OBITUARY: REV DR GEORGE WAN TIAN SOO (Nov 10, 1936 – March 22, 2010)
THE REV DR GEORGE WAN, who retired in 1998 after 33 years of service in the Methodist Church, passed away at the age of 73 on March 22, 2010, leaving his wife, Bee Bee, his son Joshua, his daughters Rebecca and Ruth, and their families to mourn their loss.
At his funeral service at Wesley Methodist Church on March 26, six pastors were the pallbearers – the Rev Lim Jen Huat, the Rev Alvin Chan, the Rev Peter Koh, the Rev Chiang Ming Shun, the Rev Tay Kay Leong and the Rev Lai Kai Ming.
Trained at Trinity Theological College, the Rev Dr Wan was pastor of several Methodist Churches, including Christ, Paya Lebar, Kampong Kapor, Trinity, Faith, Tampines and Wesley. However, his passion throughout his service life was in evangelism with which he was directly associated and was appointed TRAC Director of Evangelism in 1984.
After he retired, he became a freelance preacher and was active as an evangelistic speaker and missionary in several countries in South and South East Asia and Africa. He observed that Singapore is privileged because churches are able to choose from many speakers, while many countries elsewhere are too poor to invite external speakers, hence his new mission. He was also active in the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore and its Project Livelihood among earthquake victims in Nias, Sumatra.
Less well-known but significant in his life was that he came from a poor family in Malaysia, his father having passed away when he was a young boy leaving behind his devout mother, sister and elder brother who were Chinese educated. Although he had no prior Methodist affiliation, he came to Singapore and, despite having to wait patiently for hours for the “busy” ACS Principal, Dr Herbert Peterson, he was convincing enough to be given a place in the school – the chance which was to change his life.
Similarly, his conversion to Christianity came about through his exposure to the 2nd Company of The Boys’ Brigade which he joined at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church. The Bible Classes, the Sunday School and the Methodist Youth Fellowship played their part in his eventual decision to accept Christ at a Crusade for young people organised by Youth For Christ (YFC).
Although he was a good student and was selected for a place in the science stream, he preferred to enter the Teachers’ Training College to become a teacher in order to support his family, a filial responsibility he took seriously. After several years, he felt the call to Christian ministry and entered Trinity Theological College that was to define his ministry in the Lord’s vineyard.