Stories: by Person: T

Philip Teng

(Jinhui Teng, 滕近輝)
1922 ~ 2013

He was the most eminent Chinese pastor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a distinguished leader of the global Chinese Christian community, and a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ. He was, forever in loving memory, Reverend Philip Teng.

Early life

Rev. Teng, formerly named Huaizhi (懷智), was born on 15 January 1922 in Wei County, Shandong Province, to a Christian family. His grandfather was an elder of the Presbyterian Church. His father, Rev. Teng Jingrui (滕景瑞牧師), had dedicated his life to preaching in response to a call by revival evangelist Rev. Ding Limei (丁立美牧師) .

Having completed his primary education in a church- affiliated school, Rev. Teng was already a devoted Christian and keen on spreading the gospel while in high school. He was invited to preach at Sunday services of China Inland Mission churches whereby his desire to dedicate his life to preaching became evident.

Rev. Teng majored in foreign languages at the state-run Northwestern United University. In July 1945, he attended the China inter-varsity Christian students summer conference where his formal dedication to preaching took place at a meeting conducted by Zhao Junying (趙君影).

With the assistance of Maida Contento (wife of Rev. Paul Contento), Rev. Teng travelled to Scotland to study theology at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1950. Upon return, he was miraculously permitted to stay in Hong Kong which saw the beginning of more than 60 years of holy service reaching across the world.

Ministries in Hong Kong

Rev. Teng started in Hong Kong by helping Rev. Zhao Junying with work in the written media. The next year, he taught at Guangzhou Bible Institute (later Evangel Seminary), where he was also dean of studies. Rev. Teng started teaching part-time at Alliance Bible Institute in 1952, turning full time in 1956. In 1957, he received recommendation from institute president William Newbern and was appointed as senior pastor of North Point Alliance Church (NPAC). The next year, in 1958, Rev. Teng was ordained. Supported by Rev. Wu Chin and others, he took the helm of NPAC faithfully for the next 30 years and more, which saw the congregation growing from a hundred to more than a thousand and the planting of more than 10 churches.

His teachings, life and ministries proved to be examples for multitudes of believers and also set the spiritual direction for the church as a whole. When Rev. Teng retired from NPAC in 1987, he handed over the NPAC ministries to Rev. Gordon Siu, whom he personally groomed.

Rev. Teng led Hong Kong Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) for more than 30 years, taking over from western missionaries, and advanced church expansion and social services despite limited resources. In 1958, he chaired the deans committee of Chinese C&MA (Hong Kong) and in the next year formed a joint committee of Chinese churches of C&MA, also acting as chairman. In 1963, he was elected the first chairman of the executive committee of Christian and Missionary Alliance Church Union of Hong Kong a post he held for 13 sessions until 1989. Under his leadership, co-workers were united and focused on building up spiritual life and fulfilling the gospel mission. Rev. Teng set a firm spiritual foundation for Hong Kong C&MA. He also personally set down a 10-year expansion plan from 1984 to 1993, helping members to adjust their mode of service and pace of development to align with social changes. Upon retirement, Rev. Teng was honorary president and chief pastoral consultant of Hong Kong C&MA, leaving a legacy of good influence.

Insight and Horizons

The insight and horizons of Rev. Teng were broad. In addition to church ministries, he undertook a number of local and international services. He had been consultant and sat on the board of directors of a number of evangelistic bodies including those on student movement, labor services, prison service, medical fellowships, evangelistic broadcasting, Bible study promotion, etc. None of this he did for reputation, but to assist these new ministries to gain recognition and support from churches. Among them, three areas are worth mentioning:

The first is ministry in the written media. Rev. Teng's first job in Hong Kong was Chief Editor for an inter-college paper (學聯報) after which he -became Chief Editor of Decision monthly magazine (《抉擇》月刊). Proficient in both Chinese and English, Rev. Teng had written more than 20 books, including his autobiography, All is Grace. His Chinese calligraphy was remarkable and is still being displayed in churches and organizations all over the world. Rev. Teng contributed to church music by translating a host of songs for the 10 volumes of Youth Hymns and working on the revised edition of Evangel Hymnal.

The second is world mission. From his youth when he took part in student movements, Rev. Teng had placed great emphasis on evangelism and mission. For many years he was chairman of Hong Kong Association of Christian Missions and served as script writer and helped with recording for Far East Broadcasting Company (Hong Kong). He was also firmly behind C&MA's missionary work. Under his guidance, NPAC contributed a third of its annual offerings to mission and supported the work of various overseas churches and ministries. In 1978, Rev. Teng and his wife laid down their busy duties in Hong Kong and took up missionary work in Indonesia for one year, setting up some 10 ethnic Chinese churches.

The third area is theological education. While being noted for ministries at NPAC, Rev. Teng had in fact never ceased participating in theological education all his life. In fact, he spent more than half a century in this area, much longer than his church ministries. Ever since graduating from the United Kingdom, Rev Teng had since 1952 taught at the Guangzhou Bible Institute, the Alliance Bible Institute and Bethel Bible Seminary. Among them, his service at Alliance Bible Institute (later Alliance Bible Seminary) was the longest, having served as deans of theology and evangelism respectively, and as acting president in 1966. In 1974, Rev. Teng took part in establishing the Chinese Graduate School of Theology (CGST), becoming the first president. In doing so, he led a team of young scholars filled with vision and enthusiasm to advance higher theological education, and turned a new leaf for ethnic Chinese theological education. Rev. Teng remained president of CGST until 1987 when he handed over leadership to Dr. Wilson Chow. In 1975, C&MA Hong Kong Field decided that control of its Alliance Seminary should be handed over to ethnic Chinese leadership and specifically stated that Rev. Teng should be president. Rev. Teng accepted in an unprecedented move in the history of Chinese churches. It was unprecedented because while he looked after NPAC, he was also president of two full-fledged bible seminaries. It was not until 1980 that Rev. Teng handed over the Alliance Seminary presidency to Dr. James Cheung, whom he zealously invited back to Hong Kong from Canada.

Work abroad

Rev. Teng left for the US in 1987 after retirement and became dean of the Chinese department at Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary, a post which he held until 1997. During his stay in the US, he was elected chairman of the Chinese Churches Association of C&MA in USA, and held the post for 10 years

Returning to Hong Kong in 1997, Rev. Teng taught at the Christian Ministry Institute and at the same time doubled up by request as voluntary pastor for Chinese C&MA Yau Oi Church until 2004.

As an eminent speaker of the 20th century evangelistic church, Rev. Teng had preached at various major conferences, covering six continents and more than 40 countries and territories. He took part in numerous major evangelistic movements such as the Keswick Movements; various student evangelistic movements including the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students and the Urbana Mission Conventions in Chicago; AD 2000 and Beyond Movements; etc. He participated in launching the 1974 Lausanne Movement and was a founding member of the Chinese Coordination Center of World Evangelism where he was chairman of the board of directors for 25 years. Rev. Teng was a distinguished leader of C&MA worldwide and was elected in 1979 as chairman of the Alliance World Fellowship. He has also conducted various Bible study and training conferences on Mainland China.

In 1970, Rev. Teng was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree by Nyack College in the US.

Family

Rev. Teng married Ms Lily Fu in 1953 and was blessed with six sons: William, Samuel, Timothy, Luke, John and Peter, among whom William and Peter are now preachers. The sons brought Rev. Teng seven grandchildren, five boys and two girls. Mrs. Teng took good care of the family and the children and offered essential assistance to Rev. Teng. She succumbed to illness in 1993. In 1997, Rev. Teng married Ms Cheung Kai Yum, who took good care of Rev. Teng's daily living and ministry, bringing him joy in the evening of his life.

Rev. Teng completed his lifetime of service to God with humility, obedience, faithfulness, focus, love, steadfastness, gentleness and a broad mind, glorifying Christ, serving the church and benefiting large numbers of people. Although now departed, his good influence among the ethnic Chinese Christian community remains and he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Heb. 11:4)

About the Author

By Yading Li

Senior Associate, Global China Center; Chinese Editor, Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity.

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