Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Churches in West Malaysia
Wu Chook Ying (吳竹影) and Leong Fai (梁輝)
Basic Demographic Information
Church Locations: Kuala Lumpur, Jahor Baru
Church Administrative Unit: , Southern Asia-Pacific Division
Date Officially Formed:
Church Website: ???
Current Address: Singapore
Date on which Current Sanctuary was Established:
Current Membership: .
When the Australasian Union Conference sent G. F. Jones (鍾士) and his wife to station in Singapore in 1904, Singapore and the Malay Peninsula in the north was known collectively as Malaya (馬來亞). Politically, the peninsular was divided into three divisions, namely, the Straits Settlements (海峽殖民地), the Federated Malay States (馬來聯邦), and the Unfederated Malay States (馬來屬邦). The Straits Settlements comprised Singapore, Malacca (馬六甲) and Penang (檳城). The Federated Malay States comprised Negeri Sembilan (森美蘭), Pahang (彭亨), Perak (霹靂), and Selangor (雪蘭莪). The Unfederated Malay States comprised Johore (柔佛), Kedah (吉打), Kelantan (吉蘭丹), Perlis (玻璃市) and Trengganu (丁加奴/登嘉樓). The eleven states, together with Singapore, ruled directly or indirectly by the British government, were like twelve provinces in a country. The people could travel freely and used the same currency. Since 1963, the eleven states have been known collectively as Peninsular Malaysia.
The Joneses were accompanied from Australia by a self-supporting colporteur, R. A. Caldwell (葛威爾). Besides working in Singapore, Caldwell spent about three months in Malaya, most of the time in Penang. He was, of course, selling English literature. Then he left Singapore in August 1905. In early 1906, G. F. Jones reported that a Chinese family who just accepted the truth moved from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (吉隆坡) in Selangor.
F. J. Parkin (白堅), the next colporteur from Australia to Singapore, arrived in February 1906. Then in 1907, he went to canvass in Penang. Soon W. W. Fletcher (費雷哲), another missionary from Australia, went from Singapore to Penang to assist Parkin for a week. He expressed the hope that there would be books in Chinese, as well as two or three young men to master the Chinese language to lead out the work.
In 1908 Amy Chan Teck Sung (曾德雙), who later known as Mrs. Amy Tan Soo Meng (陳樹明師母), of Singapore went with her parents and her little brother (曾再德) to canvass in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh (怡保) in Perak, and Seremban (芙蓉) in Negeri Semilan, where there were large Chinese population. The mother-daughter team sold English and Malay editions of Christ our Saviour, while the father Chan Thiam Hee (曾添喜) sold Chinese tracts. This was the first time that Chinese literature of our denomination was introduced in Malaya.
In 1910 Roy P. Montgomery (蒙哥美利) and his wife, nee Nellie Korns, underwent special training in Washington Foreign Mission Seminary (predecessor of Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University) in Takoma Park, Maryland. In early 1911 they arrived in Kuala Lumpur (吉隆坡), capital of the Federated Malay States, to start a permanent work for the denomination. On October 10 of that year, the Wuchang Uprising (武昌起義) in China shook the nation as well as the overseas Chinese communities. Reported Montgomery, “Although the Federated Malay States are not Chinese territory, but are under the protection of England, yet we have witnessed some of the revolutionary spirit here. The Chinese took sides for and against the revolution, and war in a small way began. While some had cut off their queues, others said that they were not going to cut off until they were sure that a republic would be established in China. Those in favor of the revolution caught such and cut off their queues. An extra force of police was put into service, and at times the Chinese attacked them, even going so far as to assault the police station. It was several days before the trouble was stopped. Similar outbreaks were witnessed in the surrounding towns, in the (tin) mines, and on the rubble estates. It is estimated that about one thousand persons were killed. We are happy that we can be engaged in a work which is to gather out those who do not care to participate in this world’s strife, and make them fit for the kingdom of peace. We have rented a hall in the southern part of Kuala Lumpur, in which we are holding services twice a week. We are having a good attendance of educated Tamils and a few Chinese.” (Review and Herald, April 18, 1912, pp. 16, 17.)
In a later report Roy P. Montgomery said, “Mrs. Montgomery has a number of Chinese Nonyas (娘惹) with whom she is studying the truth in Malay and English. [Nonyas are Straits-born Chinese women; the men are called Babas (峇峇).] One woman especially is becoming deeply interested.” (Review and Herald, September 12, 1912, p. 14.) Meanwhile, Roy began to learn the Hakka dialect, and soon was able to use it and worked among the Hakka people.
By the end of 1911, there was a Sabbath school of ten members in Kuala Lumpur. They were Chinese and Tamils who had left the Catholic Church. When the Federated Malay States Mission was organized on July 1, 1914, with George A. Thompson (湯普生) as director, secretary and treasurer, it consisted of only an organized church of twelve members. When the Malaysian Union Conference (南洋聯合會), whose territories covered British Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia) and Netherlands East Indies (荷屬東印度), now Indonesia, was organized in 1917, the Kuala Lumpur church had twenty plus members. Most of them were the Tamil people from India. [Editor note: Malaysia was then a geographical term referring to British Malaya and Netherlands East Indies where Malay language was widely used.]
A few years later, greater efforts were made among the Chinese, and the composition of the church membership began to swing to that ethnic group. In 1922 Francis A. Detamore (戴德慕), Malaysian Union Mission superintendent and father of Fordyce W. Detamore (戴德模who was well-known evangelist in the Far Eastern Division in 1950s and 1960s) reported in the Review and Herald that there were four Chinese evangelists in the Malay States Mission: two at Kuala Lumpur, one at Ipoh (怡保), and one at Seremban (芙蓉). Of the 102 converts baptized during the years 1925 and 1926, nearly all of them were Chinese from non-Christian backgrounds. From that small beginning, there were, up to 2008, 13 Chinese congregations in the following towns/cities in Peninsular Malaysia: (1) Ipoh; (2) Klang (巴生), Selangor;(3) Kota Baru (哥打峇汝), Kelantan; (4) Kuala Lumpur, (5) Kuantan (關丹), Pahang; (6) Kulai (古來), Johore; (7) Malacca (馬六甲bilingual); (8) Muar (麻坡bilingual), Johore; (9) Penang (檳城); (10) Petaling Jaya (八大靈), Selangor; (11) Pontian Kechil (小笨珍), Johore; (12) Puchong (蒲種), Selangor; and (13) Skudai (士姑來), Johore. Some time in 2008 the Klang Chinese church stopped its meetings, and the mission has had no immediate plan to revive it.
The Chinese congregation in Kluang (居鑾), Johore, was dissolved in 1981. However, it revived in 2008, and presently there are about twenty members worshipping in self-owned premises. It is a three-story shop lot, which the mission purchased. The ground floor serves as the publishing office and Adventist Book Center. The third floor serves as a guesthouse for traveling pastors and mission staff members. The local church members raised 50% of the fund to purchase the second floor as their chapel.
In 1917 the State of Johore was assigned to the (old) Singapore Mission. In 1921 budget was made for a mission station at Batu Pahat (峇都巴轄), a coastal town of Johore. In 1922 budget provision was made for a national worker to be stationed at Muar, another coastal town of Johore, situated between Batu Pahat and Malacca. However, those early ventures did not take root.
The interest at Ipoh (怡保) was started by one who had learned the truth for a number of years. He began to keep the Sabbath. In 1920, he asked for someone to be sent to his hometown to teach the people our message. In response to the appeal, G. A. Thompson (湯普生) sent a Chinese evangelist to Ipoh. During the August school break in that year of the Singapore Training School (predecessor of Southeast Asia Union College), Phang Nyuk Thin (彭玉亭father of Phang Yin Hee [彭應熙] who was in turn father-in-law of Eugene Hsu King Yi [徐精一]), head of the Bible Training course of the Chinese department, was sent there to help in the new interest. G. A. Thompson spent many weeks with the Chinese worker. As a result, seventeen people were baptized. Some of the young people were sent to the training school in Singapore, where there were baptized later. Wan Yun Chong (萬潤章) was then stationed in Ipoh. From time to time Thompson went there to strengthen the work.
A general meeting was held for the believers and enquirers in Ipoh, October 1 to 8, 1921. On Sabbath, the first day of the meeting, about 110 persons was in attendance. Many were heathen a year before, but a greater part had not yet been baptized. Early in the meeting a baptismal class was formed. Over thirty expressed their desire for baptism. However, only nine could be ready for the rite. They were immersed by G. A. Thompson on the last Sabbath of the meeting. Before the general meeting Thompson spent more than a month to make preparation for it. After the meeting he spent another month to do the follow-up work. (Asiatic Division Outlook, November 1921, p. 8.)
On December 16, 1923 the Malaysian Union executive committee voted to authorize the Malay States Mission to use their Ipoh rent and 1922 Harvest Ingathering funds from Ipoh for erection of a permanent chapel. In 1942 when Japan began to rule Singapore and Malaya, Chin Kong Tai (陳光大) was transferred from Singapore to Ipoh, his hometown, to take care of the work. There was such a huge crowd of passengers at Tanjong Pagar station (丹戎巴葛火車站) in Singapore, he and his newly married bride (they were married on Christmas Eve, 1941) had to climb through the coach window in order to get a standing room in the train. Arriving in Ipoh, they found no church building. With the help of church members, Chin Kong Tai built two atap houses, one as a church and one as his and his wife’s dwelling place. (The Last Day Shepherd’s Call, August 2001, p. 35.)
The church was in Kampong Pisang (碧山園), which meant “Banana Village.” The village, near the Kinta River (近打河), was so named because bananas plants grew everywhere. The following is a translation of a Sabbath service record hand-written by Chin Kong Tai. [A photocopy of the record was sent, in July 2009, to the writer by Liew Chong Kim (劉重慶), a church elder of Ipoh church since 1980.]
The Time: Showa (昭和) 19th year, September 4, (A.D. September 4, 1943), 12:00 noon (Tokyo time).
The Venue: Adventist Church in Kampong Pisang.
Today the weather is especially fine. The warm sunshine illuminates the great earth. The grass and trees are flourishing. The birds sing their carols among the branches of the trees. All the nature shows that today is a happy day—–the Sabbath blessed by God.
At noon, the chairman rings the bell to signal the service is to begin. The members and guests have already filled the hall. There are more than ninety in attendance, breaking the record since the war began. Every one is lively and in happy mood, preparing to receive the blessings from God.
After the Sabbath school, there is the divine service. Today Pastor Tan Kia Ou (陳鏡湖), president of the Malayan Union, and Pastor Moses, director of the central district, were present. [During the war years the Malay States Mission was divided into three districts. The director of the northern district was Daniel Liem (林天恩) with office at Penang, the director of the central district was John Moses with office at Kuala Lumpur, and the director of the southern district was Phang Yin Hee (彭應熙) with office at Singapore.] Pastor Tan preached the sermon. His title is Rebirth. The general idea is the importance and meaning of being born again. After Mr. Chin Kong Tai introduced the baptismal candidates, Wen Hui Mei (溫慧梅), a female representative and a former member of the True Jesus Church (真耶穌教會), and Chong Suk Yuan (鍾淑源), a male representative, gave their testimonies, which greatly move the congregation. In front of the church there is a river flowing by. The water is so clear that one can see the riverbed. In the slowly moving water the brethren and sisters are baptized. [The names of the five sisters and the five brethren are listed in the record.] After the baptismal service the congregation gather again in the hall. Elder Wong Tou Onn (黃道安) receive the candidates officially into the church fellowship. The service closed with benediction by Pastor Tan. The secretary of the record: Chin Kong Tai. [In the 1950s Elder T. O. Wong and his family moved to Singapore and he served as a church elder for many years in the Chinese church. In the 1950s Tan Kwee Seong (鄧貴祥), one of the five new members became a colporteur canvassing for Chinese Signs of the Times, Overseas edition. Later he migrated to Singapore and served as an elder of the Chinese church for many years until he dropped dead unexpectedly while he was just quoting Psalm 90 as he began to give a testimony during a church retreat in Johore, September 6, 2008 at age 85. Chong Sin Eng (鍾新英), one of the five new female members also migrated to Singapore and is still a member of the Chinese church. William Ng (吳乃福), one of her sons, is an active member in the same church.]
In the later part of his pastorate, again with the help of church members, Chin Kong Tai built a simple wooden structure with a zinc roof. Inside, a rough partition divided the room into a sanctuary and a one-room elementary school (信德學校). In 1948 Daniel Liem was pastor of the church. For more than 30 years the Ipoh church members had longed for a suitable church building. Funds received from solicitation, gifts from church members, and special appropriations, at last enabled them to build a concrete church and began to worship in late January 1951. (Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1951, p. 6.)
The new Ipoh church in Theatre Street (戲院街) had a seating capacity of about one hundred and seventy. It was ideally located in the center of the town. The dedicatory service was held on Sabbath, March 24, 1951. J. M. Nerness (倪廼士), president of the Malayan Union, gave the dedicatory sermon. He was assisted in the service by Phang Yin Hee (彭應熙), president of the Malay States Mission, Daniel Liem, the outgoing church pastor, and Ho Wai Yue (何韋如), pastor of the Cholon (堤岸) Chinese church in Saigon (西貢), Vietnam. Pastor Liem was soon transferred to Singapore Chinese Church.
Pastor Ho came to Singapore to attend the Union biennial session early in the year. Right after the dedication of the Ipoh church, he held a four-week effort in the church. The attendance throughout the series of lectures was very encouraging. (The Messenger, July 1951, p. 3.) [Editor’s note: The messenger is the official organ of the Southeast Asia Union Mission.]
In 1951 Joshua Chong Yun Foh (張永和), who had just graduated from Philippine Union College, returned on May 9. A few days later he and his family left Singapore for Ipoh to become the pastor there. As there was no parsonage in the Theatre Street, he and his family lived in Kampong Pisang. [Joshua Chong was ordained to the gospel ministry on June 13, 1953 while attending the Union session in Singapore.] Twenty years later, the church building had to be demolished to make way for a government’s building project. Another new church building, similar in design to the Phuket (普吉) church in Thailand and more spacious than the demolished church, was erected on Tambun Road (打捫路).This section of the road was renamed in 1992 as Jalan Raja Di Hilir. The Chinese name is “Third King Road”[三王路], for Raja Di Hilir is the third in line of succession. The church building was completed in June 1972, and dedicated on July 8, 1972. (The Messenger, September-October 1972, p. 9; Far Eastern Division Outlook, October 1972, p. 6.)
Meanwhile Joshua Chong was transferred from Ipoh to Singapore in 1954 to be head of the Chinese Ministerial Training Department at Malayan Seminary. Among the students were Wu Seng Tek (吳勝德), who after graduation in 1956 served as pastor of Ipoh for two years, and Giang Tu Minh (江自明, now as Davis Kong working in Hong Kong), graduated in 1957. Interestingly, it was during Kong’s tenure as church pastor in Ipoh, after having served in Cambodia and other places, when the second concrete church building was built and dedicated. By then there were two congregations, Chinese and English, met regularly in the church. (The Messenger, May-June 1972, p. 6.) After Joshua Chong left Ipoh, Lai Kong Fatt (黎廣發) was pastor of the Ipoh church. He was also in charge of the work in Kampar (金寶).
According to Liew Chong Kim (劉重慶) the ministers who has served as pastors of his church, besides those mentioned above, are: Tan Keng Boon (陳經文), Leong Swee Gin (梁樹源) [now an active member in the Loma Linda Chinese Church], Paul Tan (陳保羅, a 1960 graduate of Chinese Ministerial Training Course at Southeast Asia Union College), Lian Hoon Ping (連煥平, later known as 連冠統), David Leoh (梁其幹), Liang Ah Onn (梁雅安), Chan Chean Seng (陳振星), Vincent Chee (徐錦泰), James Wah (華開國), Mah Chee Ping (馬志平), Leong Fai (梁輝), David Lee (李健華), Tan Meng Cheng (陳名禎), Andrew Hou Long Chan (侯龍泉).
Up to 1950 there was only one Seventh-day Adventist church building in whole Malaya. Completed in 1927, the church was on Bukit Bintang Road (武吉免登路), Kuala Lumpur. Both the Chinese-speaking and English-speaking congregations shared the same facilities. For nearly 70 years the mission office was in the same premises as the church building. When the land on Bukit Bintang Road was sold in mid 1996, the mission office and the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Church moved to a four-story building at the business center on Jalan Kuchai Lama (舊古仔路) on June 15, 1996. The mission office is on the ground floor and the second floor while the Chinese Church is on the 4th floor. The third floor is used as a multi-purpose hall. The Kuala Lumpur English church, whose members were mostly Chinese and which shared the same sanctuary in the mission compound, moved to another district in a three-story building on Jalan Cheras (焦賴路). The ground floor is Adventist Community Health Centre, and the English church is in the next two upper stories.
Penang (檳城) was the next town in Malaya where Adventist missionaries stationed. In 1916, a colporteur came to Penang to take subscriptions for the Chinese Signs of the Times. “As far as we known there was not a single Seventh-day Adventist in Penang at that time,” said Phang Yin Hee. Eight years later there was a church in the island, and it was the outgrowth of medical evangelism.
After several futile attempts to set up medical practice in the Netherlands East Indies, Dr. J. Earl Gardner (甘寧爾) went to Penang in August 1924, and he and his family stayed there for the next twelve years. On December 12, 1924, Seventh-day Adventist Mission Clinic (predecessor of Penang Adventist Hospital) opened its door. A two-story shop house on the corner of Muntri Street (南華醫院街) and Leith Street (蓮花河街) was used as the clinic on weekdays, and on Sabbath as a meeting place. Assisting Dr. Gardner was Pan Ki Heng (潘祈恒), a ministerial worker who had succeeded Lee Chong Miow (李創錨) as pastor of Singapore Chinese Church in 1916, was transferred from Batavia (now Jakarta) to Penang. Pan was succeeded later by Ng Hock Thye (黃福泰).
In 1926 his eldest brother, Ng Hong Boon (黃鴻文) was employed in his stead. Between 1926 and 1928 some fifty people were baptized. These were organized as a multilingual church. The majority of the members were Chinese. Ng Hong Boon became the first pastor of the church. [Ng Hong Boon was ordained in 1934. In late 1930s he went to Rangoon (仰光, now Yangon), Burma (緬甸, now Myanmar), as a self-supporting missionary among the Chinese. In 1946 he was ordained again in Kunming (昆明), Yunnan (雲南).]
As the membership in Penang grew, the church moved to Northam Road (紅毛路, now Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah), then to Rangoon Road, and finally, around 1936, it moved to a spacious building with a large compound at 140 Burmah Road (車水路, now Jalan Burma). The Chinese and the English congregations, which began to function separately in 1932 while they were on Northem Road, continued the tradition of sharing the facilities. Realizing the need for a permanent church home, a piece of land was bought some time in 1939 with funds appropriated by the General Conference. Plans were laid for the erection of the church building. Unfortunately war broke out in 1941, and the project had to be postponed. The building project was resumed in the latter part of 1950 and completed in July 1951. It was dedicated on Sabbath, September 15 of that year. (The Messenger, October 1951, p. 2.)
In 1959 Wu Seng Tek (吳勝德) became pastor of the Penang Chinese church. He .succeeded Tan Keng Boon (陳經文) who was transferred to Ipoh. In early 1961 Wu Seng Tek was ordained to the gospel ministry in the Penang Chinese church. His father, E. H. Wu (吳榮華), home missionary and publishing secretary for the Malaya Mission, was one of those participated in the ordination service. (The Messenger, May-June 1961, pp. 4,5.)
During his pastorate in Penang, Wu Seng Tek encouraged many young people of the church to take ministerial training in Hong Kong Adventist College, as Southeast Asia Union college offered no more Chinese ministerial training course since 1961. Those outstanding ones are David Leoh (梁其幹), who later became president of the Peninsular Malaysia Mission; Jonathan Foo Ying Meng (符運明) and Doris Wong Yew Khuan (黃有群), (they were united in marriage in 1965 after completion of the two-year theology course) both of them later obtained their doctorate degrees and worked in Hong Kong and America; and Esther Khor (許蕭寶珠), who later became Bible worker in Youngberg Adventist Hospital in Singapore. In 1963 Tan Keng Boon returned from Ipoh to succeed Wu Seng Tek and served till his retirement in 1973, becoming the longest serving Chinese pastor in Penang. (40th Anniversary of the Penang SDA Church Building, 1991, pp. 1, 2, 5, 6, 15, 20.)
The two congregations in Penang continued to grow and it became necessary to have not only a larger sanctuary but also a multi-purpose hall to hold social activities. In 1995 the three story multi-purpose block was completed. In December 1998 the existing church building was demolished and work began on the new edifice. The project was complete by the end of 1999. On January 1, 2000, a special Sabbath worship service was held in the new church building. On July 15, 2000, the church was dedicated.
In 1993 when Farlim (發林), about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Jalan Burma, a large tract of land occupied by vegetable farmers, became a satellite town, the Mission saw the opportunity of establishing some Adventist presence there. Consequently, a building was rented and a group of national Adventist doctors conducted free night clinics for the Farlim community. Later health exhibitions and screenings, cooking classes, and prophecy seminar were held, culminating in a series of evangelistic meetings by church members of the English and the Chinese congregations in Penang. As a result nine persons had been baptized by March 16, 1996, when the bilingual Farlim group was officially organized into a company. It is now an organized church.
The other gospel ministers who have served the Penang Chinese church since 1950 are Miss Ho Yap Shan (何月嫦), a 1960 graduate from the Chinese Ministerial course of Southeast Asia Union College as Pastor Wu’s associate from 1961 to 1963 when she was transferred to serve in the Singapore Chinese church; John Lai (黎約翰), John Lee Kam Hong (李錦洪), Issac Foo (符潤), Lee Choke Woh (李祝和), Liang Ah Onn (梁雅安), Chan Chean Seng (陳振星), Terrance Sim Tian Sang (沈天送), Chai Mien Seng (蔡明成), and Leong Fai (梁輝)..
In 1929 Malacca was transferred to the Singapore Mission from the Malay States Mission. An outstation was set up immediately. September 5, 1929 witnessed the opening of an evangelistic series in a tent in the oldest town in Peninsular Malaysia. It was conducted in English and Malay in alternate nights. For one and a half years, seed sowing had been going on. As a result seven souls were salvaged by God’s power and love. The Adventist church building in Malacca was dedicated in 1963. It is now the home of a bilingual (Chinese and English) congregation.
About 1936 Liau Hon Phin (廖漢平), who had been doing colporteur work for six years in French Indochina, was called to succeed Chu Yun Fatt (朱運發) as pastor of the churches at Seremban (芙蓉) in the State of Negri Sembilan and Batu Pahat (峇都巴轄) in the State of Johore. A year later, owing to some language misunderstanding, W. W. R. Lake (列威廉), director of the Malay States Mission, closed down the two churches. Liau Hon Phin then became a colporteur again till his retirement. In April 1950, while canvassing in Seremban, he sold a copy of Christ Our Saviour in Chinese to Yap Ming (葉明), an idol worshipper. After enrolling in the Bible Correspondence Course and having Bible studies with Chan Sing Chor (陳性初), pastor of Seremban church, Yap Ming, his wife and son became baptized members of the Seremban church. (The Messenger, November-December 1956, p. 6; July 1958, p. 6.)
Being on fire with his newly found faith, Yap Ming dedicated his life by becoming a colporteur in 1951. Soon he brought a Methodist member, Madam Lan Thian Mei (藍添妹) and her son Chow Low Hee (周樓喜) to church services. It was that time the members began to raise funds for building a church to replace the rented quarters. Madam Lan, a poor widow, gave what she had—–$100.00 to the building funds. Later Yap Ming and his family moved to Ipoh, and eventually became elder of the church there. While in Ipoh he brought several people to the church, and one of them became a colporteur too.
In the early 1950s, there was in the Seremban church another colporteur by the name of Lai Kuan Hou (賴均厚). Through his witnessing he brought several people to the church. One of them was Cheng Tam Wun (鄭譚穩), who became a colporteur too. Years later Brother Cheng migrated to Singapore and became an active member of the Jurong Chinese church in Singapore. In 1952, while canvassing in a little village near Kuala Pilah (庇勞) in Negeri Sembilan (森美蘭州), Brother Lai called on Lee Gong Min (李公民), a young tailor. After securing his order for a copy of Way to Health, Lai recommended him to enroll in the VOP Bible course. He became interested and soon completed the two courses offered by the school in Singapore. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Mr. Lee began to keep the Sabbath, and live up to the principles of healthful living. Accompanied by Phang Yin Hee and L. C. Wilcox (衛理覺), Chan Sing Chor went to the village and had a very pleasant visit with him. After further studying with Pastor Chan, Lee was baptized by Phang Yin Hee on December 18, 1954 and joined the Seremban church. At the same service a Madam Lam (林玉蕊), a former Methodist member, was also baptized. (The Messenger, January-February 1955, p. 6.)
Around 1950 there was then in the Seremban church an active member by the name of Cheng Kwai Yong (莊貴榮), a young man born in Haadyai (合艾), Thailand and migrated Malaya during WWII while he was a teenager. In Seremban he used to pedal a trishaw to earn a living. Brought to the church by a fellow trishaw driver, he became acquainted with Chan Sing Chor, the pastor. After he joined the church, he became a colporteur. When the church building project was promoted, he donated S$600.00 toward the building funds. It was the entire amount of his saving during the previous year in selling truth-filled literature, and it doubled that given by the church pastor. Later, in order to better qualify himself, he went to our school in Hong Kong to further his education. Having completed his high school education, he joined the Chinese ministerial training course in Malayan Seminary in Singapore. After graduation from the course in November 1957, he came back to Thailand to engage in colportage work. After working for a short period, as he would like to be a permanent resident in the independent Federation of Malaya, he came to Malaya where he established church work in several towns. He is now a retired ordained minister. He and his wife, as well as his daughter’s family, are members of Farlim (發林) church in Penang.
Located on the edge of the town of Seremban, the fine church building was dedicated on November 28, 1953. It was, at that time, the first Adventist church building in the southern part of Malaya between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Ministers who have served in Seremban are Chow Tham Swee (鄒譚水), a former student of our Teh Sin School in Kuala Lumpur and a 1957 graduate of the Chinese Ministerial Course of Southeast Asia Union College, and Giang Tu Minh (now Davis Kong江自明), also a 1957 graduate of the Chinese Ministerial Course. [After serving in various church positions in Malaya, Kong had to leave Malaya for America because the independent Malaysia government would not permit a Christian missionary to stay beyond the eight-year period. Chow Tham Swee later moved to Singapore and became an active member of the Chinese church.]
Originally the Seremban church was the home of a Chinese congregation. However, it is now the home of a Malay-speaking congregation. The members mostly are from Sabah and Sarawak. Leong Fai, president of the Peninsular Malaysia Mission, commented, “It is difficult to revert the trend, because we are lack of Chinese-speaking pastors.”
In July 1948 the Bible correspondence school was set up in Singapore. The only lessons available were in the English language. Two months later Miss Helen Chew (趙文謙) from Hong Kong took charge of the Chinese section. With the help of colporteurs, the growth in this Chinese section was very rapid from the beginning and had borne excellent fruitage especially in Malaya. In 1959 Cheng Kwai Yong (莊貴榮), a new graduate of the ministerial course in Southeast Asia Union College, was sent with his wife to open work in Muar (麻坡) where there were some active Bible correspondence school students. With several such young people, the Chengs did house to house visitation to recruit new students for the Bible course and inquirers to the Sabbath services. By 1965 when the Chengs were transferred to Kuantan (關丹) to open new work, there were thirty plus persons who attended the Sabbath services regularly. Meanwhile the mission, with M$8,000 purchased a plot of land at a price of M$0.50 per square foot. As the mission was short of funds, E. H. Wu (吳榮華), father of Wu Seng Tek (吳勝德), was requested to solicit building funds from the public in Muar. Several years later, enough money was raised by Ingathering to build a small church building. On Sabbath afternoon, March 31, 1973, the church was dedicated. That evening was the opening night of an evangelistic series conducted by W. T. Clark (柯立凱), secretary of the Far eastern Division, who delivered the dedicatory sermon. He was assisted by David Hor (何榮芳), now a dentist at Milpitas, California. As a result of the meetings, four young people were baptized. One of them later became a mission worker. The Muar church is operating a kindergarten with an enrollment of 60 pupils. Ministers, besides Cheng Kwai Yong and David Hor, who have worked in Muar are Chin Kong Tai (陳光大), Jonathan Ng Tiat Kuan (黃哲寛), Phoon Chek Yat (潘赤日), Joshua Mok Wone (莫書煥), Peter Khoo (邱榮西), Simon Siew (蕭志華), Wung Wai Kong (翁維綱), Lee Choke Woh (李祝和), Terrance Sim Tian Sang (沈天送), Chan Chong Kee (陳中樞), New Keng Seng (梁建成), Andrew Hou Long Chan (侯龍泉), and Dennis Ng (黃明達).
The Advent message came to Kuantan, Pahang, in the 1930s through literature evangelism. Colporteurs canvassed all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Kuantan by bicycle, and then took boat ride to canvass along the coastal towns up to Kota Baru in Kelantan. There was then no main road in Pahang and the other two states, Kelantan (吉蘭丹) and Terengganu (登嘉樓), on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The Chinese Signs of the Times was a popular magazine among the Chinese communities.
After spending 5 years in Muar raising a church of about 40 members, Cheng Kwai Yong was sent to Kuantan in Pahang. He started a Sabbath school for children under a tree. A Mrs. How (陶崔玉蘭), joined the program weekly and became the first Adventist in Kuantan. After four years of hard labor, he was able to get less than ten persons joining the church. Meanwhile there was an urgent need in Kota Baru in Kelantan, and he was transferred there in 1968. The move brought the work in Kuantan to an abrupt end. Most of the members went to join other churches in the town.
In 1979 James Chan (陳進發) with his wife went to Kuantan to canvass for Adventist literature, and reported the response was overwhelming. Then the mission made plans to revive the work. In 1981 Tan Kok Chin (陳國清), a newly graduate from Hong Kong Adventist College, was sent to Kuantan to work alongside with the colporteurs. At the same time 12 theology students from Southeast Asia Union College under the leadership of Phoon Chek Yat (潘赤日) went there from Singapore to prepare the ground work for a series of evangelistic meetings. The series was concluded with a single soul baptized.
In 1985 Janssen New Keng Seng (梁建成) and his fiancée arrived in Kuantan to assist Leong Fai (梁輝) who took over the work that same year. Janssen married soon after his arrival in Kuantan. With their assistance, the church organized two Vacation Bible Schools each year. Through the children the church was able to get in touch with their parents. Later, a Pathfinder Club and an Adventist Youth Club were organized. About 20 young people were led into the church through these ministries. In 1987 Janssen took over the pastoral duty as Leong Fai moved to Kota Baru. In 1992 a piece of land was purchased, and in 1998 a beautiful church building was put up in Kuantan as a memorial to the Lord.
As mentioned earlier, as early as 1930s the Advent message was brought to Kota Baru by literature evangelists. In late 1952 Phang Yin Hee, mission president held several meeting with a number of Hakka Chinese who became interested through the witnessing of Yap Ming (葉明), a faithful colporteur. (The messenger, January-February 1953, p. 6.) Then in about 1965 Yap Ming renewed the canvassing work there. Around this period an Indonesian colporteur was stationed in Kota Baru, and Poh Ho Chin (傅和晉) and his family came to Kota Baru from Sungai Petani, (雙溪大年), Kedah for his car cushion business. His parents were leaders of a Sunday church in Sungai Petani. He joined the Adventist church through the Bible correspondence school. Newly arriving in the town, Poh and his family attended the Presbyterian Church, the only Christian church in the town. Meanwhile the Indonesian colporteur gathered a few Malay-speaking Chinese for Bible study. Together with Poh Ho Chin, they sent an urgent message to the mission for a ministerial worker to begin a church work. In 1968 Cheng Kwai Yong was transferred from Kuantan to Kota Baru. Soon, a regular group met every Sabbath. In 1974 Liang Ah Onn (梁雅安), a young graduate of Southeast Asia Union was sent to replace Cheng Kwai Yong. On January 4, 1975, the company of believers was organized into a church. In 1977 Isaac Foo (符潤), a young graduate from Hong Kong Adventist College, was sent there. The church grew from about 50 attendees to almost 100 at one time. At that time Kota Baru had the strongest youth program with more than 100 youth attending weekly AY programs. Sad to say, the scene did not last long. In 1980 Isaac was transferred to Penang, his hometown, to replace John Lee Kam Hong (李錦洪).
Due to tenancy problem, the congregation in Kota Baru moved eight times over the 30-year period. Finally, with the help of the mission, a two-story shop lot was acquired in 1999.
The Petaling Jaya (八打靈) Chinese Church was the result of lay members’ efforts. About six miles (10 km) south of Kuala Lumpur, the Federal capital, Petaling Jaya was the first satellite new town of the Federation of Malaya. In that town were several members of the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Church. Among them were Mrs. Ngoi Bang King (魏邦慶師母) and Mr. and Mrs. Chong Heng Chow (張顯招伉儷). Mrs. Ngoi (nee Huang Ee Teck [黃懿德]), Pastor Ng Hong Boon’s sister, was employed as a Bible worker by the Penang Mission Clinic (predecessor of Penang Adventist Hospital) in late 1927, and then as preceptress at the Malayan Seminary in 1932. After she married in late 1930s she became an active member in the Kuala Lumpur Church. Mrs. Chong, Heng Chow, nee Wong Kim Heong (黃錦香), was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wong Kah Fook (黃加福) who were among the first batch of Adventists in Penang.
As road communication between the new town and the capital was not very convenient in the early years, a branch Sabbath school was organized in Mrs. Ngoi’s home in September 1956. Chong Heng Chow, then as home missionary secretary of Kuala Lumpur church, was active in rounding up members of the branch Sabbath school every Sabbath. The branch Sabbath school continued to grow and eventually a church was organized and members met in the home of the Chongs for worship.
The first pastor of the church was Peter Khoo (邱榮西). In early 1970s he conducted a week of evangelistic meetings. A group of graduates of high school in the town came to the meetings. At the end of the meetings, those young people continued to attend the Sabbath services. After several months of Bible studies, some of them were baptized. The next years three of them went to Hong Kong Adventist College to take theology course. Two of them, Leong Fai (梁輝) and Lee Ckoke Woh (李祝和), are now ordained ministers. Graduating in June 1980, Leong Fai came back to serve the Lord. His first assignment was pastor of both Kuala Lumpur Chinese church and Petaling Jaya Chinese church. He is now president of the Peninsular Malaysia Mission.
As the hall in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Chong Heng Chow was too small to accommodate the growing number of worshippers, in 1984 they offered the church to use their other house of similar type nearby for services. In 1989 they donated the house, which was worth around M$1,000,000 at that time, to the General Conference Corporation.
In the course of time the house was in need of major repairs. In 2002 the church board decided to demolish the house and build on its site a brand new church building. The mission agreed to share half the building cost. In April 2004 the construction began The Chinese congregation then met in the Petaling Jaya English Church. In February 2005 the brand new church building was ready for use. On May 15, an official opening service was held. Other ministers who have served the Petaling Jaya Chinese church are Joshua Mok Wone (莫書煥), John Lee Kam Hong (李錦洪), Chan Chong Kee (陳中樞), and Peter Foo Chee Fah (傅志華), a graduate of Taiwan Adventist College and now pastor of the Singapore Chinese church.
The work in Kulai (古來), Johore began from a copy of Chinese Signs of the Times. Around 1964 Mrs. Chai Yong (蔡湧師母) bought a copy of Signs of the Times from a student colporteur of Southeast Asia Union College. Reading the magazine, her husband saw a Bible Correspondence School enrollment card attached to it. Though a non-Christian then, he enrolled in a Bible correspondence course whose office was in Singapore. Faithfully he studied the lessons up to the advanced level. Finally, in 1965, he went to Singapore to meet Miss Helen Chew (趙文謙), director of the Chinese section of the school. Miss Chew introduced him to the Johore Bahru (JB) church, the nearest church to Kulai.
From 1966 to 1967, Chai Yong, together with his wife and their young children, Fui Ngoh (惠娥), Teck Hoi (德海), and Teck Yong (德洋), traveled 20 miles to attend the JB English church faithfully every Sabbath. As they could only understand Chinese, Chu Sing Fatt (朱新發) [a younger brother of Chu Yun Fatt (朱運發)], and Chin Chow Khoon (陳超謹) translated for the couple during the Sabbath school and divine service.
In 1968 Chai Yong sent his two older children, Tech Sin and Sew Moi, to study in Southeast Asia Union College (SAUC), where both of them were eventually baptized. In June of that year, Chai Yong himself was baptized by Chu Sing Fatt in JB church. Around 1969 seven other members of the Chai family were baptized too by Chu Sing Fatt in JB church.
At Mr. Chai’s suggestion, services in Chinese were held every Sabbath afternoon in upstairs of Mr. Chai’s shop house in Kulai Besar (古來大街). Initially those in attendance were Chai family members. The people who took part in opening this new work were Chu Sing Fatt, and Charles Lee Tsai Teck (李再德) [now an active member in Loma Linda Chinese Church]. Later, Charles Lee and Liang Ah Onn (梁雅安), then a student of SAUC, started a branch Sabbath school for the Chai children (Mr. and Mrs. Chai had altogether eleven children) as well as the neighborhood children. The children enjoyed listening to Liang’s Bible stories. More and more children came to this branch Sabbath school.
From 1970 to 1973, Lian Hoon Ping (連煥平), Phoon Chek Yat (潘赤日), and other SAUC students also took part in the development of the work in Kulai. During this time Mrs. Chai, who was a Baptist, was accepted into the church by profession of faith, and Grandma Chai was baptized at the age of 82 by Chu Sing Fatt.
In the early days, some members of JB church and ministerial students of SAUC would go to Kulai by JB church van every Sabbath afternoon. Chu Sing Fatt was the first “official” pastor of Kulai church. He preached a sermon every Sabbath. Besides Kulai, people from Kulai Besar, Seleng (沙冷), and Senai (士乃) started to attend the worship services. As the number of worshippers increased, the time of service was changed from afternoon to morning.
During this period the first camp meeting was held in the ground of the town hall. Charles Lee was the main speaker. A few JB church members and some SAUC students were at hand to help. A few hundred people were in attendance. Since this first camp meeting, the church grew tremendously, especially more and more young people were in attendance.
From 1974 to 1977 Lian Hoon Ping succeeded Chu Sing Fatt as pastor of the church, known as Kulai SDA Company. A few years later, Joseph Tham Yoon Chiang (譚永青) started Pathfinder club. The first club members were Pang Piow Han (馮標漢currently the head elder), Wong Yong Mei (黃榮美), Chai Fui Ngoh (蔡惠娥) and some ten other young people.
Due to tenancy problem, the congregation in Kulai moved more than seven times. Eventually, in 1998, it found its permanent location in a double story shop lot. To accommodate the growing membership, another shop lot next to the original shop lot was purchased in 2009. There are now more than ninety members in the church. The regular attendance is more than one hundred.
In 1993, Hew Yit Lian (邱玉蓮), who lived in Tun Aminah (皇后), a small town in Johore and about 20 t0 30 minutes minute car drive from Kulai (古來), brought her two daughters, aged 2 and 4, to attend the Kulai Chinese church every Sabbath. She had to take a bus, then by a taxi and finally traveled on foot in order to reach the church. The trip took more than an hour and a half. Later, she found that quite a number of former Adventist women lived in her neighborhood. They were former members of Pontian (笨珍) Chinese church. They married non-believers and moved to Skudai, which is very close to Tun Aminah. In fact the two geographical names are sometimes used interchangeably. For the sake of the family, these women were unable to attend church in Pontian. One of them, Ng Kwee Hock (黃桂葉), though was not attending church regularly, faithfully set aside her tithe every month.
Encouraged by Tan Chee Keong (陳志強), a member of Kulai Chinese church; and assisted by Sim Sook Hong (沈素鳳) and her husband Chai Kim Fah (蔡金華), both were Kulai church members living in Tun Aminah; and her own husband Pua Soon Kee (潘順記), Hew Yit Lian started a cell group in her home. During the first two months there was little response from those Pontian church members, for they were not acquainted with Hew Yit Lian and her associates. Sim Sook Hong and Chai Kin Fah eventually resumed their cell group attendance at Kulai. However, Hew Yit Lian did not give up. She pleaded with God to send someone to her for a year.
Meanwhile Elmo See (薛堅茂), a fresh graduate of Southeast Asia Union College in his late 30s, was appointed pastor of JB English church. Before he went to SAUC, he had been a youth leader of Pontian Chinese church and led many people to become church members. Though a pastor of an English church, Elmo would like to start a Chinese cell group in Johore Baru area. So he contacted Hew Yit Lian. To her amazement, she discovered Elmo was close friends of those former Pontian church members living in Skudai.
Without delay Elmo visited and invited those women from Pontian to attend the cell group at the home of Hew Yit Lian. The women brought along their children with them. Then Liang Zhen Jie (梁珍潔), a Kulai church member came to help the cell group. With Elso’s teaching and training, and the blessing of God, the cell group grew from less than 10 persons to more than 40 in a year. At the end of the year, Elmo See organized a dinner at a restaurant to celebrate the first anniversary of the Tun Aminah cell group. The next morning the group learned of the tragic news of the murder of Elmo See. Though greatly shaken, the cell group members stayed and worked together. Finally the Skudai Chinese church was organized on March 18, 1995. As of August 2010, the membership is 57. The church meets on the third floor in a three-story shop lot owned by the mission. The second floor is the kitchen, and the ground floor is rented to a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant. The present pastor is Wong Tat Ying (黃達穎), who is also in charge of Kulai church and Ulu Tiram (烏魯地南) church. The Ulu Tiram church is an English and Malay-speaking congregation, but most of its Chinese members speak Mandarin.
In early 1997, Friday night meetings were held in Elder Chong Kum Fatt’s (張錦發) house in Ulu Triam. Sonny Khoo (邱杰材), pastor of JB English church, took an active part in opening the work in Ulu Tiram. He preached in most of the Friday night meetings. At the end of 1997, Sonny Khoo left for Kuching, Sarawak. However, the Friday night meetings continued under the active of Elder Chong, Herris Yutui and others till the end of 1998. Though the attendance dwindled, the meetings continued on.
In early 1999, the Ulu Tiram group moved to a rented shop house with proper church services on Sabbath afternoon. Some members of the JB English church, including Elder Ang and family, Eddie Madius and Herris Yutui, helped to set up the new church. Joshua Gan (顔雪賀), pastor of JB church, was also in charge of Ulu Tiram work. Later the church services were held in the morning with the pastor and members taking turn to preach.
In 2000 the Ulu Tiram congregation received a donation of RM 100,000 from the late Mrs. Daisy Lee for the purchase of a shop house as a meeting place. With much prayers a corner shop house with land in Taman Mutiara was found. With the mission’s assistance, the house was purchased. With help from Elder Chong and Elder Ang, Joshua Gan took charge of the renovation of the rather run-down house.
In late 2001 the Ulu Tiram church was officially opened by Francis Lajanim and Terrance Sim (沈天送), president and secretary, respectively, of the Peninsular Malaysia Mission. Initially, the services were in English and Malay. As more and more Mandarin speaking members attended the services, Mandarin has been added in the services since the later part of 2008. [Editor’s note: Francis Lajanim was formerly a worker in the Sabah Mission.]
Puchong (蒲種) in the State of Selangor (雪蘭莪州) used to be mostly rubber estates and tin mines. By the end of the last century it had grown to be a town with a population of nearly 800,000. The majority of them are Chinese. In 1999, six families, who were members of the Petaling Jaya (八打靈) Chinese church, decided to set up a meeting place at Puchong, so that they could bring the gospel to the town people. They were the families of Elder Fan Swee Cheong (范瑞昌), Brother Fan Swee Fah (范瑞華), Sister Cheong Moi (張梅), Sister Wong Mei Ying (黃美英), Sister Lim Siew Lee (林秀莉), and Brother Tan Kok Chin (陳國清). Later. because of friendship and spacious parking lot, three more families began to join their effort in Puchong. They were the families of Elder Loh Wun Chuan (羅運泉), Elder Chan Chun Fatt (陳進發), and Sam Kok Wah (沈國華).
At the beginning Pastor Terrance Sim Tian Sang (沈天送), secretary of the Peninsular Malaysia Mission, served concurrently as pastor of the Puchong Chinese church. He was succeeded, in turns, by Peter Foo Chee Fah (傅志華), Tay Song Ven (戴雄文) and Lee Yao Han (李耀漢). Presently, Sunny Tan Chow Siang (陳朝祥) is the pastor. With the united effort of the members and the leading of the successive ministers, by August 2010, nineteen precious souls has been led to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
The Puchong Chinese church is not only a meeting place for the congregation but also a social service center. Every year the church conducts different activities such as natural treatment demonstrations, massage training class, health lectures, and blood-donation campaign. Besides, there are monthly cooking class and other activities. In working with the community association, the church conducts free health screening, and teaches the people how to live a healthy and happy life. At the end of every year, several local schools will invite the church to conduct a two-day class, teaching first aids to their students and teachers.
In 1913, Amy Chan Teck Sung (曾德雙), a Bible worker in the Singapore Mission, through a hospital assistant, made acquaintance with the family of Lee Shin Kong (李承光) in Singapore. Amy gave Bible study to Mrs. Lee and took her to the Adventist church on Penang Road. Two years later, Amy Chan married Tan Soo Ming (陳樹明) and soon migrated to Kuching, Sarawak as self-supporting missionaries. In 1917 Mr. and Mrs. Lee Shin Kong moved from Kelantan to Johore Bahru (新山) and Mrs. Lee was baptized in that year. From then on Bible studies and cottage meetings were held in their home from time to time by F. A. Detamore (戴德慕), Malaysian Union president, J. W. Rowland (羅蘭), Singapore Mission president, and mission workers such as Phang Nyuk Thin (彭玉亭), Tsen Shau Tse (曾紹嗣), and other laymen such as C. M. Lee (李創錨) and his wife, Tan Sim Hong (陳森鴻) and his wife. The last named two couples were sons-in-law and daughters of Chan Thiam Hee (曾添喜), who was also Amy Chan’s father..
About this time, Lee Shing Jung (李承璋), who was brought up by his brother Lee Shin Kong since he was seven years old, became a student in the Malaysian Union Seminary in Singapore. In late 1920s he went to China and became a prominent worker in the China Division.
In 1926 William W. R. Lake (列威廉) became Singapore Mission president and he organized prayer meetings in their home. A year later seven people from Johore Bahru were baptized in the Penang Road church in Singapore. Mr. Lee Shin Kong was one of the seven. On page 3 in the October 1927 issue of Far Eastern Division Outlook, C. M. Lee, a former mission worker and then became a layman, reported that the number of interested ones in attendance at cottage meetings being held by him each week in Johore Bahru. This evidently was a bi-lingual group. He further reported that a Bible Class for English children from four to ten years of age had been formed. Mrs. Lake, a British citizen, was in charge of these children while Lee continued to labor behalf of the adults.
In 1929 the group was under the leadership of Pan Ki Heng (潘祈恒). The group continued to grow and meetings were held in various homes. In the latter part of 1952 and the early months of 1953, H. W. Peterson (裴德遜) and K. O. Tan (陳鏡湖) began to raise funds for a church building in Johore Bahru. The government gave a favorable site of more than one acre of land. The building was began in 1954 and completed in 1955. On May 19, 1956, the Johore Bahru church was organized with 16 charter members. A week later, May 26, the new church building was formerly opened to the public. J. M. Nerness (倪廼士), president of the Malayan Union, gave his last word of counsel to the church before his departure permanently from Malayan Union. On the morning of May 27, Nerness family left Singapore by air for their homeland. (The Messenger, May-June 1956, pp. 3-6; Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1956, p. 10.)
However, it took a few years to pay the debts incurred in its construction Almost ten years later, on Sabbath, January 1, 1966, the church was dedicated to the honor and glory of God. Mrs. Amy Tan was honored on that day for having been the first person to introduce the Bible truths to the early members of that community. (Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1966, p. 20.)
1. Author & title?, The Messenger, May-June 1956, pp. 3-6
2. Author & title?, Far Eastern Division Outlook, July 1956, p. 10.
3.Author & title?, Far Eastern Division Outlook, March 1966, p. 20.