Former triad leader of the notorious 14K in Hong Kong, Teddy Hung shares his story of love, chastening and redemption.
By Dawn Seow
His is a story of God’s love and redemption. It tells us that time is never an issue for God when He disciples someone; and it is never too late for anyone to come back to Him.
At the age of 15, Teddy Hung joined a triad. During the 1970s and through the ’80s, he became the most feared triad leader in Hong Kong with businesses that involved drug-dealing, gambling dens and discos. He had four wives and a host of girlfriends, each one a top model or actress in Hong Kong.
As he grew older, he began to see how his gambling dens were causing families to break up and his drug businesses had forced youngsters to start stealing and engaging in other illegal businesses. He started to despise himself and soon slipped into depression. His nights were restless and he started having suicidal thoughts.
“It was very strange that I would have suicidal thoughts because I’ve always hated people who kill themselves. I felt that they were wimps,” said Hung, in one video testimony.
Doctors could not cure his depression or insomnia and he was perpetually in a bad mood. A group of pastors tried to reach out to him but he rejected their invitation outright, declaring that he “hated people who talk about Jesus.” He would curse and swear at others who tried to preach the Gospel to him, boasting that “I am prepared to go to hell.”
Knowing that he would not attend a church service, those same pastors invited him to a Crossover concert by Sun Ho, which was held in Hong Kong in 2002. This was one in a series of concerts throughout Asia by Sun in which she performed pop songs from her hit albums; she would then share her testimony in the middle of the concert, and at the end of the show, her husband, Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church in Singapore, would give an altar call. This simple routine saw tens of thousands receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
At the end of the Hong Kong show, Hung found himself at the front of the stage, saying the sinner’s prayer led by Kong.
That very night, Hung said a prayer to God saying “If You are real, heal me of my insomnia and I’ll believe in You.” That was the first night in many that he had a full night’s sleep. That experience taught him that God was indeed real.
SEVEN YEARS OF CHASTENING
“In the past 10 years, I have had many experiences of God, but two of them changed my life,” Hung said in an interview with City News.
After becoming a Christian, his gambling dens started losing money. He was worried but remembered the words of another ex-triad leader who also became a Christian: “We gave our lives to Jesus, Satan is obviously unhappy; he won’t let it come easy for us.”
Hung also found it hard to give up many bad habits. He decided to “apply for two years leave” from God and went to Thailand to establish more gambling dens. When those gambling dens also lost money, and the Thai government banned all gambling dens, he found himself furious with God.
“I took my cross pendant off and decided not to follow Jesus anymore. The next few nights, I couldn’t sleep a full hour! A few days later, I put on the necklace with the cross again, and I fell asleep immediately. I freaked out when I woke up. This God is formidable!”
Feeling really confused and frightened, Hung went back to his pastors in Hong Kong. “What kind of God is this? When I believe in Him, He causes me to lose all my business; when I don’t, He doesn’t let me sleep!” he complained.
“My pastors said to me, ‘Taking two years of leave was what you wanted, not what God wanted. Would you let your children go into illegal businesses like you are doing now? He loves you and that is why He wants to lead you out of it.’”
This marked the first time Hung understood the love of God.
“But I still found it hard to let go of his businesses and women. My gambling dens give jobs to thousands of people; and if I let my girlfriends go, they would have no one to protect them. This was my biggest concern; I thought I needed to be loyal to them.”
In the years following, he struggled with the same problems, refusing to give God full control of his life. Three years ago, he finally met with God in a powerful way.
“There came a point I decided to end my own life. I told the pastors I was going to kill myself and nothing could stop me. I went home to write my will but just when I was done, God spoke to me. I ended up tearing away the will and falling asleep.”
When Hung woke up, he knelt down and for the first time prayed to God, calling Him Father God. That afternoon, God brought him up to the Heavens and he experienced the harsh sufferings of hell and the extreme joy in heaven.
“The suffering in hell was so much that it was unbearable; but the joy in heaven was indescribable,” Hung said.
That experience changed Hung’s life forever. “I realized how foolish I was to hold on to all the things in the world when eternity is so real. I used to think that if God wants me to abandon my brothers, girlfriend and children, with no one to look after them, then God is not a good God! But God said to me ‘If you continue in this business, you will only drag your brothers and all your girlfriends down to hell. If you cannot bear the suffering, do you think they can? I am the Creator of Heaven and earth and I decide what happens to My people; there is no need for you to worry about them, just pray and commit them to Me and I will take care of them. Their wealth on this earth is not as important as where they go after they die.’ Having experienced heaven and hell, I know for sure that I can’t let my brothers and wives go to hell.”
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
Hung closed down all his businesses and left all his wives and girlfriends. He enrolled himself into Bible school. Today, at the age of 64, he is a legal businessman and has started a church that caters specially to triad members.
“When I finally let go, I began to see that He will take control. I was so worried about my wives and girlfriends, but now, all except two of my wives have given their lives to Jesus!
“The experience also made me realize that no one can save the triad members from the wrath of hell other than Jesus. And when one triad member is saved, his whole family will begin to see the change in him and know that this Jesus is real and very powerful. They too will come to God.”
No one knows the business of the triads and the needs of the triad members better than Hung , who led the triad for so many years. Therefore, no one could share Jesus with them the way he can. He developed a system to reach out to them effectively.
Instead of holding their worship meetings on the weekends like the mainstream churches, Hung chose to hold their meetings on Tuesday nights.
“We hold meetings on Tuesday because the triad members will be busy with the horse-racing and football betting on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday; and at night because triad members only come alive at night, they are usually sleeping in the daytime,” he explained.
Hung shared that reaching out to triad members requires a step-by-step process. The church would reach out to them by helping them find a living and teaching them to do legal business. “It is useless to tell them about Jesus but not solve their problem of finding a job outside of the gang,” he said.
The church meetings are structured in a way that there will only be 15 minutes of preaching. “If we preach anything longer than 15 minutes, the triad members will think it’s a torture and not come back. They won’t understand the preaching anyway, so instead, we get people to share their life-changing testimonies so that the attendees can get a glimpse of the love of God. We also use more contemporary music for praise and worship.”
After three months, the preaching of the Word will increase to 30 minutes and one year later, the preaching will extend to an hour. “When they ‘graduate’ and become a real disciple, they can move on to the mainstream churches, because our church caters specifically to triad members.”
At the end of this interview, Hung summed his salvation experience into one sentence: “Don’t be afraid to let go of what you have: God wants to take away the bad things to give you the good; and when He gives, it will be a hundredfold.”