As a new convert and student at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong gained much more than an education — he gained a sure knowledge that there is a God who knows the “details of the details of our lives.”
Now, as a new General Authority, Elder Wong will share that message with Church members across the globe. He was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 5 during the Church’s 184th Annual General Conference.
Born May 25, 1962, in Hong Kong, China, to Ngan Kan and Fat Wong, he was one of seven children growing up in a small apartment. With his four brothers and two sisters, he made toys and played with neighbors in the rural outskirts of the city. Education was important to the Wong family and Sam attended a Protestant primary school and a Catholic secondary school.
After graduation, he met Carol Lu at work. The daughter of pioneer members in Hong Kong, she invited him to a Church activity and then a Sunday meeting. Soon, he began receiving the missionary discussions.
“I was a bit scared,” recalled Elder Wong. “Once I started to know more about the members and the missionaries, it was good.”
The young investigator was baptized Feb. 14, 1982.
A year later, on July 9, 1983, he and Carol were married.
Sister Wong, a graduate of BYU-Hawaii, also knew that education would benefit her husband, so the young couple moved to Laie, Hawaii. “We knew we needed to further his education,” she said.
But the couple had no idea how hard it would be.
Because he was in Hawaii on a student visa and a change of government regulations occurred, Elder Wong could work only 20 hours a week instead of 30 hours a week after the first semester. Sister Wong, who had already graduated, was granted a visa to accompany her husband, but could not work.
“We had to really exercise our faith and prayers,” Elder Wong said of what it took to sustain his family.
He prayed and worked hard to earn a scholarship to cover his tuition and then, to maximize the financial benefit, took as many credit hours as the university would allow. He also felt driven to earn “A” grades, so that he could qualify to receive another scholarship.
“It wasn’t easy,” he recalled. “Heavenly Father helped us and blessed us with the ability to go through those years.”
The Wongs were sealed in the Laie Hawaii Temple on Aug. 9, 1984. The first of their four children arrived while he was studying at BYU-Hawaii. “Those years were very special, very sacred,” he said. “Because of the challenges over there and the faith we had to exercise to overcome those challenges, that was and still is a sacred ground for me.”
After studying three years and four months, Elder Wong received a bachelor of science degree in accounting and an associate of science degree in computer science. The family returned to Hong Kong. Elder Wong said he thought about continuing his education in Laie, but felt the Lord was sending him a specific message: “Your mission in Hawaii has been completed. Now you need to go back to Hong Kong and serve.”
Returning to Hong Kong — where land and jobs are in great demand — was a great blessing. The Wongs lived with Elder Wong’s parents for a few months while they got settled, and then experienced the joy of raising their family in their homeland.
Elder Wong was the founder and partner of a business and quality consulting company and also worked at a materials testing and inspection group where he began as the senior accountant and left the company as the deputy managing director. He also received an MBA from the Hong Kong Open University.
He has served in the Church as a bishop, stake president and Area Seventy. Through the years, Elder and Sister Wong had the opportunity to watch the Church grow and prosper in Hong Kong.
In the 1960s, the great majority of members in Hong Kong were young single adults. Many members faced opposition from their families.
Today, however, things are different, said Sister Wong. The faithful members who joined the Church in their youth 50 years ago are now parents and grandparents, whose families have been strengthened by the gospel, said Sister Wong. Now there are many second- and third-generation Latter-day Saint families in Hong Kong.
One great blessing for the Church in the country was the dedication of the Hong Kong China Temple on May 26, 1996, by President Gordon B. Hinckley. During the dedicatory prayer, President Hinckley said with the temple the “Church in this area now comes to full maturity.”
Elder Wong said the temple serves Latter-day Saints who speak a variety of languages and live across a huge geographic area. “Members sacrifice so much to come to the temple,” said Sister Wong.
Elder Wong said the members in Asia who travel to the Hong Kong temple are blessed for their sacrifice — much in the same way his family was blessed years ago as they struggled to get an education in Laie, Hawaii.
“I still love Laie,” he said, noting that he has thought of those years every time new challenges arose in his life. “Once we had that experience, we knew we could always rely on the power of Heaven.”
Family: Born May 25, 1962, in Hong Kong, China, to Ngan Kan and Fat Wong; Married Carol Lu on July 9, 1983, and sealed Aug, 9, 1984, in the Laie Hawaii Temple; four children: Wilford, Wesley (Sheree Chan), Webster, and Joy; one granddaughter: Noelle.
Education: Received a bachelor of science degree in accounting and an associate of science degree in computer science from BYU-Hawaii; received a MBA from the Hong Kong Open University.
Employment: Founder and partner of a business and quality consulting company and also worked at a materials testing and inspection group where he began as the senior accountant and left the company as the deputy managing director.
Church service: Former ward financial clerk, ward clerk, Sunday School president, Young Men president, bishop’s counselor, bishop, stake president’s counselor, stake president and Area Seventy.