Ministry Update. In Memoriam: Rev. Paul F. Tseng

I’ve lived long enough to know that there will be seasons of stress. Since early summer, the stress related to my dad’s rapid health decline has occupied much of my spiritual, emotional, and physical space. My book project has slowed considerably. I have not had opportunity to remind my financial partners to renew their gifts, so I now face what I hope is a temporary budget deficit. On the other hand, there have been a lot of surprisingly good news in the GFM Pacific Area. I’ll share about these in a couple of weeks.

But for this update, I’d like to invite you to pray for me and my family as we grieve the passing of my father.

My dad passed away on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. He died while doing what he loved, namely, spending time with his grandson while visiting my step-sister in the Bay Area. The last time I spoke with him was after I preached at a church in Sacramento last August. I also preached the Sunday he died. Ministry is one of the few areas my dad and I clearly overlapped. Though he was more interested in the church in China than I was, he always expressed concern about me – especially after I was pushed out of the ministry of theological education and academia. Perhaps he felt a bit guilty about the pain that my family and I endured afterwards. But I’ve reassured him repeatedly that everything has worked out for good. Though I will miss him greatly, I’m grateful that his life was a testimony to the goodness of God in the midst of adversity and suffering.

Visiting Tim’s dad in July 2021

In Memoriam
Rev. Paul Fan Ping Tseng 曾凡平牧師 (1928-2021)

My photo tribute to my dad can be viewed at this link.

The Rev. Paul Fan Ping Tseng (曾凡平牧師) died on September 26, 2021, from natural causes while visiting family in Milpitas, California. He was 93 years old. Part of the pioneering generation of immigrant Chinese church planting pastors, Rev. Tseng founded the Brooklyn Chinese Community Church in 1970 and helped plant Touch Community Christian Church in Queens and the Suffolk Christian Church in Long Island. In retirement, Rev. Tseng continued to preach and teach the Christian gospel to an ever-growing Chinese audience. His books and online broadcasts touched thousands. Beloved for his spiritual leadership and vision, he nevertheless attributed his blessed and hope-filled life to God and his fellow Christian colleagues.

Paul Fan Ping Tseng was born to an influential and educated family in Wuchuan in China’s Guizhou Province on February 15, 1928, lunar calendar 公元一九二八年  農曆閏二月十五日. As a youth, he opposed the foreign influence of Christianity. He enjoyed telling the story of when he led a group of young people to throw rocks at the stained-glass windows of a local Catholic church. He married Mao Xiang Shen (申茂香) in 1944, who passed away in 1961. In 1948, their only surviving child, Rong Zeng (曾容), was born. They also had two sons who died young.

Paul Fan Ping served as an engineer in the Nationalist Chinese Air Force during the Chinese Civil War. In the wake of the People’s Republic’s takeover of the Chinese mainland, he relocated to Taiwan in 1949 instead of returning to Guizhou. While that decision meant that he would not see his family for many years, it also led to his conversion to the Christian faith. In Taiwan in the 1950s, Paul converted to Roman Catholicism during his recovery from tuberculosis. A caring priest and the near-death experience persuaded him to embrace the Christian faith. Paul later joined the Seventh Day Adventist church and entered the ministry as a chaplain at the Taiwan Adventist Hospital in Taipei. There he met and married a nursing student, Anna Hsieh (謝慧貞), in 1961.

In 1965, Paul, along with Anna and their first son, Timothy, left Taiwan and journeyed to Worcester County, MA, to complete his theological studies at Atlantic Union College. Their second son, Paul Charles, was born in Clinton, MA, at this time. Feeling led to plant Chinese churches, Rev. Tseng moved his family to New York City where their third son, Stephen, would be born. In 1970, the Chinese Christian fellowship that met in the garage of his family’s Brooklyn home was officially organized as the Brooklyn Chinese Christian [now Community] Church. Pastor Paul and Anna faced the hardships of the fledgling church during its early years with determination and faith, all the while devoting themselves to raising three boys.

Under his leadership, the small church sponsored dozens of ethnic Chinese refugee families from Southeast Asia displaced due to a border war in Vietnam in 1979. The church, at the time, also shared facilities with a Haitian, Puerto Rican, and White (transitioning to African American) congregation and became an early model of multicultural ministry at the Baptist Church of the Redeemer.

As the church grew in the 1980s, the Tseng family experienced a bit more stability. They were reunited with Eunice’s family, who immigrated to New York City. Pastor Paul then embarked on efforts to plant churches in Queens and Long Island, New York. In the 1990s, BCCC was able to acquire its own facilities. During that time, Pastor Paul visited China frequently to teach, train, and connect with the local church leaders. He became known as an insightful biblical interpreter and expositor.

Rev. Paul Tseng retired from full-time ministry in 1999, shortly after Anna was diagnosed with ALS. They moved to San Diego, California, where he cared for Anna and continued to reach out to the Chinese community with the gospel. Anna Hsieh Tseng passed away peacefully with her family by her side shortly after moving to Elk Grove, California, on September 9, 2003.

Paul married Amy Meng Xiao (蒙霄) on October 24, 2004 and settled in Elk Grove. He was finally able to enjoy traveling for recreation and treasured spending time with his family. Writing books, preparing lessons, and teaching, Pastor Paul served the local Chinese community and supported ministries in China. When he could no longer travel to China, he trained Christian leaders throughout Asia by teaching and broadcasting online. He continued serving until his death.

Rev. Tseng is survived by his wife, Amy Meng Xiao (蒙霄); his three sons and their spouses: Timothy (曾祥雨) and Betty, Paul Charles (曾祥霖) and Katie, Stephen (曾祥雷) and Vivien; his two daughters and their spouses: Rong Zeng (曾容) and David Mei Lun (王美伦), Peggy (孙湉) and Xiao Li (李潇); 11 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; and his younger sister and her spouse, Fan Xuan (曾凡宣) and Rong (胡榮).  He was preceded in death by his first wife Mao Xiang Shen (申茂香) in 1961, his second wife Anna (謝慧貞) in 2003, and his younger brother Fan Zao (曾凡藻) in 2021. 

Rev. Paul Fan Ping Tseng leaves a grateful family and an inspiring legacy of faith in God and devotion to the Chinese church worldwide.

A viewing, open to all friends, will be held at East Lawn Memorial in Elk Grove, California, on October 14, 2021, between 5pm and 8pm.

A private viewing and memorial service will be held for family members on October 15, 2021. The service will start at 10am and will be livestreamed from the East Lawn obituary website: https://www.eastlawn.com/obituary/pastor-paul-fan-ping-tseng/

In lieu of flowers or non-monetary gifts, please consider making a gift to these two organizations. Their missions represent the lifework of Rev. Paul F. Tseng. Gifts may be made “in honor of” or “in memory of” Rev. Paul F. Tseng.

Overseas Missionary Fellowship
10 W Dry Creek Circle
Littleton, CO 80120
https://omf.org/us

The Alliance of Asian American Baptist Churches
Seminarian Scholarship Fund
c/o Japanese Baptist Church
160 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122
https://allianceofaabc.wixsite.com/mysite

Happy Lunar New Year! Hope > Anxiety

Dear ministry partners,

I want to wish you a Happy Lunar New Year, even though it feels more somber this year. Despite the recent rash of violence against Asian Americans (which has continued unabated since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.), I will still celebrate with millions of people around the world. Despite the suffering of so many, let us not give up hope. Jesus Christ remains our reason for hope.


In San Francisco, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee died January 30th after getting shoved to the ground. Also, on Oakland, a 91-year-old was brutally pushed from behind. And in San Jose, a 64-year-old woman was robbed in the middle of the afternoon. [image from https://www.instagram.com/jdschang/%5D

Learn More


Generations of Americans have been taught to see Asian Americans (if we are seen at all) as outsiders and foreigners. Consider this testimony by Rev. O.C. Wheeler (who is regarded as a founding father of California Baptists). His public testimony against Chinese immigrants helped lead to the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Here are some quotes:

the presence of the Chinese has a resistless tendency to degrade labor…, to pollute morals, to destroy virtue among our people. (p. 14)

…under the most favorable circumstances, they fail to show the first step toward assimilation, or the least desire to become Americans. (p. 16)

for every one Christian we have gained from their ranks, they have utterly ruined the morals and led into infamous ways fifty of our sons and daughters. (p. 24)

These perceptions were burned into the American psyche and provided the excuse to treat Asian Americans as unfeeling, less-than-human objects – playthings for bullies. Thus, even our elderly are beaten up because they are easy targets. So, no, mocking Chinese accents and making jokes like “Kung Flu” are not harmless.

Despite anti-Asian racism, hope never fades when we can look to Jesus and follow him. God is raising up a new generation of disciples among college and grad students and faculty. InterVarsity’s campus ministry staff is the vanguard of a new evangelicalism that will not bow to the Baal of Christian nationalism. This rising generation is seeking, praying, and working for a spiritual renewal that points to God’s kingdom of right relationships and shalom.

This is one of the reasons why your support of my ministry with InterVarsity is so important. Yes, we invite people on campuses into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. But we also want to bear witness to the healing that Jesus’ kingdom offers to the brokenness in our congregations and society.

(Keep scrolling down to see the recent work that we’re doing to advance the cause of Christ. I’d love to hear back from you!)

And so, because our hope is in Jesus, I can wish you a very Happy Lunar New Year! Please let me know how you are doing and how I can pray for you!


Ministry Highlights

Telling stories of Asian American Christianity

I wrote a series articles on the history of Chinese American Christianity the last issue of Chinasource Quarterly. View at this link.

Dr. Jane Hong and I will co-host a podcast series on the history of Asian American Christianity for Centering, the podcast of Fuller Seminary’s Asian American Center. It will air next week!

Virtual Winter Conference

Thirty-four grad students joined our first ever Pacific Area virtual Winter Conference last weekend. We were blessed with inspiring messages about living out the gospel in a changing world! Thank you for your prayers during a difficult pandemic challenged academic year. Please pray for our chapters as they seek new leaders for the next academic year.

Race, Justice, and Immigration

The next In Search of Shalom session is Sunday, February 21 at 4:00 pm PST! ISOS is a multi-month book discussion series allowing for examination of racial justice from a Christian perspective in a variety of realms. Join us on February 21st as we discuss the topic of Race, Justice, and Immigration. For details and to register to take part in this conversation go to this link!

Christian Faculty Conference

Please join us Friday evening March 12th and Saturday morning March 13th for the Northern California Christian Faculty and Staff Conference, co-sponsored by InterVarsity and Faculty Commons! We welcome participants throughout the Western states and Hawai’i to join us, so please invite your colleagues who are outside of Northern California. This conference is hosted by GFM Pacific, Cru’s Faculty Commons, and IV Pacific Region. Click below for details.

For more information and to sign up, go to this link.

Matching Grant Success!

Thanks to the 15 new partners whose pledges allowed me to get a matching grant! Each new partner pledged at least $75 a month for 2021 for the 15/75/21 campaign. This grant will help defray an anticipated loss in financial support and free me up to devote more time to ministry. New partners are still sought, so please consider making a pledge or donation at https://donate.intervarsity.org/donate#21447.

Christmas 2020 Greetings!

Christ is born!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

Because of the pandemic, it has been a year of separation. But because of the Incarnation of God in Jesus, the Messiah, no separation from his love is permanent. With this in mind, we wish you God’s love and presence in the coming year!

I’m glad to report that Betty and I have not been too negatively affected by the pandemic. Betty had planned to concentrate on home projects this year, anyway. And my work was increasingly based in my home office. But 2020 was an emotionally stressful year as we wrestled with how politics, protests, and the pandemic have impacted our neighbors and relatives.

The pandemic has had an impact on our sons this year. Nathaniel’s work in autism services has been limited to remote work. His start-up, Imaginary Horizons Productions, has also encountered several pandemic related obstacles despite their community building software being in greater demand at the moment. Benji moved out and co-owns a home with a church friend. But he lost his job because of the economic downturn due to the pandemic. He is now looking for new employment.

Through it all, we are hopeful. We are also grateful for your prayers, your thoughtfulness, and your support! May you experience a new year of health, fruitfulness, and renewal!

Christmas Gifts for you!

Because you’ve been such a blessing to me, our students, faculty, and staff, allow me to share the following. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to:

Other gifts: stories of transformation and outreach.

  • This professor’s testimony of how God transformed her during her grad studies is one of the reasons why I love my ministry. It also shows why Christian work among grad students and faculty is key to the future of Christianity.
  • This fall, the Haas Christian Fellowship at U.C. Berkeley decided to affiliate with InterVarsity’s GFM and with our area. We welcome them to our MBA ministry!
  • Janice Goh, one of the leaders with Acts Christian Fellowship at U.C.S.F., writes for the university’s student newspaper. Through her writings, she has drawn attention to the chapter. Have a look!
  • A testimony from Taylor Lee and Jessica Marotte, our IV staff at the community colleges in Sacramento, CA (edited):

At our first meeting, one of the faculty that came invited another that I had never even heard of and she came without hesitation with only a day’s notice! And this faculty really ended up inspiring us the most with her stories of how she has been interacting with students before and during covid. This professor, L. is an immigrant woman from China. She teaches in the business department at ARC and oftentimes has international students in her class who are also from China. She said that they can tell she has an accent and will sometimes linger after class to ask her about her story –how she became so successful moving here, what it was like, and any advice she has to offer. She is so bold and always shares with them how intricate God was and is in her life’s story. Because of this, one student decided to join her for church before the pandemic really hit and things were shut down. She shared about this student with us during our first prayer meeting together and was overjoyed to tell us that they had just texted her recently saying they were super grateful that she had invited them and introduced them to faith because they had made a decision to follow Jesus and was baptized at their church that morning!! Because of L’s boldness to share about her faith and eagerness to invite students into that, one more person has joined the Kingdom of God! Praise God!

Allow me to introduce you to Dr. Denise Thompson, ‘s new National Director of Black Scholars and Professionals Ministry. She and her husband, Andre, have lent support to the Graduate and Faculty Ministries at Stanford University and the area. Our area has partnered with BSAP to host “In Search of Shalom,” a monthly zoom series that addresses Race, Justice and a variety of contemporary issues. Have a look at this fall’s episodes!

The GFM Pacific team would like to thank you for your support and prayers! Have a blessed Advent and Christmas!

For more immediate updates and resources, visit these links:

Special request. 2021 will be a challenging year for me and InterVarsity staff to sustain their ministry budgets. I anticipate devoting much more time to support raising during a critical time for our students and university faculty and staff. Would you be open to chatting with me about my specific financial needs? Let me know and I’ll be happy to arrange a zoom or phone call.

If you’d like to give a special end of the year donation, please click the picture below. Thank you!

Sowing Seeds for Virtual Campuses. A Ministry Update.

Sowing Seeds for Virtual Campuses
Tim Tseng | September 13, 2020

Photo by Dương Trí on Unsplash

It has been a summer of discontent. It has also been a summer of possibilities. The pandemic and protests have plowed soil that had lain fallow far too long. In response to where we believe the Spirit is leading the church’s ministry to campuses, our GFM Pacific Team is transitioning to digital platforms in anticipation of virtual campus life. Moving on-line also gives us flexibility to increase outreach and jump start hybrid ministries when we return to in-person gatherings. It has been hard work for our staff, grad student leaders, and faculty. Because there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of these changes, it feels more like sowing than planting.  But it also feels like spiritual renewal.

Most of the heavy lifting has been done. But to be honest, I think we’ll be quite busy for the remainder of the academic year as we learn from these experiences and tweak our digital ministries. Anyway, have a look at what we did. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

1. We created a website for the Pacific Area GFM. The website serves as a portal to our grad student chapters, faculty/staff ministries, and student blogs.

2. We created social media accounts for communication and marketing:

3. We appointed Esmond Lee to serve as the volunteer Dean of students for the Pacific GFM Area. Esmond is a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University. He has brought together student leadership from our six grad student chapters (Stanford, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, U.C. San Francisco, U.C. Santa Cruz, and University of Hawaii Manoa) to plan student-led digital events.

Speaking of which, our grad students are organizing Square Inch Stories (SIS) Exchanges and other on-line events. The SIS provide opportunities for grad students and postdocs to share how they see God working in every square inch of their lives (including their academic disciplines). The name draws inspiration from the declaration of Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920):

No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’

Kuyper’s quote is not about Christian colonialism. Rather, it speaks to the conviction that God seeks to redeem every area of life – all of creation – for good. I’m delighted that our students are affirming Christian discipleship that includes the integration of faith with their professional vocation and academic disciplines.

Pacific Area GFM student zoom-inar

We anticipate more student-led zoom-based events this fall. Many of them will be open to undergrad students, faculty, and ministry partners, too! So check our Facebook pages and Instagram regularly for more information.

4. The digital platform has also enhanced our ministry with faculty and college staff. Some faculty/staff chapters have experienced an increase in participation because the zoom app makes it easier to meet. We have improved collaboration with the InterVarsity Pacific Region staff (who minister to undergrads and faculty) and with Cru’s Faculty Commons. In Hawaii, thirty faculty/staff participated in a virtual lunch gathering on April 24 and a virtual retreat on August 13-14. Thirty also joined the Northern California faculty/staff “meet and greet” on August 12. Even more participated in the GFM West Coast Virtual Faculty Conference on July 28-29 and a digital Camino spiritual pilgrimage over the summer (sponsored by IV’s National Faculty Ministries). These summer activities for faculty more than made up for the postponed Nor Cal Faculty/Staff Conference. I sensed that our faculty/staff were spiritually refreshed, enjoyed connecting with and praying for one another, and energized to bear witness to Christ on their campuses this fall.

I hope to see some of our faculty work on projects that can inform students, colleagues, and the Church about ways to live out Christian faith in the midst of change. I believe their expertise is much needed for our times. (For some examples, see the Venn diagram project of So Cal GFM, the Carver Project, the Consortium of Christian Study Centers)

5. Also, on July 13 and 17 we hosted a virtual watch party for Chinese Church ministry partners to view “Gimme a Faith,” a PBS documentary about the experiences of students from China who were met by a Chinese church in North Carolina. The after party conversation led to some substantial reflection about how to connect with and reach students from China during our very challenging political climate. We hope to offer more opportunities to share and learn from our ministry partners. Special thanks to Darren Hsiung, our campus staff at UC Berkeley (and who is now fully funded!) and Callie Chaspuri, International Student Ministries in Las Vegas, for organizing the watch party!

6. Finally, I want to officially welcome Howard Chang to our team! Pastor Howard pastored the Davis Chinese Christian Church since 2014. Prior to that he had over twenty years of pastoral ministry experience in Chinese churches in Northern and Southern California. He completed his D.Min. in Leadership Development at Fuller Theological Seminary in 2016.

This past year, Howard served as Staff Associate (volunteer) at the Grad and Professional Students Fellowship at U.C. Davis, along with his wife, Lori. Howard will be a Team Leader for the California Central Valley. As soon as he completes support raising, he will lead our grad and faculty ministries at U.C. Davis and explore collaborative efforts in Sacramento and U.C. Merced. His passion in ministry is equipping Kingdom-minded leaders through personal mentoring and team building.

Howard is also an active patient health advocate and blogger. He is motivated by empowering and inspiring those living with chronic illness to thrive emotionally and spiritually. He draws from his experience living with severe psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin disease, since childhood. His award-winning column, The Itch to Beat Psoriasis, has been hosted by Everyday Health since 2007. WEGO Health, a patient leader network, named Howard to their Top 10 List: 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his advocacy work.

Please pray for him as he raises support this fall!

Unlike planting, the sowing metaphor implies a willingness to relinquish control over the end results. Jesus used this metaphor in his well-known parable. Some seeds fell on the wayside or were choked by thorns and thistles, unable to produce fruit. Others fell on rocky soil and never grew deep roots. Yet, some fell on good soil and bore much fruit. We don’t know if our efforts this past summer will yield good fruit, but we trust God to provide the growth. I’m confident that God will bring about renewal. Thank you, ministry partners, for your prayers and financial support!

Would you consider making, renewing, or increasing your financial support for my ministry this month? Just go to http://givetoiv.org/Tim_Tseng and login or set up an account in order to make a secure on-line donation. Let me know if you prefer to contribute by other methods.

Battling my imposter syndrome

Over the past three months, I’ve been busy transitioning our Grad and Faculty ministries to on-line platforms in anticipation of a challenging new academic year. But, I’ve also had the privilege to talk and teach about anti-Asian racism and Asian American history and theology.

I’m not comfortable promoting my work or myself. Some may think that the diversity of experiences I’ve had would boost my self-confidence. Actually, the opposite is true. It’s not really humility, either. Since the trauma of leaving theological education and the academic community fifteen years ago, I’ve wrestled with “imposter syndrome” in almost everything I’ve done.

But reconnecting with my academic peers at last year’s American Academy of Religion meeting, being invited to re-engage anti-Asian racism by the Asian American Christian Collaborative and the Alliance of Asian American Baptists, and having a chance to provide a reflection for the Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary has renewed me spiritually and intellectually. I still don’t like seeing or hearing myself on video, but what the heck. I need to hear the advice that GFM gives to grad students and young faculty when facing imposter syndrome – trust God because he has placed us in these stations of life for a bigger purpose. And, for me, the larger purpose is giving voice to Asian Americans and reforming Christianity to face its global and multi-racial future. So, here is a little bit of my passion…

I. Having my academic work mentioned as recommended summer reading!

I’m grateful that some of my academic publications were referred to by Dr. Jane Hong in Melissa Borja’s blog, “Asian Americans and American Religion: Recommendations for Your Summer Reading and Fall Syllabi.” The field of Asian American religion has really expanded since I was active in it. I’ve been focused on a history and theology of Chinese American Christianity project, but working with Grad and Faculty Ministries has justified re-entering the wider field.

II. Giving a video devotional for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Fuller Theological Seminary’s Asian American Center invited me to give a reflection on Panethnicity and the Bible for their Centered Blog. Three other scholars also shared their devotionals during AAPI heritage month. Please have a look at the blog!

Panethnicity and the Bible

III. Addressing Anti-Asian Racism during the coronavirus pandemic

The Alliance of Asian American Baptists invited me and Katharine Hsiao to discuss racism against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rev. Florence Li, National Coordinator of Asian Ministries at American Baptist Home Mission Societies hosted the conversation. Katharine discusses how Asian American Baptists are responding to reports of anti-Asian racism. I provided a historical overview about how anti-Asian attitudes and ideas permeated American society. Something that I hope to share more is about how Christians have been complicit with racism and how some Christians have also fought against racism. Each generation of believers have a choice to make.

Rev. Florence Li interview about anti-Asian racism during COVID-19

Here is a short interview with Kwok Pui Lan on “Why I signed the AACC Statement” for the Asian American Christian Collaborative. It was hastily organized, but I was blessed to re-connect with one of the leading Asian theologians of our generation!

A conversation with Dr. Kwok Pui Lan

I also was on a panel at U.C. Diego’s Asian American InterVarsity chapter with Jenn Louie (InterVarsity’s California Central Valley Area Director). We discussed the effects of Anti-Asian sentiment and some practical ways to respond to it. Thanks, Zach Wong, for inviting me!

We now resume regularly scheduled programming…

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