Ting Ping Chong (陈秉忠牧师)

1881 - 1923

Ting Ping Chong (also known as Cheng'an) was a pastor from Xianyou County in the municipal region of Putian, in eastern Fujian province, China. He was born in the village of Chenku (now called Duweidingwu). Ting was renowned for his leadership in the 1912 migration of the Xinghua (also known as Henghua) people to Malaya and is considered a pioneer in the Chinese immigrant community. He founded "Xinghua Ba" on Xinzhushan (New Pearl Mountain), an association designed to help his countrymen who were facing difficulties settling down in their new home overseas.

Ting had a keen interest in the Bible from a young age, which led to his classmates giving him the nickname "Old pastor". After completing his primary education, he attended Zhelizhong School established by the Methodist Church in Putian city. Following his graduation from high school in 1905, he enrolled in Xinghua Theological College for further studies, and he also interned at the church on weekends. During that period, Ting also received ministerial training at Houwu Church, which was founded as Lishan Church in 1892.

After graduating from Xinghua Theological College in 1907, Ting married Xu De'an, a teacher at Xianyi School in Putian. Shortly after his marriage, he was appointed as a preacher in the Hanjiang Parish and Jiangkou Parish in Fujian province, where he served faithfully. In 1910, he was ordained as an assistant pastor by the annual council of Xinghua Methodist Church.

In August 1911, during a meeting in Putian, the head of the Xinghua Methodist Church, Pastor William Nesbitt Brewster, received a letter from Bishop Owen of the Singapore Methodist Church. The letter mentioned that the British colonial government in Sarawak had allowed the Xinghua people to recruit 300 immigrants for land development in the state. As a result, Pastor Brewster, along with Pastor Lee Changshui, visited Sarawak later that same month to inspect the proposed land for the Xinghua settlers. They then signed an agreement with the colonial administrators to finalise the allocation of land for the settlers in Sarawak, which would eventually come to be known as the New Pearl Mountain area. Thus, the Sibu Methodist Mission was born out of the designated area for the Xinghua immigrants.

In 1912, the first group of Xinghua immigrants gathered at the Methodist church in Hanjiang, where Ting was the pastor at the time. He and another leader, Fang Jiaming, were appointed to lead the migration to Sarawak. The journey of the first group of immigrants took them through Xiamen and Singapore before reaching Sarawak. They arrived in Sibu on May 22, 1912, and the settlement they established was called Xinghua Ba.

The following year in 1913, Pastor Ting returned to China due to a bout of sudden illness. After he recovered, Pastor Ting returned to Sarawak, this time bringing his family along with him to Sibu and joining the Xinghua immigrant community he had helped establish. He then continued to serve in his capacity as a pastor in Sibu. Later, he was transferred to Singapore, where he served as the pastor of the Xinghua Methodist Church. He would also help set up the Kwong Han School there.

Due to his deteriorating health, Pastor Ting returned to China for medical treatment in 1921. However, the treatment was unsuccessful and he passed away on July 8, 1923, in Xianyou, Fujian province, at the age of 42. His wife, Xu De'an, continued her missionary work in Kuala Lumpur before retiring, living to the age of 84.

Ting Ping Chong and his wife were survived by their four children: Wenxing, Zhenhui, Zhenming, and Guanghua. His legacy lives on in the history of the Xinghua immigrant community and the Christian churches he helped establish in Sarawak and Singapore. Pastor Ting’s familial ties live on in Chenku Village, China, as well. According to Ting's descendants, some of his nephews and nieces still reside there. In Xianyou County, Putian city, there is a Seventh-Day Adventist Church with a historical memorial hall featuring photographs and information about Ting Ping Chong and his wife.

In 2002, in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Xinghua people's migration to Sarawak, the Sibu Xinghua-Putian Christian Association collaborated with the Sibu City Council to construct the Xinghua Settlement Memorial Square in Sibu, adjacent to the Methodist Hwai Ann Church. The monument at the square features photographs and information about Pastor William Brewster and Pastor Ting Ping Chong. A decade later in 2012, the church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Xinghua Settlement and renovated the church premises. They also established a Centenary History Gallery, Historical Exhibition Hall, and the Joseph Chong Hall. A monument was also erected for the centenary of the settlement at the Xinghua Settlement Memorial Square.

To honour the leaders of the Xinghua community in Sibu, the association also placed a portrait and information about Pastor Ting Ping Chong at the Sibu Heritage Centre, making him one of the better-known leaders among the various ethnic groups in Sibu.


Wong Meng Lie

This article from the book The Malaysia Henghua Personalities (Kuala Lumpur: The Federation of Heng Ann Malaysia, 2019) was translated from Chinese by Brendan Yeo. It is reproduced with permission, with editing for clarity and brevity.



Ke Jin De and Lim De Xun, The Malaysian Henghua Personalities (Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian Xing An Association Publications 2019)