Biography 趙炳江牧師生平

Dad Christmas 2012

Rev. Benjamin Peng Kong (Bing Kong) Chiu was born in Jiangmen, China in 1928. When he was three years old, his mother died. The following year, his father left to work in Australia (the New Golden Mountain) and never returned to China again. In the early days, the father did send money home to support the family of four children, two boys and two girls; Rev. Chiu was the youngest. Their father passed away sometime between 1942-45, during the Second World War, and whatever earthly possession he might have acquired had vanished. Thus, from early childhood, Rev. Chiu was without parental support and guidance, with very little financial resources. He became self-reliant, learned to take care of himself, and was quite a stubborn young man, naughty and tough, but curious and always eager to learn from everyone and from his environment. He farmed and attended traditional Chinese school and laid for himself a solid foundation for learning Chinese classics and poems. He toughened himself through physical work. When the Japanese air-raided Jiangmen in the early 1940s, Rev. Chiu was a teenager and his older brother had already migrated to Singapore to make a living. Led by his sister-in-law and his sisters, they smuggled themselves in a boat under night cover to Macau for safe haven. Rev. Chiu continued his schooling in Macau and learned the ways of city life. From Macau, he moved to Singapore and then to Malaya to make a living. His exposure to the Christian faith was from an early age at Jiangmen where western missionaries went to spread the gospel.

As an inquisitive young man, he asked and thought about the Christian faith, but he did not embrace it. When he was in Malaya, he became more involved in church activities, but he was still not baptized. His early conviction was that as a Christian, you are to go into the world to preach the gospel and he was not ready to make that commitment. He was a radical Christian. He wanted to practice what he believed. After working a few years in a bank in Kuala Lumpur, Rev. Chiu moved to Singapore to search for new opportunity. He began to work as a schoolteacher. While he was teaching, a Christian friend approached him about studying theology. He liked the idea and enrolled in the Trinity Theological College in 1954. A couple of years before that, he was baptized in Wesley Church, Singapore. It was at Trinity College where he met his life partner, Tin Yuk Pik. They married in 1959 and brought into the world four sons and four daughters. Rev. Chiu looked upon his family as a miracle and often said they are a living witness of the wonderful grace and providence of God. Those of us touched by their children can readily say, Amen. After he graduated from Trinity College in 1957, Rev. Chiu began an active Christian ministry that spanned 35 years of time. He was ordained an elder of the Methodist Church in Malaya in 1963 and he retired from the New York Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1993. He had served in Singapore (twice), Kampar, Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Sacramento, and New York City. His footprints could be found across the Malay Peninsula and North America. He was well known in the circles of Chinese clergy in Singapore and Malaysia, in California and New York City.

The trademark of Rev. Chiu’s ministry is his pastoral visitation. While he excelled in organization and was able to hold his own against any adversary in the Chinese Methodist Church, he considered visiting church members as the hallmark of his ministry. He deprecates this unique gift by saying he enjoyed spending time drinking tea (what he called “touching the bottom of a tea cup,”) and breaking peanuts with friends. That’s why he visited church members. In fact, he was putting into practice the essence of pastoral care. His unspoken mantra was “Contact, contact, contact.” He learned early that isolation leads to misunderstanding, and he wanted to sit down even with those who shun him. He told me of an incident when a church member would deliberately not offer him a cup of tea while extending that courtesy to Mrs. Chiu in their visitation to that family. You can imagine the awkward situation. However, he continued to cultivate friendship with that member. It could truly be said, he knew his sheep and his sheep knew him. He was a good shepherd, a good pastor. In his visitation, he was not a one-dimension man. He brought to the encounter his varied interests in classical Chinese, music, medicine, health and fitness, and photography. He was the quintessential Renaissance man. While the conversations tended to move in all directions, Rev. Chiu was always able to close each visit with a Christ message, often with a timely scriptural text.

Next to pastoral care, Rev. Chiu is an untiring teacher. He loves to teach, to share what he knows. One of his favorite expressions is “Having a hundred skills is good for your well-being.” When you are in his company, you would soon realize his broad range of interest, from lofty to earthy subjects. Being trained in classical Chinese, he loves to put extended discourses in two or three words or some short phrases. According to him, being diligent and frugal are the keys to a successful life. Being willing to suffer is essential for all pastors. The Chinese version of each of the names of his children is a succinct teaching!

While he was fond of saying “All things work together for the benefits of those who love God,” he told me his favorite scriptural passage is John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” He considered this text as the epitome of the Christian faith. It was this faith that directed his life and made him an extraordinary man. He summed up his faith with a passage from the Book of Habakkuk, 3: 17-19: “Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.” “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord” is the message he wants his children and all of us to remember. We praise God for the life and ministry of Rev. Chiu Peng Kong.

Written by Dr. Samuel Wong (2015-01-09). Published in “Intimate Witnesses: Coping with Challenges” (Kindle Locations 2636-2646). Xlibris US. Kindle Edition.

黃炳源 撰

趙炳江牧師,廣東江門人,生于公元 1928 年。幼年三歲喪母,四歲父離鄉赴澳大利亞謀生,一去不返。初期尚有匯款回家,贍養四個兒女。第二次世界大戰中, 音信全失,在異鄉過世, 海外所積蓄的財產也石沈大海,無絲毫痕跡。趙牧從幼年就沒有父母的照顧,也沒有甚麼家產。他與兄姐一家四口,相依為命。從小就學會自強自立,不依賴別人。從小就養成獨立的性格,頑皮又不聽話,常常與傳統作對,給兄姐不少麻煩。可是他滿有好奇心,樂於吸收新知識,抱著“三人行必有我師”的態度,無所不學,無學不精。他在鄉下學耕田種菜養家禽, 藉著粗工鍛鍊身體。業餘還去私塾讀書,把四書五經背得滾瓜爛熟,為自己打下了濃厚的中文基礎。與他交談,常常聽到他引經據典,是一位胸藏萬卷,大智若愚的賢士。

在1940 年初期、日本攻打江門,趙牧正好達入春秋鼎盛之期,他的兄長已經去南洋謀生。他跟著大嫂與姊姊,舉家在夜色的遮隱下偷渡去澳門逃難。在澳門他繼續求學,開始過城市的生活。幾年后,他從澳      門去星加坡、馬來亞,開拓自己發展的機會。

趙牧在江門很早就接觸到基督教的信仰,他看見西方傳教士的熱忱,心中不禁發出好奇,要探討他們的潛力,查根問底,要明白基督教信仰的精髓,可是他不是聽了就信,而是把福音藏在心理,晝夜思想。他在馬來亞的時期,已經很熱心地參加教會的活動,但是他還沒有受洗。他個人對信耶穌的看法,非常激進,覺得信就得傳:信耶穌與傳福音是不可分開的一回事。他覺得自己還沒有去普天下傳福音的決心,所以他逗留在信耶穌圈子的邊緣,遲疑不決。他是一個言行一致的基督徒,他要以生命活踐他的信仰。

在吉隆坡的一間銀行工作幾年后,趙牧又搬去新加坡找新機會發展。他轉行做老師,教導兒童。教書不久,有一位朋友鼓勵他去讀神學。他覺得讀神學也是求知的門徑,有益無害,所以就去三一神學院報名,并沒有做傳道的心意。不過兩三年前他已經在新加坡的衛斯理教堂受洗,成為衛理公會的會友了。在三一神學院他認識了陳玉碧女士,兩人情投意合,締結良緣,在1959 年結婚。婚後生了 8 個兒女,4 男 4 女,如今都在美國成家立業,或懸壺濟世,或搞科技,或管企業,各有所長。幼兒秉承父志,棄商從牧,在德州的一間教會裡侍奉。趙牧夫婦兒孫滿堂,福杯滿溢。趙牧常常說,他一家的成就是神奇妙恩典的神蹟,神無微不至的大愛顯露在他們身上。認識趙牧兒女的都會同意他的說法,同頌主恩。

1957 年趙牧畢業三一神學院,開始他35 年的傳道牧會生涯。他在 1963 年受衛理公會馬來西亞華人年議會按立為長牧,1993 年從美國聯合衛理公會紐約年議會榮譽退休。他來美國是以“轉會”的身份從星馬的年議會轉到美國的年議會。他服役過的城市包括新加坡,馬來西亞的金寶、吉隆坡、關丹,美國加州的二埠,和紐約的唐人街。他踏遍馬來半島與北美;在星馬,加州與紐約市的華人教牧圈子裡是位知名的牧者。

趙牧一生牧業的標記,就是去會友家作訪問,局內人所說的“巡家”。趙牧有天才,肯學習,肯吃苦,講義氣。善用人,得人心,辦事精靈,臨危不亂。所以他雖然沒有後台,卻能穩紮穩打,以不變應萬變。在所有的成就中,他以訪問教友為他牧會的高峰。他自嘲說他愛訪問教友是因為他喜歡“摸杯底”(喝茶),擘花生。其實他把牧養教會的精髓都放在這一項似乎平凡、卻不平凡的事中了。牧養教會就是要與教友多多聯絡。聯絡就要多多訪問,“接觸,接觸,接觸”是趙牧牧會的座右銘。

趙牧很早就明白隔離引成誤會,誤會就叫小事變成大事的一個人際來往的真理。所以他不厭其煩,總找機會跟會友面談,甚至拒絕他的會友,他也照常地培養關係。有一次他和師母一起去看一位會友領袖,那位會友領袖對趙牧有成見,不見他。佣人上茶敬客的時候,主人故意吩咐下人不上茶給趙牧,只給師母,叫牧師啼笑皆非,甚為尷尬。可是趙牧一直都繼續跟那位教會領袖栽培關係,直到他解除誤會,以後還變成牧師的好朋友。認識趙牧的都說,“他認識他的羊,他的羊也認識他”。他是一個好牧人,一位好牧師。

趙牧不但是一位好牧師,他也是以一位好教師。做一個好教師必需好學不倦,趙牧就是這樣的人。他好學善導,苦口婆心,到處教導後輩,更常常與同工分享心得。他常常說,“百技好傍身”,抱著活到老、學到老的態度。2011 年我探他的時候,他還教我下象棋。我每行一步之前,他就給我分析利害。他棋藝有何高深,是我這門外漢不能測度的。假如你有機會跟他談話,你會發現到他文武全才,自成一家。因為他有優秀的國學基礎,所以他可以把許多長篇大論用兩三個字或用一句短句總結。他覺得勤儉是成功的鑰匙,肯吃苦是每個牧師的必修科。他 8 個兒女的中文名都是做人的箴言。

趙牧雖然常常引用羅馬書 8 章 28 節說,“上帝使萬事互相效力,叫愛上帝的人得益處”,但是他最著重的經文卻是約翰福音3 章 16 節:“上帝那麼愛世人,甚至賜下他的獨子,要使所有信他的人不致滅亡,反得永恆的生命。”他認為這一節是基督教信仰的梗概,整本聖經的總剛。趙牧憑著這個信念做事做人,白手成家,從平凡的出生,活出不平凡的見證。當我問他怎樣為自己總結一生的經歷,他引用哈巴谷書 3 章 17-19 節說:“即使無花果樹不結果子,葡萄樹也沒有葡萄;即使橄欖樹不結橄欖,田地不產五穀;即使羊群死光,牛棚裡沒有牛;我仍然要因上主歡喜,因上帝-我的救主快樂。至高的上主賜給我力量。他使我像母鹿一樣腳步穩健;他使我在高山上安穩行走。”無論環境如何,“ 我仍然要因上主歡喜快樂”- 這是趙牧要我們和他的子孫牢記的信息。

我們為趙炳江牧師的一生侍奉與見證感謝讚美上帝!