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Pioneer Church Leader Leaves Mark on World Missions

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Dr. Philip Teng, who cofounded the Lausanne Movement, died December 19, 2013, at a Hong Kong hospital. He was 92.

As a pastor, scholar, teacher, speaker and author, Teng is best known for his humility, gentleness and passion for missions.

A distinguished leader of the worldwide C&MA, Teng served as president of The Alliance World Fellowship and chairman of the U.S. C&MA Chinese Churches Association. He also was a founding member of the Chinese Coordination Centre of World Evangelism, where he was board chairman for 25 years.

Teng “loved Jesus supremely and was consumed with an intense passion to reach a lost world,” said Rev. Anthony Bollback, a former Alliance international worker in Hong Kong. “Without a doubt, he greatly enriched the Chinese church while [challenging] other national churches to rise up to do exploits through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Teng became a mega-church leader in Hong Kong after a visa error allowed him to remain there while en route to his home in Qingdao, Shandong Province, in 1950. During his 30-year tenure as senior pastor of North Point Alliance Church, the congregation grew from 50 to more than 1,400 members. Under his leadership as president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church Union, The Alliance became one of the largest denominations in Hong Kong.

Teng promoted missions in Hong Kong and throughout Asia. He chaired the Hong Kong Association of Christian Missions and was founding chair of Asia Missions Association. Teng’s heart for evangelism was especially evident when he and his wife devoted a year to missions work in Indonesia, where the couple planted 10 indigenous congregations.

Rev. John Bechtel, a former C&MA international worker who ministered with Teng in Hong Kong, remembers him as “a humble spiritual giant” with a wonderful sense of humor. “He giggled and often tossed his head back in laughter,” said Bechtel, a close friend of Teng’s.

A pioneer leader in theological education, Teng served as president of two seminaries while pastoring North Point. According to Rev. Abraham Poon, president of the C&MA Chinese Churches Association, Teng established a foundation for missions, funding both theological education and Chinese missions endeavors. “We thank God for His gift to the church,” said Poon.

When Dr. Billy Graham was invited to visit the People’s Republic of China in 1988, Teng was the unanimous choice to interpret the evangelist’s sermons. In a tribute to Teng that was published in Christianity Today in February 2014, Graham wrote, “I have known Dr. Teng for many years, and he was not only an effective and diligent interpreter, but his godly spirit and his deep dedication to the cause of Christ in China impressed all who met him.”

After more than 60 years of ministry in Hong Kong, Teng departed for the United States, where he was founding director of the North American Chinese Bicultural and Pastoral Ministry Program at the Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, N.Y. Returning to Hong Kong in 1997, Teng taught at the Christian Ministry Institute while pastoring the Chinese C&MA Yau Oi Church until 2004.

Proficient in Chinese and English, Teng wrote hundreds of articles and more than 20 books. He was the first editor-in-chief of the Chinese edition of Decision Magazine and a script writer for Far East Broadcasting Company, where he also assisted in recording Christian programming in China and other Southeast Asian countries. A gifted musician, Teng translated hundreds of hymns into Chinese.

“Dr. Teng was one of the greatest men I have ever met,” said Bechtel. “His vision for the advance of the gospel in Hong Kong and throughout Asia was inspired by God, and the results are astounding. The Church worldwide will miss Dr. Teng and his articulate, effective leadership and ministry.”

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