Tan Keng Boon (Pinyin Chen Jingwen) 陳經文 (1911 - 1988)

by Linda Ho & James Tan, 2013

Basic Biographical Data

Born on October 16, 1911 in Hui’an, Fujian Province, China. Died on October 17, 1988 in Redlands, California, USA.

Siblings: 2 half brothers and 1 half sister.

Marriage: Tan Keng Boon married Lee Bee Choo on April 20, 1935.

Children: From eldest to youngest are: Alice Yang, Elsie Tan, Samuel Tan, Linda Hor, Karen Tan, Carol Tan, James Tan and Esther Kan.

Education: Attended Meihua Sanyu School at Gulangyu, Fujian; Graduated from China Training Institute in Chiao Tou-Tseng in Jiangsu Province, China

Summary of Service: Pastor Tan Keng Boon entered denominational work as a teacher at Meihua Sanyu School, but served most of his time in Malaysia as pastors of Chinese Churches and principal of an Adventist Chinese School at Kuala Lumpur.

Figure 1: Portrait of Pastor Tan Keng Boon taken in the year ???.

Early Years

Tan Keng Boon 陳經文 (pinyin Chen Jingwen) was born into a non- Adventist family in Hui’an 惠安, Fujian Province, southeastern part of China. At the young age of 12 his father sent him to the Adventist boarding academy, Bee Wah School (Meihua Sanyu School 美華三育学校) located on the island of Gulangyu, just off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian Province. This was the result of his father’s close friendship with Mr. See Yau Ting (施耀亭) who was a Seventh-day Adventist and See recommended the school. Bee Wah School was founded in 1905 by B. L. Anderson, an early pioneer Adventist missionary from Wiscosin, USA.

At age 14, Keng Boon gave his heart to the Lord and was baptized. After he graduated high school, he stayed at Meihua School and taught Mathematics for 3 years. Then he attended China Training Institute in Chiao Tou-Tseng, Jiangsu Province. This was the only Adventist institution of higher learning in China at that time. After returning to his alma mater in 1935, he married Lee Bee Choo (Chinese name?) on April 20, 1935. (Lee Bee Choo is the sister of another prominent national Chinese worker, Pastor Lee Ming Dao) Tan Keng Boon then continued teaching at Bee Wah School till 1939 when he left to go to Malaysia as a missionary.

Ministry to Chinese in Southeast Asia

In the then Federation of Malaya, he taught at Tek Sin School, one of our Adventist schools located in Kuala Lumpur. Together with Pastor Chu Sin Fatt, they led this school to distinction, offering both Chinese and English primary school education to the community.

After World War II, in 1948 he was called to be pastor of the Chinese speaking church in Penang where he served for nearly 10 years till 1957. In 1955, he was officially ordained to the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

From 1957 to 1963, he pastored the Ipoh Church and then returned to Penang (Do you know when? was it 1963?) where he remained as pastor of the Chinese Church till his retirement in 1974.

He loved the Lord and if it was not for losing his voice during his sermon preaching, he would have continued on. He was faithful to God, he loved his members and their families, and he loved his own family. He made sure his children love the Lord he served and provided his children with good education.

After retirement, he and his wife moved to the United States to be with their children and resided in Redlands, California. It was in Loma Linda that he was diagnosed with naso-pharyngeal cancer but he was never discouraged. He continued to remain faithful to God and thanked God for extending his life another 14 years after receiving radiation therapy. He was able to enjoy caring for the grandchildren whom he adored and treasured dearly. He with his wife would visit church members and even shared the vegetables that were harvested from the garden. He was called to rest on October 17, 1988 with the assurance that Jesus will be here soon to take all the faithful home.

Figure 2: Wedding photo of Tan Keng Boon and Lee Bee Choo on April 20, 1935.

Figure 3: Tan Keng Boon (third from right in back row standing), Principal of the Teh Sin School at Kuala Lumpur, taken with school staff in 1947. Can you identify the names of any of the people in the photo?

Figure 4: Pastor & Mrs. Tan Keng Boon with their 8 children, taken in 1980 on the occasion of son James Tan's wedding. From left to right the names are:

Figure 5: Pastor and Mrs. Tan Keng Boon with their children and grandchildren, taken in 1987 on the occasion of daughter Esther's wedding at Loma Linda (?), California.