Rev. Stephen Tong Preached to 76,000 People in Indonesia in August

Rev. Stephen Tong, a Chinese Indonesian Reformed pastor, evangelized at an event in Boston on September 17, 2023.
Rev. Stephen Tong, a Chinese Indonesian Reformed pastor, evangelized at an event in Boston on September 17, 2023. (photo: screenshot)
By Phoebe SunOctober 13th, 2023

In recent years, Rev. Stephen Tong, an overseas Chinese Indonesian Reformed pastor in his eighties, has continued to travel around Indonesia to preach the gospel. In just the past August, Pastor Tong's evangelical events in three cities in Indonesia attracted a total of 76,000 people in attendance.

In mid-September, at the 2023 US East Coast Gospel Rally in Boston, Tong shared this unlifting news with the audience.

"In these past few years, I've traveled to 189 cities across Indonesia, including towns, and spent only one day in each city before moving on to the next. Among those 189 cities, I've preached to a total of 720,000 people."

Pastor Tong shared that out of these 720,000 people, more than 500,000 came forward during the altar call. The number of attendees at each preaching event ranged from 3,000 to 10,000 people. In the entire month of August, this pastor preached to 76,000 people in Indonesia.

In three cities in North Sumatra Province in August, Indonesia, Pastor Tong's team would prearrange open-air venues in the city centers and set up chairs and podiums when they arrived in each city.

After each preaching event, the team would pack up the chairs and equipment and transport them to the next city. He mentioned that several large trucks were arranged to carry the stools for the audience.

"We need to set up 5,000 chairs, and sometimes, when we just finished arranging them around 4-6 p.m., it started raining and our team members quickly wiped the chairs dry. When the sun went down at 7 p.m., people started coming." Tong said he was deeply moved by the scene of people gathering. When the chairs ran out, people would stand to listen to the gospel.

In the world's most populous Muslim country, Tong has the opportunity to preach the gospel to Muslims during his events in Indonesia. The sound systems installed at the preaching events allowed the sound to reach a wider audience. He said, "Some people don't come out because they are Muslims; they just listen at the windows."

As one of the most respected evangelists in the world, Tong stated that in August, during the preaching event in Doloksanggul, a county town in North Sumatra Province with a population of 13,000, 9,000 people attended the event. He explained that Doloksanggul was a predominantly Christian area and that Indonesians made up the majority of the population in such areas, with very few Chinese.

He shared that on the day of the preaching event in Doloksanggul, he invited the restaurant owners to the event while dining in a Chinese restaurant. Later, the restaurant owners, along with their grandson, attended the event.

"When you see a gathering of ten thousand people, with thousands coming to the front to receive the calling, it brings tears to your eyes. It's like the scenes from two thousand years ago when Jesus preached in diverse cities and villages. Like John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, people came to repent and come before the Lord."

Tong explained why he only held open-air evangelistic events in Indonesia, "In Indonesia, I can't hold evangelistic rallies at churches because even the largest churches can only accommodate two or three thousand people. Many people think that Western churches are thriving while Eastern churches are declining, but that's completely wrong. The world's largest Chinese churches are in Indonesia, not in the United States or Europe."

Regarding his ministry in Indonesia, this pastor proudly said, "I designed the largest church in the world, Gereja Katedral Jakartal, with Indonesian funds, without a single penny of foreign aid. It can seat 6,500 people, right in Jakarta."

As for the reason for his worldwide preaching tours, Tong said that because he had Chinese blood running through my veins and a debt of the gospel, he wanted to spread the gospel to Chinese people all over the world. In September, he conducted farewell preaching tours in four cities in the United States: Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., spanning 16 days, with four days of preaching in each city. Regarding the reason for conducting farewell preaching events in North America, Rev. Tong explained that he was now 83 years old and might not return to North America for preaching. As for his gospel work in Indonesia, he said that as long as God gave him strength, he would continue.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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