Lawrence Tong is a man on a mission. Last March, the 1989 Biola graduate became the new international director of Operation Mobilisation, a leading missions organization that works to advance the gospel in more than 110 countries around the world. With more than 6,100 workers in its family of ministries, OM works to share the good news of Jesus through a variety of means — including ships that sail the oceans, offering resources and evangelism at port cities wherever they go.
Tong had already served with OM for seven years before attending Biola in the ’80s. After he graduated from Biola with a degree in communications, he went back to work for OM for a year before returning to his home country of Singapore, where he started several successful businesses over a 10-year period. All the while, he maintained a relationship with OM, and in 2009 Tong gave up all his businesses in order to return with his family to full-time ministry with OM. He recently shared his story with Biola Magazine.
I am passionate about raising a new wave of missionaries from the emerging nations to serve as equal partners alongside their colleagues from traditional sending countries. Above all, I want to see people and nations transformed to live for our Lord Jesus Christ.
I first got involved with Operation Mobilisation in the ’70s, and their radical lifestyle of forsaking all and living for Christ resonated well with me. I was attracted to these people who were totally sold out for the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I first was involved with OM, I would work with the OM ships. I worked on an advance team, which was a group of men and women who would go ahead of the ship to prepare its visit and program in a country. I was also involved in fundraising in Asia, served on the OM Singapore board and was interim field leader for OM Taiwan. I also later served as the director on Board the ship LOGOS II.
I loved serving in China, with my colleagues and with the local church. Their zeal for evangelism,
their willingness to suffer for the kingdom, and their passionate desire for the Word of God taught me so much.
While I served in China, I helped start a welfare center, an organic farm and a training center. These helped integrate local believers into a holistic ministry that trained them to be self-sufficient and to provide for those they serve.
I so appreciate the many friendships that developed during my time at Biola which remain till this day. Perhaps the most memorable experiences I had were trips with the forensic teams to compete at various colleges around the country. It was good exposure to other schools in America, and my team members were great. We had a lot of fun traveling together.
My wife, Susan, and I met through Operation Mobilisation. She joined at about the same time I did but she mainly served in India and the subcontinent, while I was with the ships in South America. We met eight years later at an OM conference and started corresponding, which led to our getting together.
Family is important to me. We now live in three different continents, so we try to get together at least once a year and build memories. Our oldest son is studying creative writing and movie making at NYU; our youngest son is finishing his national service in Singapore. We are presently based in England.
Some of the most exciting work OM is currently doing is in India among the Dalits (untouchables). That work is seeing thousands of them coming to faith in Christ. The Good Shepherd Community Church movement has more than 3,000 churches in their care.
Another exciting ministry is the ship Logos Hope, which God continues to use as a catalyst for world mission. At any given time, multiple ministries take place simultaneously on the ship: people come to faith in God, lives are transformed, leaders are trained, and good, wholesome literature is distributed to visitors.