Chong Tat Kong 張德康 (pinyin Zhang Dekang) (1919-2002)
by Hannah Chong 2013
Basic Biographical Data
Born on February 20, 1919 in Taiping Malaysia; died on June 8, 2002 in Cooranbong, NSW Australia.
He had one sister, Phyllis Chong, who predeceased him.
Spouse, Cecilia Nyuk Sim Choong deceased June 6 2012.
Children: Five daughters from eldest to youngest are Ruth Lo, Maureen Ong, Esther Chang, Cecilia Tatarchuk and Hannah Chong.
Summary of contributions: Pastor of the Penang English Church, Ipoh English Church, and Balestier Road Church in Singapore. From 1969 to his retirement in 1983 he was President of the West Malaysia & Singapore Mission.
Pastor Francis Chong Tat Kong 張德康 (Pinyin Zhang Dekang), or T.K. Chong, as he was usually known, was born in Taiping, Malaysia, on 21 February 1919. As a young boy growing up in Taiping, he attended Catholic schools and served as an altar boy at the local parish. His life was care free until his mother who was a nurse was infected with Diphtheria and died while he was at a young age. He was taken care of by his uncles and aunties and grew up among his many cousins. Most of his childhood and schooling were spent in Perak and Ipoh in Malaysia.
At the completion of high school, he taught at Kampar, Malaysia for a couple of years. In August 1943, he married his cousin and confidante Cecilia Nyuk Sim Choong 張玉心. They have five daughters. From the eldest to the youngest, they are: Ruth, Maureen, Esther, Cecilia, and Hannah.
In 1948, he moved his young family (the two eldest daughters, Ruth and Maureen had joined the family) to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he worked at in the government’s Department of Public Relations. His work was to dispatch by road and rail thousands of government papers to towns and villages.
One evening, as he was reading the local newspaper, his eyes fell on an advertisement which aroused his curiosity. This advertisement offered a free Bible correspondence course with no strings attached. The word ‘free’ attracted him as he loved any free give aways! When the Voice of Prophesy lessons arrived he immediately began to study them. He was impressed that every truth in the lesson was supported by the Bible. He was hungry to learn more and could not resist writing to the Voice of Prophesy to send eight or ten lesson at one time.
As the truths from God’s Word unfolded, he grasped them like a man clinging for dear life to a rock or branch on the edge of a precipice. For the first time in his life he understood the teachings of Jesus and his life changed. Family and friends noticed that he no longer smoked, drank alcoholic drinks, gambled or went clubbing. His family thought he had become a Muslim as he gave up eating unclean meats. When he learned that Saturday is the Sabbath, he was astounded! For years he had faithfully attended Sunday Masses in the Catholic Church. With the encouragement and support of the staff at the Voice of Prophesy Office, Pastor H. W. Peterson and Pastor J. L. Pogue, he asked his supervisor for Sabbaths off and volunteered to work on Sunday instead. To his surprise, his request was granted as he had expected a violent reaction and refusal. His colleagues were flabbergasted too. After his baptism, he had a strong desire to be a worker for God and made this known to Pastor Nearness, President of Southeast Asia Union. In June 1949, he was offered a shipping clerk’s position at the Union office in Singapore. He accepted the offer though the remuneration was poor as he had made up his mind that regardless of the circumstance, he would be a worker for God.
After moving to Singapore, Cecilia took Bible studies from Mrs. Amy Tan. She had seen the change in her husband and was baptized when a city wide Evangelistic meeting was held by Pastor Detamore.
Figure 1: Francis Chong Tat Kong as a youth in 1937
Figure 2: Cecilia Choong Nyuk Sim before her marriage to T.K. Chong
Figure 3: Pastor and Mrs T. K. Chong in 1957.
Five years on, one day, Pastor Nearness suggested that he attend the Adventist College in Singapore to train to become a minister. During the second year of his college years, T.K. Chong worked as an intern in the Singapore Church. Following graduation, he served as the pastor of the Penang English Church for six years (1955-1960), and Ipoh English Church for one year (1961). During his tenure at the Penang Church, 108 new members were baptized, among them 100 were Voice of Prophesy students.
In 1962, he was called to pastor the Balestier Road Church in Singapore, a position which he remained until 1967. In 1967, he was appointed the President of the Malaysia – Singapore Mission with head office in Kuala Lumpur. He served in that office for fourteen years till his retirement in 1981.
Pastor Chong had always supported Christian education and as worker and leader, he had been responsible for influencing many young people to obtain further training and to ultimately enter the organized work of the church. He had given outstanding service as the pastor of churches under his care. As a church administrator, he regularly engaged in public evangelism while meeting the administrative demands of his office. His leadership resulted in a great strengthening of the work in Southeast Asia missions, both in membership and the preparation of new workers. He labored for the denomination for 32 years.
In 1981, he retired and moved to Australia where four of his daughters were. He and his wife resided in a house in Cooranbong built by their youngest daughter, Hannah Chong. Their home was close to Avondale College, where the family of their eldest daughter, Ruth Lo, lived. Even in retirement, Pastor Chong continued to preach in churches and to teach in Sabbath School classes for many years. He and his wife were also active in community service by participating in Meals on Wheels, and volunteer for welfare works. He left this earthly world on June 8, 2002.
Throughout his life he gave glory to God for His goodness and mercy in leading and guiding his family to His truth and for the Voice of Prophecy and its soul winning program. He was passionate about evangelism, telling others what God had done for him and what He could do for them. He would often say ‘Come Lord Jesus’… so he sleeps till he hears his Saviour’s voice on the resurrection morning.
He was survived by:
his wife, Mrs. Cecilia Nyuk Sim Choong;
daughter Dr. Ruth Lo of Wisconsin, USA, university nursing professor and piano teacher;
daughter Maureen Ong of Taiping, Malaysia, nurse and hospital manager;
daughter Esther Change of Sydney, Australia, university nursing professor;
daughter Cecilia Tatarchuk of Cooranbong, Australia, nurse;
daughter Hannah Chong of Loma Linda, USA, nursing administrator; and
Mrs. Cecilia Nyuk Sim Chong continue to live in Cooranbong for another ten years. She rested on June 6, 2012 to await the return of the Lord.
Figure 4: Pastor and Mrs. Chong and their five daughters in 1963. Standing at back from left to right: Ruth, Maureen, Pastor Chong, Mrs. Chong, Esther; Front row left to right are Hannah, and Cecilia.
Figure 5: Graduation from Phillippine Union College in 1958
Figure 6: Pastor Chong with sister Phyllis Yap c.a. 1976
Figure 7: Pastor & Mrs. Chong at the Mission Office in Kuala Lumpur in 1980.
Figure 8: Pastor & Mrs. Chong at their retirement home in Cooranbong, Australia, near Avondale College taken 1983.
Figure 8: Pastor & Mrs. Chong in 1997 in Australia.
Figure 9: Pastor & Mrs. Chong and their seven grandchildren in Australia, Christmas 1994.
1. Chong, T.K. (1968) How I became A Seventh-day Adventist, Voice of Prophecy Reflections, Issue Number 22, May-June 1968.
2. Chong, Hannah (2002), Life Sketch of Pastor Tat Kong Chong, private communication.
Last updated 6/18/2013 by Bruce Lo