Ang Chui Lai was born on April 25, 1928 in Taiping, Perak, to Ang Chai Tit and Sung Beng Choo, the third of 12 children consisting of five boys and seven girls.
A third-generation Christian from the Brethren assembly, Ang went on to be co-founder of a leading charismatic church in Malaysia.
His paternal grandparents were migrants from Amoy, Fukien province (now Xiamen, Fujian province) in China. His grandfather Ang Gan was befriended and brought to Christ by Harry Freeman Marks and his wife, a missionary couple from England, who served 52 years in the Taiping Gospel Hall Brethren assembly. Mr Alfred Green gave Ang Gan a Bible and taught him to read it. Ang Gan would “go from house to house to preach the Gospel so much so that he was labelled ‘Jesus man’ by some villagers”.Ang Gan’s wife, Tan Su, also accepted the Lord and both were baptised at the Chinese Gospel Hall, Taiping.
Ang Gan and Tan Su, in turn, nurtured and instilled the fear of God in Chui Lai’s father, Chai Tit, who later became a chief clerk in a government office. From their earliest years, Chui Lai and his siblings were taught the Word of God by their parents. By the time they reached their teens, each child had professed faith in Jesus Christ, and became faithful church members.
Ang Chui Lai was active in sports and represented King Edward VII School in rugby. He excelled in his studies and cherished the hope of becoming a doctor. But his father, a government servant with a large family to support, could not afford to send him to medical school. So Ang taught primary school for seven years and with some help from his father, managed to scrape together enough savings to go and read law at Lincoln’s Inn, London, in 1956.
During the journey on the SS Chusan, he shared a cabin with another young man, Sothinathan Kanagasingam, who was also planning to read law at Lincoln’s Inn. On board the ship which took more than a month to reach England, Ang would conduct Bible lessons for anyone who was interested.
In London, he and a few others from Malaya formed the Malayan Gospel Witness Team which would occasionally share their faith at churches in the city. After his graduation in 1960, he returned to Kuala Lumpur to read in chambers and practise law. In 1965, he and his former shipmate and university mate, Sothinathan, set up Messrs Sothi & Ang, Advocates & Solicitors.
In Kuala Lumpur, Ang worshipped at Jalan Imbi Chapel (JIC). Dr Benjamin George Sr remembered that Ang made an impression on the JIC leadership within a short time of joining them: “He was young and showed much promise. He earned the respect of the leadership by his love for God and His Word.” Before long, he was invited to serve as an elder.
Ang remained single until he was 40. In July 1969, he married Phey Siew Hoon. Their son Chu Leng was born in 1973, followed by another son, Chu San, in 1976.
“When we were young, my father used to make us read a passage of the Bible as many as 10 times during our family devotions. He always emphasised the importance of going to church and having fellowship with other Christians,” said Chu San. He remembers waking up in the morning to find his father poring over his Bible or with hands clasped, head tilted back and eyes shut in deep meditation.
Ang’s encounter with the charismatic movement came when the JIC elders asked him to follow up on Dr Peter Tong, a medical doctor. One day, Dr Tong shared about the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Ang and confided that he would have to leave the church as he was now aligned with the charismatic movement on account of his baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Ang decided he would keep tabs on Dr Tong to try and bring him back into the fold.
Ang attended meetings at Dr Tong’s clinic in Jalan Ampang where he witnessed many miracles and incidents of healing. He saw how the faith of Dr Tong and his wife had undergone a revival and how full of joy they were. By the second meeting, Ang had become convinced that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was of God. He shared about the meetings with his wife Siew Hoon, who was very sceptical at first and said to herself, “Let’s see how long this can last.” In 1978, both Ang and Siew Hoon themselves received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
They were subsequently told to leave Imbi Chapel. Ang found this extremely painful. The stress resulted in his losing his voice for three months.The day before he was to face his co-leaders about his theological stand, he was ready to confront and challenge them but all he could manage when asked if he believed in speaking in tongues was a barely audible “yes”.
After leaving Imbi Chapel, his brother-in-law Dr Koh Eng Kiat invited the Angs to join his church, The Life Chapel in Petaling Jaya. They also attended Calvary church for some time.
At Life Chapel, Ang’s forceful sharing of his new understanding of the Word of God was frowned upon by the leaders of the church. It soon became clear for both the opponents and proponents of the charismatic movement that a split was unavoidable.
Buoyed by their newfound liberty in the Holy Spirit, Ang and Koh, together with several others, met together to fellowship in Ang’s house on Thursday nights. The group grew quickly and after meeting for a few months, Dr Tong, who had first led Ang into the charismatic circle, told Ang and Koh that the time had come to start a new, charismatic church. The group prayed and sought God’s will. In April 1979, they decided to start their own church and called it the Full Gospel Assembly.
The first Sunday meeting took place in the Kohs’ residence on April 8, 1979 with about 40 people. From morning watches to all-night prayer meetings, God was the focus of this small group that spent hours praying and had a deep love for God and hunger for His Word.
Within five short years, the house church that had begun with about 40 people grew to 800. The number grew as they continued to walk in faith and obedience to God. Various ministries were started to reach out to pre-believers. Many non-believers, both individuals and families, were won to Christ by the joy and excitement of the members whose lives God had touched. A sizeable number of Christians joined from mainline churches.
By 1999, 20 years after its founding, the church had grown to 8,000, with more than 10 satellite churches and branches in Malaysia.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2004, FGA could look back on exponential growth that included not just satellite churches but various ministries, its own Bible college (the Royal Priesthood Bible College), its own campsite in Genting Highlands called Peacehaven, and Wisma FGA, which was dedicated on October 5, 2002. The 10-storey Wisma FGA was prompted by the need for more space for the different ministries and language services. Both Wisma FGA and Peacehaven have benefitted not just the FGA family but also other organisations, churches and Christian groups.
The co-founders continued to play an active part in the church’s phenomenal growth. Rev Colin Hurt, one of the early teachers who ministered at the church, said of Ang and Koh: “They are men of integrity and honesty. People feel they can trust them. They are also men of prayer. They pray about every issue.”
Ang was also bold and decisive. He did not like to waste time deliberating over matters. Though dignified at church meetings, he was a fun-loving extrovert on a personal level and enjoyed teasing people and giving them nicknames. He used this for good purposes — to break the ice and help him remember names.
He retired from legal practice at the age of 70 and devoted his time to serving fully in FGA. Over 10,000 people were at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur, to celebrate FGA’s 36th anniversary on April 12, 2015. The night before the celebration, 5,000 people came forward for salvation and to re-dedicate their lives to the Lord at a special evangelistic event which saw more than 13,000 attendees. At a prayer meeting in 2012, Ang had been given a prophecy that he would live to see multitudes coming to faith.
In the early 1970s to 1980s, Ang was also a member of The Gideons International, an association of Christian businessmen and professionals dedicated to witnessing through personal testimony and by providing free Bibles and copies of the New Testament.
As a practising lawyer in Kuala Lumpur, he was very much involved in marketplace ministry. In 1978, he, Dr Tong and other committed Christian leaders started a weekly lunchtime fellowship and ministry for office workers, professionals and businessmen at the Abundant Life Centre (ALC) in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur.
Two years later, he became a founding member of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship Malaysia (FGBMFM) together with banker Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, Dr. Joy Seevaratnam, chartered accountant Timothy Phua, bank executive Michael Cheng and Dr. Tong, who became the first national president. It was one of the earliest marketplace ministries in Malaysia.
After living a life of faithful service and ministry to his Lord and Saviour, Ang Chui Lai passed away at the age of 88 on October 14, 2016. The memorial service on October 16, 2016 saw FGA’s main sanctuary and rooms overflow with people who turned up to pay tribute and bid farewell to a much-loved elder who left a legacy not just in the FGA family but the church in Malaysia.
- ^ Benjamin Ong Pang Kean, “Because He Lives, Because He Loves – Elder Ang Chui Lai”. Christianity Malaysia, October 26, 2016. https://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/because-he-lives-because-he-loves-elder-ang-chui-lai/.
- ^ Ong, “Mrs Ang: Reminiscing the early days” in “Because He Lives”.
- ^ Ong, “Mrs Ang: Reminiscing the early days” in “Because He Lives”.
- ^ Ong, “Because He Lives”.
- ^ Ong, “Because He Lives”.
Commemorating 25 Years of God's Grace and Faithfulness, 1979-2004. Kuala Lumpur: Full Gospel Assembly, 2004.
Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International Malaysia website. https://www.fgb.com.my/. Accessed March 3, 2021.
Ong, Benjamin P.K. “Because He Lives, Because He Loves – Elder Ang Chui Lai”. Christianity Malaysia, October 26, 2016. https://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/because-he-lives-because-he-loves-e…
The Kuala Lumpur Bar website. https://klbar.org.my/memoriam/sothinathan-kanagasingam/#search. Accessed March 3, 2021.
Tribute to Chairman Elder Ang Chui Lai, 1928-2016. Kuala Lumpur: Full Gospel Assembly, 2016. Tribute booklet.
“Our Founding Fathers”. Rejoice Magazine Vol. 1, 8-15. Kuala Lumpur: Full Gospel Assembly, 2002.