Lifetime Legacy Award (2014)
"Life is a one-time only event. We have to get it right the first time." Joyce Wong, 1997 Baccalaureate Address
A prayer request often found in letters written by the McCormicks in the 1950s was for “well qualified Christian teachers [who are] Spiritfilled and God-called, and so may fulfill Christ’s command to teach them all things whatsoever I have commanded.”
As Hawaii Baptist Academy began its second decade in 1960, God wonderfully blessed the prayer of our founders when He called Joyce (Baker) Wong to be a part of His plans for the young school.
Joyce Baker was born September 26, 1938 in Wheatley, Kentucky. While a sophomore in college, she felt called to mission service in Asia. After graduating from Carson-Newman College, Joyce was led to HBA by a college mentor, Ailene Johnson. In 1960, Joyce came to HBA as a social studies and physical education teacher. She also joined Nuuanu Baptist Church, teaching Sunday School and missions. It was here that she met and married Arthur Wong, who encouraged her in her work at HBA. Mr. Wong passed away in 1996.
During her 36 years at HBA as a teacher, student council advisor, bowling coach and advisor of the Salt and Water Club, Mrs. Wong taught her students how to love and minister like Jesus. In 1975, her sociology class sponsored a Vietnamese family of four and helped them transition to life and work in Hawaii. In the late 1980s, Mrs. Wong was asked to teach in the Bible Department. “Jesus taught through His Love, His Example, and through His Words,” she would say. “I believe as a teacher I must follow in His path, show love, live an exemplary life and teach truth.” She sought to teach how God’s Word applies to everyday life. Students learned that “God can call them, God loves them, and God will forgive and guide them.” Her goal each semester was to “let every student feel loved, affirmed and know that he/she is someone whom God wants to mold into something far more than they could ever become on their own.”
Hundreds of HBA alumni today testify to the lasting impact Joyce Wong made in their lives and in their families through her genuine love and caring for them. Her exemplary Christian life has continued to inspire many, who in turn, are touching the lives of others with the hope in Jesus.
HBA is known as a special place where students are loved and God is honored because of dedicated Christian teachers like Joyce Wong. Mrs. Wong retired in 1997 and lives in Etowah, Tennessee. Her heart continues to be with HBA and she stays in touch with many former students and faculty.