Elder Lee Chin Hock was born in Serom, Muar, Malaya on November 20, 1925 in a family of 12. His ancestral home was in Yong Chun County, Fujian Province, China.
When he was young, two fires destroyed his family’s sundry shop and family home, leaving them in poverty. After completing his primary school, he went to work at his eldest brother-in-law’s shop in his early teens and became the family's breadwinner. At the end of each year, he would send all his savings home. During the Japanese Occupation, his mother became very ill but they had no money to seek medical treatment.
In 1944, at the age of 19, in obedience to his parents, he married Tan Geok Moi and they had two sons and four daughters.
In 1952, he and a few friends set up the Boon Hai Bookstore in Batu Pahat, Johore which became profitable only in the fourth year. At the beginning of the 10th year, his younger siblings finished secondary school and decided not to continue with their education but to venture into business. Lee was faced with a dilemma. Arranging for his siblings to work at the Batu Pahat bookstore would affect the interests of his other shareholders. The shareholders proposed to lay off their employees and hire his younger siblings. But Lee rejected the offer because it would be unfair and against his faith. He finally decided to start another business and soon set up a bookshop on the busiest street in Malacca, Jalan Bunga Raya, under the name of "Boon Hong Bookstore".
In 1971, Malacca was hit by a major flood after it rained heavily for three consecutive days. Lee’s home was a double-storey shophouse, with his residence upstairs and the warehouse downstairs. On that day, he was returning home from his bookstore when he suddenly saw a torrent of water rushing down the ditch. He foresaw that there would be a flood so he immediately made a phone call to his employees to come and move the goods upstairs. Some people, seeing them hurriedly moving the goods, ridiculed him for being crazy while others reassured him that there was no need to worry. But he kept trusting God and instructed his employees to continue moving. At 10 o'clock that night, as the last few boxes were being moved upstairs, the wooden shelves downstairs were flooded with water. Other shops suffered heavy losses but his shop suffered little damage.
His faith was tested again on another occasion. Every Christmas, a group of British soldiers stationed at the military camp in Malacca would buy gifts to send home and these goods were often in short supply. He was advised by one of his female employees to go to Singapore to purchase the goods but he struggled as he knew he should not do business on a Sunday. Unable to resist the temptation of money, he caved in. The first trip went well but the second time, he met with a car accident. From then on, he never went to Singapore on Sundays to buy goods.
When Lee first became a Christian, his faith was weak but it gradually deepened from 1948 when he became a member of the Saving Grace Presbyterian Church in Batu Pahat. In 1962, he moved to Malacca and served in the Methodist church and committed himself fully to God. At that time, there were very few people serving in the church and one day, he was challenged by a preacher to not count the cost but commit himself to various ministries. He then served wholeheartedly in the visitation ministry, helping with funerals or driving the gospel vehicle. He was available whenever the church needed him and time permitted. Later, he was elected as a leader of the congregation.
In 1968, Elder Lee accepted an invitation from the Southern Presbyterian General Assembly to plant a church. This task was a big challenge for him. The new church, Malacca Presbyterian Church, did not have a full-time preacher. He volunteered to stay back in church to help with the cleaning and even stayed in the church. At that time, his son, Lee Ee Bank, was still a teenager but his father's example of selfless service was deeply engraved on his heart. Later, although Elder Lee was sometimes busy at the bookstore, he still drove pastor Teo Chian Seng, the first pastor of the church, to do visitation, raise funds, and even cast out demons.
Pastor Teo was a good mentor to Elder Lee who told his son Ee Bank that the pastor was a man of faith who knelt in the chapel every morning for two to three hours in prayer. A simple man who loved the Lord and was willing to endure hardship, Pastor Teo would go around on his bicycle to visit and preach the gospel because that was the only vehicle that the church could afford to provide him.
Elder Lee also learned about faith from Pastor Teo. When the church decided to purchase its first building in Jalan Panjang, it did not have any money but Pastor Teo encouraged Elder Lee to go ahead with the plan. When Elder Lee hesitated, Pastor Teo said, "Since God wants to give us a property, let us walk by faith, and God will provide.”
Tan Kee Chong, an elder of the Malacca Presbyterian Church, described Elder Lee as a man who lived a simple life but quietly donated money to many co-workers, seminaries and evangelical organisations such as the Agape Counselling Centre, Malaysia Campus Crusade for Christ and Bridge Communications. According to Elder Lee’s son Ee Bank who later became an elder too, his father had a remarkable gift of management. His many years of management experience in business made him very organised in carrying out administration in the church, especially when it first started and there was a lack of workers.
Rev Lim Lye Seng, former senior pastor of the Malacca Presbyterian Church, said what impressed him most about Elder Lee was when a brother, Tan Seng Hoe, who was suffering from cancer and whom they had visited several times in 1986, passed away. His body had become stiff in a kneeling position and with his hands folded. At that time, they did not know how to put the rigid body into the coffin but Elder Lee remained calm, prayed over the body and massaged it, and the body soon softened.
Elder Lee was not only strict with his children in the foundations of their faith but also left them a good example in dealing with others. Elder Lee Ee Bank said when he was a child in Batu Pahat, his father insisted that he attend Sunday school and he would have to walk several kilometres to the Saving Grace Church. At that time, he often complained about the hardship but when he grew up, he understood his father's heart: to build a strong biblical foundation to pass on to the next generation.
Elder Lee taught his children to be faithful servants and to be careful and prudent in all aspects of life to glorify God (Luke 16:10). For example, he always checked the accounts of the store and if he found a mistake, he would find the source and correct it immediately. He also arranged the goods in an orderly manner, and even aligned the trademarks. The prudent values that Elder Lee Ee Bank learned from his father later enabled him to be appointed to many financial positions.
Elder Lee also taught his children, “You have to see your own responsibility in the needs of others, and try to help as much as you can, as if you were doing it for Jesus. " Be strict with yourself but be tolerant of others." This helped Elder Lee Ee Bank in carrying out his pastoral care duties after he was chosen as an elder.
Elder Lee Ee Bank said his father used to place a biography of John Sung on his desk, which showed Dr Sung's influence on his ministry.
In 1998, the Presbyterian General Assembly established a church in Sandakan, Sabah. It later faced closure due to the lack of pastors and an irregular number of members. Elder Tan Kee Chong said Elder Lee prompted him that "if God had established the church, God must have His purpose. Of course, there will be difficulties in establishing a church, but with the help of God, it cannot be closed! By relying on the Lord these difficulties will be overcome." After this encouragement from Elder Lee, Elder Tan brought this proposal to the council which then resolved to take over the Sandakan Presbyterian Church. It has now been 22 years since this church was founded.
Elder Tan described Elder Lee as a kind spiritual elder who was willing to listen to others and cared for their needs. Elder Lee also prayed for him often and encouraged him when he was down. Whenever he faced difficulties, he always remembered Elder Lee's words, "God does not see if you can, God sees if you will. God is not looking for your ability, He is looking for your availability.” This has deeply influenced his ministry until today.
Elder Lee had a special burden for theological education and had a good relationship with the Malaysia Bible Seminary (MBS) for many years. He often urged his son to support MBS. In 2018, when the seminary celebrated its 40th anniversary, Elder Lee Ee Bank proposed to the Malacca Presbyterian Church to hold a thanksgiving dinner for the seminary, and raised RM500,000 for it. At the age of 70, Elder Lee established the "Kheng Neo" Theological Fund because he remembered the difficulties the Malacca Presbyterian Church experienced when it was first established, with few workers and pastors.
Elder Lee Ee Bank said that even when his father was 90 years old and had difficulty walking, he still insisted on attending prayer meetings in church because of his spiritual habit formed over the years. In fact, he had to be hospitalised several times due to weak health. He exhorted Elder Lee Ee Bank to serve God with passion and to love God and people with all his heart. Elder Lee Ee Bank said that his father held and lived out one conviction throughout his life — to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength (Mark 12:30).
Elder Lee Chin Hock rested in the Lord on July 25, 2019, aged 94.
- ^ Lee Chin Hock, "The Lord's Grace Overflows the Road of Life" (Kuala Lumpur: Bridge Communication Sdn Bhd, 2004), 24. His children by birth order from the eldest to the youngest are: Lee Ee Kon (daughter); Lee Ee Bank (son); Lee Siew Bin (daughterLee Chin Hock, "The Lord's Grace Overflows the Road of Life" (Kuala Lumpur: Bridge Communication Sdn Bhd, 2004), 24. His children by birth order from the eldest to the youngest are: Lee Ee Kon (
Lee Chin Hock. A Blessed Life. Kuala Lumpur: The Bridge Communication Sdn Bhd, 2004.