Hungry, Thirsty, and Fired Up! Hosanna Wong to Speak at Convention 2021
By Carl Stagner
The inner-city streets of San Francisco might not be everyone’s ideal childhood stomping grounds, but it was where God had called Hosanna Wong’s family to serve. Hosanna grew up in the midst of “the least of these,” many of whom claimed no home address, fought vicious addictions, and desperately needed the hope of Jesus. Introduced to the art of spoken-word poetry at an early age, she discovered the joy of processing her emotions, sharing her story, and simply having fun with her friends competing in what she describes as the “underground slam poetry scene.” Little did she know then that God would use her skills to propel her to a platform from which she would proclaim the Good News of Jesus far and wide. Hosanna Wong’s hunger and thirst for Jesus, her love for the lost, and her devotion to the church makes hers a highly anticipated session of Convention 2021 & General Assembly.
Though she’s only in her early thirties today, Hosanna Wong has amassed quite a following of believers also hungry and thirsty for the message of Christ that she brings week after week as teaching pastor at EastLake Church in San Diego, through her appearances on TBN’s Better Together daily television program, and by way of Calvary Street Ministries—an outreach bringing hope to the homeless and low-income families in San Francisco, which Hosanna serves as executive director. “She understands the challenges of finding yourself in a world in which you are the minority, the ‘other,’ and the overlooked, or, worse yet, the object of dismissive scorn,” Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries, observes. “But she has been empowered by a Jesus that gave her confidence in being just who God created her to be, a preacher of the gospel, transcending all colors, class, and cultures.”
Indeed, Hosanna Wong is secure in Jesus. He is enough for her. And, the power of his resurrection fuels her drive to keep pushing back against the forces of darkness. Her testimony of her journey into ministry speaks for itself.
“As I fell more in love with Jesus,” Hosanna recounts, “my spoken-word poems naturally became about him and, ten years ago this summer, I packed my life into suitcases and started traveling the country sharing the gospel through spoken-word poetry full-time. (I love how God will use what we love and what we enjoy to point people to him, if we let him!) It was no small step of faith. I lived in guest rooms, hotel rooms, and cots in living rooms for years, performing these pieces in prisons, recovery programs, conferences, and churches. Eventually I started preaching and sharing the gospel through sermons, as well as spoken-word poetry. But before I ever preached a full sermon, I first learned how to talk about Jesus through spoken-word. Spoken-word poetry taught me the power of authenticity. I learned that people don’t want to be impressed. People want to be known. People want to be seen. People want to know they are not alone. Years later, as I now preach sermons, and lead team, I never want to forget that.”
Over the years, she’s faced her fair share of opposition. She knows the fight against the enemy of our souls is not an easy one. “I’m aware of the gates of hell we are up against,” she reflects. “But I know that Jesus will build his church and, as we love and fight for our world together, the gates of hell will not prevail.”
She describes the calling of Christ as “hard, humbling work, the dying-to-yourself work” that involves “getting your favorite clothes drenched in fresh mud in order to be in the dirt with people who are feeling defeated on an active battlefield.” At the same time, she knows that Jesus “has real answers for our real questions” and “real healing for our real hurts.” Therefore, she cannot stress enough that, like Emmanuel—God with us—we must, too, be willing to be in the trenches of life with others, especially the hurting and the hopeless.
“We don’t want to say statements that sound super spiritual but don’t serve people where they really are,” she explains. “The key to reaching people is to not aim to be above, but to aim to be with. People know when you don’t really care about their lives. Why would they believe Jesus sees them and wants to know them, when Jesus-followers don’t even see them and want to know them? If we want to reach the lost in 2021: Have a real relationship with God. Know him for real. And have a real relationship with the person right next to you. For real. Many times our greatest witness will be our with-ness.”
When Hosanna Wong considers her assignment to speak at Convention 2021 in Denver, Colorado, she beams. The theme of the Convention, “hunger and thirst for justice, for righteousness, for Jesus,” especially captures her attention and sparks her enthusiasm.
“I am so excited for this theme!” she exclaims. “I have never in my life been more hungry and thirsty for Jesus. I have never been more desperate to know him more. And Jesus cares deeply about justice. James writes, ‘You are fastidious about tithing—keeping account of every little leaf of mint and herb—but you neglect what really matters: justice and the love of God!’ (Luke 11:42 The Voice). That verse really convicts me. There’s a lot of Christian traditions I’m really good at. God, have I ever neglected what really matters? It’s an important self-audit. I never want to place religion, tradition, or my own preferences above Jesus Christ. I am looking forward to being in a community of people this June who are hungry for Jesus, and for us together to ask him, ‘What do you want us to do? What do you want us to say? How do you want us to love? How do you want us to live? How can we partner with you on your mission? How can we be busy with what really matters?’ I know Jesus is our love and Jesus is our goal. And I could not be more fired up about that.”
Convention 2021 & General Assembly is June 26–29 in Denver, Colorado, with both in-person and virtual options. For more information, and to register, visit www.chogconvention.org.