This 90-year-old paints Christian Chinese New Year couplets to bless others

Salt&Light wishes all Chinese readers a Blessed Lunar New Year!

by Christine Leow // February 7, 2024, 8:46 pm


Senior Pastor of Renewal Christian Church Rev Dr Chern Hock Chye (left) and nonagenarian Ang Hock Chye with his Christian couplets. Uncle Hock Chye regularly gives away his calligraphy work to bless others. All photos courtesy of Ang Hock Chye.

Ang Hock Chye bends over a table, his head of dark hair bowed over his work. With a steady hand, he guides the calligraphy brush deftly across the paper. The words appear swiftly – 福杯满溢恩典充盈 . (The cup of blessing overflows with grace.)

The Chinese New Year couplet is a poetic reference to Psalm 23:5, where King David speaks of the latter years of his life when God had so blessed him that his portion in life (his cup) overflowed. 

Uncle Hock Chye honed his calligraphy skills six years ago by using YouTube videos to guide him.

Uncle Hock Chye, as he is known to his friends, has been writing these Christian versions of Chinese New Year couplets for three years. He is often invited to Chinese associations in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year to give live demonstrations.

“I write traditional ones as well as Christian ones, and hand them out to the people around,” the sprightly 90-year-old tells Salt&Light in Mandarin.

“I don’t know if they are believers or not. But so far no one has minded that I give out the Christian couplets. It’s a way for me to testify to the goodness of God.”

But Uncle Hock Chye has not always been a believer himself.

One faith

Uncle Hock Chye and his wife Aunty Siew Hua, 86, only started worshipping at Renewal Christian Church about three years ago. They were the last in their family of four children and four grandchildren to become Christians.

“My Christian couplets are a way for me to testify to the goodness of God.”

“Even our in-laws and daughters-in-law are believers. So we joined them,” quips Aunty Siew Hua in Mandarin.

But beyond being a family of faith together, Uncle Hock Chye and Aunty Siew Hua gave their lives to Jesus because of the testimony of their eldest son who lives with them. 

Says Uncle Hock Chye: “We were moved by his behaviour. He is very filial. After work, he would buy food for us.

“He helps out around the house a lot. He knows a lot of things. So when we have trouble with our computer, we ask him for help.

“On his day off, he would cook for us. He pays for things around the house.”

Aunty Siew Hua, moved by her son’s testimony, became a Christian in her 80s.

Aunty Siew Hua agrees: “He is a very good son.”

Since their son has been a full-time church worker at Renewal Christian Church for over two decades, when they decided to settle in a church, they went to the same church.

The goodness of God

Aunty Siew Hua says that, since then, she has seen God’s protection in her life and the lives of those she loves. On one occasion, she had a bad fall, but only broke her right arm.

“Nothin happened to him. It is because of God. God lifted him up.”

“God must have held me up.”

But the break was severe.

“The doctor told me that I must have a surgery. Otherwise, I would lose mobility in that arm and I would be handicapped.”

But in the end, Aunty Siew Hua needed only a cast. Swinging her arm to demonstrate her agility, she adds: “I’m not handicapped! This is God’s doing.”

Every night since she became a Christian, she prays for her family. One of her grandsons was driving home after a party and crashed into a fence. His car landed in a drain but he emerged unscathed.

“Nothing happened to him. It is because God lifted him up,” Aunty Siew Hua says.

Living for God  

For Uncle Hock Chye, being a Christian has changed his life’s mission.

“That I can live this long, it is all because of God. I am grateful. So I want to live on, maybe another 10 years, so I can still be of help to others.”

“God is love.” “God’s grace overflows.” “He fills my cup to overflowing.” The Christian couplets Uncle Hock Chye paints speak of God’s goodness.

This is why also he writes and gives out Christian Chinese New Year couplets that speak of God’s nature.

“God has given me the energy, so I have to keep learning and living for Him.”

As a youth, he had learnt calligraphy and been quite good at it.

After he retired, he picked up many different skills. He taught himself to edit videos, use the computer, play musical instruments and speak Malay. Six years ago, he honed his calligraphy skills.

“I looked up YouTube videos,” he says.

Since then, he has participated in several competitions and has won awards.

For his Christian Chinese New Year couplets, Uncle Hock Chye draws inspiration from weekly sermons, as well as the Internet.

A few weeks before the Salt&Light interview, he set up a booth in his church to paint Christian couplets. Worshippers bought his artwork and proceeds from the sales went to the church.

“God has given me the energy, I have to keep learning and living for Him.”


3 places to buy Chinese New Year decorations that honour Christ in your home

3 places to get Chinese New Year decorations that point to Christ’s presence

“We wanted to offer traditional New Year decorations that bear witness to Christian values”: Moses Zhao of buzzworthy Chinatown shop

About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.