John Sung Biography
“Henceforth”, he writes on his diary in 1934, “I will try every means to save souls, never mind if is timely or otherwise. Saving a single sheep is more important than all other work. May God confer unto me the same spirit He gave to Charles Finney, D. L. Moody and John Wesley. I would rather die if God does not do that”.
John Sung’s Early Life
Born in Hong Chek Village, Fujian province in China on 27th of September 1901, he was given the name “Zhu En”, meaning “God’s grace”. He later on adopted another name, “Shanjie”, meaning “noble and frugal”, which perfectly depicted his personality. During his youth he was also called “the little pastor” because he accompanied and helped his father in his ministry.
He was expected to follow his father’s steps, yet he travelled in 1920 to the United States of America to study chemistry in Ohio Wesleyan University. He finished his PhD there in just six years while he carried out all kinds of humble jobs to pay for his studies. He washed dishes, mowed lawns and scrubbed floors. This was during a time in which he did not have a personal relationship with Jesus.
John Sung’s Conversion at Theological Seminary
After being offered an array of privileged positions that would have earned him money and a social position, he moved on to enter Union Theological Seminary in New York instead. During this time he explored many paths promoted by his theologically liberal teachers, reciting Hindu mantras and translating the Dao De Jing into English. But Jung was not happy going down this path. “My Soul”, he wrote, “wandered in a wilderness. I could neither sleep nor eat. My faith was like a leaking, storm-driven ship without captain or compass. My heart was filled with the deepest unhappiness”. But his life was changed by the Holy Spirit in 1927, when his conversion into the true message of God was effected.
Sung Sectioned to a Mental Asylum
His change was not well-received by his professors, and they locked him up in a mental asylum! During his stay at the mental institution, he read the Bible forty times in only seven months. He later declared that this was his authentic and only theological tuition.
A Missionary to China
After being released in 1927, he returned to China, eager to bring souls closer to God. His parents had arranged his marriage to a young girl, and although it was not his vocation, he had three children with her and frequently wrote to his wife, worrying about her and their children’s welfare.
God sent John Sung all around China and Southeast Asia to preach the gospel. He converted thousands. With his honest and harsh word of truth, he gained countless souls for God, for, as he said, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but lose his soul?”
Dependence on God through Prayer
The secret of his strength was a deep knowledge of the Bible and steady prayer, getting up early every morning to pray for two or three hours. He frequently states, in his diary: “I wake up at the break of dawn to pray in vigilance and fervour”. His prayer was a very direct and intimate connection with Jesus, as if he was a good friend staying with him as he prayed.
A thorn in the flesh
He also had his own thorn in the flesh. He suffered greatly from intestinal tuberculosis and fistulas. “My body stinks and is in decay”, he recollects in his diaries. “But my lips are still good and I can still pray to God.” When he was too ill to write himself, Sister Wang Minxue penned down Sung’s experiences and reflections since his early childhood, as dictated by him, in a diary titled My Testimony. Between 1931 and 1938 another diary about his ministries was written by Sister Zheng Ruilang titled A Continuation of My Testimony – Recollections of My Work. She preserved these manuscripts, risking her own life, and stored them in the deep jungle due to the political turmoil China was going through at this time.
John Sung’s Final Message
Sung’s last message for the Church, when he already was very ill, was the following: “The work of the future is to be the work of prayer”. He died from his illness in 1944, being his last words “There’s a land that is fairer than day”, “In the Cross, in the Cross be my glory ever”, and “Jesus is all the world to me”. Before passing away, on August 18th, he said to his worried wife: “Don’t be afraid! The Lord Jesus is at the door. What is there to fear?”