John Tong co-founded the Chinese Christian Reformed Church in Monterey Park, Calif., and served there for 25 years. He especially loved and cared for the lonely, the forsaken, the widowed, the children, the weak, and the outcast. Tong died June 20.
Born Tsung Chu Tong in Xiamen, China, the third of seven sons, Tong was an infant when he was sent away to distant relatives after his mother believed the superstition of a palm reader. In his youth, Tong chased out a missionary who had visited his home to share the gospel. In tears, she said, "I will pray for you,” leaving a lasting impression on him. Tong reunited with his immediate family in adulthood. His mother, meanwhile, had come to know the Lord.
In 1956, Tong left China for Hong Kong where he worked part time while pursuing a math degree. Lonely and empty, he accepted Jesus as his Savior at an evangelism event and joined Ling Liang Church, where he served as choir director. While studying at Alliance Bible Seminary he developed a passion for hymns—translating them into Chinese and also writing over 200 hymns and poems. It was here that then-ABS president William C. Newbern gave him the name "John," which he took to be his own from then on.
After pastoring in Macau, Tong moved to Taiwan, joining his brother, Rev. Peter Tong, to serve in Christian radio broadcasting. “When our father came to learn of Reformed theology through Uncle Peter,” explained his daughter, “he was convicted in its tenets—the five Solas.” He attended Calvin Theological Seminary, then pastored Hong Kong’s Ling Liang Church before moving in 1976 to Los Angeles, Calif. In 1977, after ordination in the CRC, he co-founded the Monterey Park Chinese CRC, serving there until retirement in 1991.
Tong is survived by his beloved wife, Becky, and two daughters, Sophie and Alice.