Peter Tong’s ministry was conducted with vigor, determination, compassion, vision, and understanding. His area of ministry was as wide as the Asian continent. Tong spoke four Chinese dialects in addition to Indonesian and English and readily shared the good news of the gospel with those he met. He died of a heart attack in Fontana, Calif., at age 81.
Tong Chung Ping—his Chinese name—was born in Xiamen, China. He attended Yung Ywan elementary school and earned his high school diploma at Anglo-Chinese College. As a child he attended Sunday school with friends and became a believer.
After the death of his father when Tong was 12, his mother and several siblings moved to Indonesia. In Surabaya they served faithfully in the Chinese Christian Church. For seven years he helped his mother provide for his younger brothers and a sister. Eventually his mother, Tjen Nio, also gave her life to Christ. She became a woman of remarkable spiritual stature; five of her sons became well-known pastors and gospel champions.
In 1957, through the help of Christian Reformed missionary Nellie De Waard, Tong went to the U.S. to study at Reformed Bible Institute (now Kuyper College) in Grand Rapids, Mich. He subsequently studied at Calvin College and Seminary, graduating in 1964. The California Graduate School of Theology granted him a Ph. D. degree in 1991.
Tong served Hyde Park CRC in Chicago, Ill. He learned to hone his messages to fit a radio format from Rev. Peter Eldersveld at the Back to God Hour (now Back to God Ministries International). He also translated sermons and gospel literature into Chinese.
In 1966, Christian Reformed World Missions sent Tong and his wife, Freda, to Taiwan, where they did church planting. Tong continued his radio work and began writing books in Chinese—18 in all. These books continue to be of help to Chinese pastors and local Christians. After a long, productive ministry in Taiwan, Tong served as president of China Reformed Theological Seminary in Taipei. He retired in 1998 but remained active in the ministry of the Chinese CRC of Monterey Park, Calif., until very recently.
Tong was in many respects a most remarkable man. With seemingly inexhaustible energy he preached the gospel and did a huge amount of pastoral and educational work. He was also a matchmaker, convinced that the unity of faith in a family benefits God’s kingdom. His extensive traveling was aimed at encouraging pastors and students far and near.
Tong is survived by his wife, Freda, and their children Peter Wendell Tong, Joanne Tong Armour and David J. Armour, Linda Tong Feldman and Matthew W. Feldman, and six grandsons.