My Systematic Theology Professor – Rev Dr Choong Chee Pang – went to be with the Lord on 4 June 2021. He was a scholar par excellence and also a very down-to-earth person who loved the simple things in life. At his vigil service, Bishop John Chew shared from the text that the family of the late Dr Choong had placed in his obituary – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7). Bishop Chew mentioned the three points in this text as an apt summary of the life of the late Choong Chee Pang. At the time when Christianity was questioned, debated and challenged among scholars, Dr Choong fought tenaciously for the Christian truths, in keeping true to his Hakka heritage as fighters, and as a Lutheran with the Germanic Reformation blood that flowed through his veins – he fought the good fight!!
He also mentioned how hard and wide and deep Dr Choong had run the race – as theologian, philosopher, teacher, principal, poet, artist, friend, pastor and so much more. He could not keep pace with this man as he outran him and many of their contemporaries. His gifts were diverse and he accomplished many great things in the course of his life (article in Salt & Light, From Nantah to Beida, and on to eternal glory by Lin Po Chien, June 15). Yet he was also a loving husband to his beloved wife and a devoted father to his 2 children and 5 grandchildren.
Bishop Chew went on to conclude with the third and final point from the text – he had kept the faith. It is one thing to start well but it is everything to start well, run well and finish well. This Dr Choong did valiantly amidst the sufferings he incurred from cancer in the last 10 years of his earthly life. He continued to preach, teach, travel and write books, and enjoyed the good things in life such as good Hakka food!
In the light of his understanding of the cancer that invaded his body, he must have had many long discourses with God about reasons for this infliction. Yet he soldiered on and kept the faith – the faith of his fathers and his own personal faith in Christ!
I was deeply moved as I read and listened to stories of Dr Choong’s accomplishments, tenacity for the truth and perseverance amidst physical suffering.
I pray that each one of us will fight the good fight of faith, run and complete the race, even as we fix our eyes on Jesus, keeping the faith, through the joys, trials, disappointments, challenges and uncertainties that we will encounter in life. And like the apostle Paul we too can say but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and that I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:12)