Sung grew up with a strong Christian upbringing. His father, who had been trained by missionaries and served as the pastor of a local Church, took it upon himself to ensure that his son was taught the word of God from an early age. Sung also helped his father in church duties. On certain evenings when his father was either too busy or was too ill, Sung would have to deliver the sermons for his father. Because of his early contributions to the church work, many church members began to refer to him as “Little Pastor”.
At the age of 19, Sung was sent to the United States, where he studied at the Ohio Wesleyan University and Ohio State University. A brilliant student, he earned a doctorate in chemistry in five years. Despite the vast field of work available to this talented young man, he decided to continue his theological studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York. It was while he was here that he realized that he had never truly been born again and was simply living the empty life of a hypocrite. He accepted Christ as his personal saviour. He wrote, “At first it seemed that there was no way to get rid of my sin and that I must go to Hell… I turned to the story of the cross in Gospel of Luke 23, and as I read, the story came alive. So vivid was the sight of the Saviour dying for my sins that I fell at the foot of the Cross and pleading to be washed from all my sins in the precious Blood”
After this experience, John Sung now felt that he possessed more strength and fervently preached the Gospel to people he met. John became a radically changed man and began to preach to his peers and lecturers in the seminary. It was such a drastic change in the man that his fellow liberal theology students reckoned that he had gone out of his right mind, and the seminary authorities confined him in an insane asylum, where he stayed for 193 days. Despite this period of isolation, John Sung set himself to read the Bible. It was during this stay that he read through the entire Bible 40 times and soon became very familiar and well versed in its teachings.
Upon returning to China, Sung proved to be an exciting, powerful evangelist. Traveling throughout China, he preached Christ, his crucifixion, and his saving blood. He would often use props during his messages, including coffins. His work helped revive many Chinese churches that had suffered when many of the missionaries were forced to leave. His battle cry for the ministry was “watching God work while on your knees“.
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