The Rev Paul S. H. Hang Sr. Born to ‘deng -do’

Dr Tong Hoo Ing contributes to Methodist Message as a volunteer writer. A retired neurologist, he worships at Wesley Methodist Church, and volunteers with medical mission teams to Third World countries.

Paul Hang Hoh-Gi was born in Sien Yu City, Fukien, China, on 3 May 1901, to a Methodist family. His mother served as a “Bible-reader” – she visited the homes of people who had little or no education, to read the Bible to them in the Hinghwa dialect. As a young boy, Hoh-Gi accompanied his mother on her daily Bible-reading rounds. He was self-taught in his primary school years before he entered the Guthrie Memorial High School at the age of nine.

When he was asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, the young Hoh-Gi answered, “Deng-do, yes, deng-do” which means “preach the Gospel” in the Hinghwa dialect. The phrase “deng-do” reverberated throughout his life, as he faithfully obeyed the exhortation of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19 to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” (KJV)

In his book My Christian Testimony, he described how he went up a hill one day to pray for guidance on his future work: “If it is thy will that I should become a minister, I pray thee to reveal thy will through the words of Scripture.” On opening his eyes, he turned the pages of his Bible and stopped at Acts Chapter 9, about the conversion of the apostle Paul. He was filled with joy and decided to change his name from Hang Hoh-Gi to Hang Sing-Ho (Paul).

Soon after Paul Hang graduated from the Nanking Theological Seminary in 1927 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology, his godfather, Dr George Hollister, received a letter from the Hinghwa Church in Singapore requesting a pastor to serve the church after several short-term pastors had departed due to sickness or old age.

Dr Hollister sent the Rev Paul Hang, who began his life-long journey of ministry in answer to God’s calling “to preach the Gospel” and to become the longest-serving pastor of Hinghwa Methodist Church in Singapore – serving for 36 years until his retirement.

For 15 years, the church met in a shophouse at 27 Sam Leong Road near Kitchener Road (it is now housed at 93 Kitchener Road). During those 15-odd years, the early church made remarkable history with many Gospel outreach programmes, evangelism and revival, including rallies when the well-known evangelist Dr John Sung Song-Che came to Singapore from mainland China in the late 1930s.

The Rev Hang also contributed to the spread of the gospel in Singapore and the region in many other ways, such as:

➢ Helping to develop the Southern Bell, the Chinese equivalent of Methodist Message, as the leading Chinese Christian magazine for all the Chinese churches in Singapore and Malaysia. The Rev Hang was on the Board of Editors, together with the Chief Editor, the Rev Andrew K. T. Chen.
➢ Playing an important role in the training of pastors at the annual Chinese Pastors’ Institute for the work of the churches in Singapore, Malaysia and Borneo.
➢ Being elected as the first Asian ministerial delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Church held in Boston, USA, in 1948.
➢ Serving as Secretary of the Chinese Christian and Education Board for 11 years from 1937 to 1948.
➢ Serving as Editor of the Annual Conference minutes of the Malaysian Chinese Annual Conference (1938-1953), and also as Secretary of the Conference.
➢ Serving as Chairman of the Singapore Chinese Christian Church Unit from 1947 to 1957.

On account of his ill health, the Rev Hang retired in 1963, but during those years of retirement, he served as Conference evangelist and preacher in many of the Methodist churches in Malaysia, Singapore and Sarawak.

He later underwent surgery for cancer of the bladder but succumbed to it in 1972. Dr Paul Means, in his preface to Paul Hang’s book My Christian Testimony, reflected on the Rev Hang’s rich preceding 70 years and wrote that he should hear in his heart the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Indeed, he had lived out his determination to “deng-do, yes, deng-do”.

Photo courtesy of the Rev Paul K. H. Hang Jr., from his book Blessings by the Dozen