Keh Nga Pit (pinyin Guo Ziying) 郭子颖 (1865-1937)
by Bruce W. Lo 2013
Basic Biographic Information
Born on September 28, 1865 at Chiupo, Fukien province, died on August 14, 1937 at Amoy, Fukien, China.
Keh Nga Pit (pinyin Guo Ziying) 郭子颖 is usually acknowledged as the first ordained indigenous Chinese minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in China.
He came from a Chinese non-Adventist Christian family living in the vicinity of Amoy (pinyin Xiamen 厦門), Fujian province. He was educated in the English Presbyterian School in that city, reportedly to a collegiate level and he became the principal of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary there.
In 1904, a young man Timothy Tay 鄭提摩太came to study at the Amoy school where Keh was. Tay was from Singapore, and was baptised by Elder R.W. Munson into the Adventist faith when he was 20 years old. Tay's father sent him to Amoy so that he could study Chinese and learn to speak his home town dialect. Tay was a model student at the school excelling academically. One Sunday, Tay went to the market and bought some fruits and vegetables. On return he was called to the Principal's office, where Keh Nga Pit asked him why did he buy foods on the Sabbath. Tay replied, "Your student did not buy on a Sabbath. Today is the first day of the week." It was there that Tay gave Keh the first Bible study about the true Sabbath. Keh Nga Pit could not believe himself, when he found out what the Bible said. He was finally convinced that Saturday is the true Sabbath.
Once he accepted his new faith, Keh Nga Pit decided to resign his principal position. His friend and colleagues tried to persuade him not to, but with not avail. His wife and daughter pleaded with him in tears as they thought that will bring shame to the family. But Keh's mind was made up. After resigning the principalship, he bought a small church nearby and shared his newfound faiths with his community.
Timothy Tay told Keh that there was a group of Sabbath keepers in Canton, led by an American missionary named J.N. Anderson. Keh Nga Pit decided to travel to Canton to meet up with J.N. Anderson, and asked whether the church can send an evangelist to assist him in Amoy. The request was passed to the General Conference, which appointed the young couple, Winford C. and Bessie Hankins as new missionaries to China. The couple arrived at Amoy on May 30, 1905.
Key Nga Pit continued to work with Timothy Tay to hold many evangelistic meetings in nearby villages, which created a great deal of interests among the people in that region. Later on, Keh and Tay traveled to Shwatow (pinyin Shantou 汕頭), another seaport in South China to preach to the Christians there. It was there that they met Ang Tou Kiet, a local Chinese Christina leader, who also tried to disprove the Seventh-day Adventist message only to accept it himself and entered the work2. The was the beginning of the work in the Shantou area. It is interesting to note that both in Xiamen and in Shantou, the Adventist message was initiated by native Chinese believers and not expatriate missionaries.
In the Spring of 1906, Keh Nga Pit was ordained into the Seventh-day Adventist ministry by J.N. Anderson in Amoy3. In 1907, Keh Nga Pit went to Chaozhou 潮州, a city about 25 miles from Shantou, and found a company of 25 people who, based on their own study of the Bible, had decided to keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Also on their own accord, they abstained from tobacco and alcohol use. A Seventh-day Adventist Church was formed there, which still exists till today.
In 1913, Keh Nga Pit took the gospel message to Fuzhou. It was there that he started a school, which later became the Fuzhou Sam Yuk School. Keh was the first principal of the school in 1913. In 1914, he passed the principalship to C.C. Morris, who was also the President of North Fujian Mission.
Keh Nga Pit continued to write a number of pamphlets and exposition of prophecies in Chinese and devoted much of his time in preaching the gospel among his own people and among the different ethnic groups in Fujian Province. His name continued to appear in the SDA Yearbook until 1928.
His son married Ang Tou Kiet's daughter, Mary. They immigrated to San Francisco and was one of the founders of the Chinese SDA Church in that city.
Portrait of Keh Nga Pit
Pastor and Mrs. Keh Nga Pit
1. Anderson, J.N. (1906) Ordination of The First Chinese Minister, Review and Herald, Vol. 83, No. 16, August 23, 1906.
2. Munson, George (2007), More Than Conquerors , TEACH Service, Inc: USA.
3. Van Dolson, B,J, and Van Dolson, L.R. (1976) Entry on Keh Nga Pit, Seventh-day Adventist Encylopedia, Commentary Reference Series, Volume 10, pp. 771-772, Hagerestown, MD: Review and Herald.
4. Young, Samuel (2002) Editor, Chinese SDA History, China Union Mission: Hong Kong, China.
5. Anderson, B.L., (1931) "Obituary of N.P. Keh", The China Division Reporter, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 8, March 1, 1931.
Last updated 12/30/2019 by B. Lo