The Story of FACE
A Life of Ministry
Fruit from Good OBC-ABC Relationships
How I became a Christian
How Pastor Joe and Shirley came to be


IMG_0798I recently interviewed Joseph Wong, who along with Peter Yuen, Wayland Wong and Hoover Wong are the founders of FACE or Fellowship for American Christian Evangelicals. David Woo and William Eng joined FACE later. This group of mostly California-based pastors championed separate English-speaking ministries within Chinese churches contexts for the American Born Chinese (ABC) especially in the 1980s and early 1990s through seminars, conferences and especially through their newsletter, “About Face” which was printed from 1979 to 2003. In 2009, they collected their insights in a book entitled, Completing the Face of the Chinese Church in America: the ABC Handbook: Promoting Effective Ministries to American-Born Chinese.   

In the 1950s to 1980s, it was very difficult for an American Born Chinese (ABC) to get a pastoral position at any church, let alone a Chinese church. ABCs who wanted to be pastors were expected by Chinese churches at the time to learn Chinese and to submit to their Overseas Born Chinese (OBC) seniors.  

FACE overlaps with this era, and many Asian American ministers today like Steve WongDonna Dong and Louis Lee point to their work and mentoring that paved the way.  

Pastor Joe is a jovial man.“I don’t like to take anything too seriously.” Yet, he does take his faith in God very seriously. We were joined intermittently by his wife Shirley who often chimed in.  

Shirley in her own right, had a sense of call to ministry “because I felt called to marry him.” While her four daughters were young, she supplemented their early income as a junior high school teacher in East Oakland and later as an early childhood education specialist on a team that helped develop the acclaimed Head Start Program. Shirley enjoyed hosting people, mentoring women and putting on women’s conferences in conjunction with Pastor Joe’s ministry.

Both Pastor Joe and Shirley charm me as a couple. God has indeed been good to them. Now retired in the San Francisco Bay Area, they live near their daughters and extended family.

I also spoke to Pastor Wayland Wong by phone. Many of the details he offered helped me understand the context here, and those insights were incorporated into many of the questions, especially about FACE. To Pastor Wayland Wong, my special thanks.



Comments are closed.