Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) held an inaugural ceremony for The Stephen Tong Chair of Reformed Theology on September 12, 2011. The first occupant is Chinese-American Rev. Dr. Jeffry K. Jue, associate professor of church history at WTS.
WTS President Dr. Peter Lillback introduced Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong with praises for his contributions in the field of theological education. Through translating texts on the reformed doctrine into his culture, Tong formed the reformed gospel movement, which sphere of influence spans not just in Indonesia but also throughout the Pacific region. He and the reformed believers and disciples have been setting up churches around the world.
Tong addressed the attendants saying that initially he was not a Christian, the theology that he learned and the theological seminary where he studied at was not reformed, but how did he become reformed? Every reformed person is “predestined to be reformed”, he said.
The 71 year old evangelist and theologian said that he would cry whenever he sees churches without the reformed doctrine. Tong shared that when he first began speaking about the reformed doctrine, many people became his opponents, telling him “don’t you think that there are enough churches in Jakarta?” and “I respected you for 25 years, but today I no longer respect you, because you want to build your own kingdom, your own church to oppose all the other churches.” However, he said that in his heart he objected and said that it is because he wants to build the foundation that the apostles from the early churches have passed down to them; he wants to wholeheartedly invite all the churches to return to the entire book of the Bible.
Now, there are 1.2 million people in 107 cities in Indonesia who are studying the reformed theology, he said. And he is grateful to the almighty God to open up such kind of work.
“Can a theologian preach the gospel with fire-like ability? Is it possible for an evangelist to not deeply meditate on God’s word?” asked Tong. In the last 54 years of ministry, the Chinese-Indonesian evangelist has practiced a balanced gospel evangelism and theology education, and has traveled tirelessly to around the world, preaching the message that “God loves the world” – leading many to believe in Jesus Christ.
Tong expressed that his urgent desire is to see young people rise up, be equipped with theology, evangelize, and be passionate for the gospel.
Born in Fujian, China, Tong and his mother immigrated to Indonesia. Yet, he has never forgotten his Chinese identity, which is reflected from his sense of deep burden for China.
“The country that does not allow evangelism is my country – China. Even though I am in Indonesia, I always still remember that my body flows that of the Chinese blood; I am very painful, because my children cannot speak Chinese fluently.” He shared during the inauguration ceremony.
Tong expressed his eager expectation for the youth in China to stand up. From the audiences that listen to Tong’s messages through the internet, VCD, DVD, and tapes, the greatest percentage are those from China.
[Editor's note: reporter Titus Li contributed to this report.]