| Live From Taiwan
THOUSANDS IN ASIA LEARN ENGLISH — AND THE CHRISTIAN GOSPEL
FROM “TEACHER PENG”
|Doris Brougham was recently in the news when ORTV
formed alliances with three of Taiwan's universities and its
police force to improve students' and police officers' English.
Deana McEachern sat in the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
in Seattle, embroiled in red tape. She needed a visa to visit her
aunt, Doris Brougham, but new obstacles arose with every passing
BY HOPE MCPHERSON
“I’m sorry,” she finally said to the embassy clerk. “I forgot to
give you my aunt’s Chinese name: Peng Meng-hui.” The clerk stopped
short, quickly left and returned with his boss. “You’re Peng Meng-hui’s
niece?” asked the supervisor. “She’s highly respected in Taiwan.
I learned English from her!” McEachern soon left with her visa in
Brougham, virtually a household name in Asia, has a simple explanation
for her fame: “If you give God your life, you don’t know what he’s
going to do with it.” She received Taiwan’s highest civilian award
— the Order of the Brilliant Star With Violet Grand Cordon — from
President Chen Shui Bian in April 2002. And recently Taiwan’s minister
of the interior came to her offices in Taipei to award her with
permanent resident status, making her one of the first foreigners
to receive it.
A 1953 alumna of Seattle Pacific College, Brougham has lived in
Asia for more than 50 years, remaining even when political climates
grew hot. “I was evacuated three times when the Communists came
through,” she says.
Brougham’s journey East began in childhood, when she heard about
a spiritual famine of sorts in China. Only one-tenth of 1 percent
of the Chinese population was Christian, and she was determined
to do something about it. After attending Simpson Bible School in
San Francisco and the University of Washington, she packed her bags
and traveled to China for what she expected to be a two-year mission.
She returned to Seattle in 1953 just long enough to earn a degree
A one-time member of the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, Brougham
played her trumpet in rural Northwest China, literally drawing villagers
down from the mountain to hear the Word of God. But she couldn’t
reach people fast enough. “They were dying faster than I could tell
them about God,” she says.
A short time later, while on the east coast of Taiwan, Brougham
saw people crowded around radios in homes and temples. She asked
God to send someone to establish radio ministry. God’s reply:
Why not you?
Reluctant at first, she found a pastor to preach God’s good news,
recruited a small singing group and, in her home, recorded a variety
gospel program on her tape recorder — the first brought into Taiwan.
Once she’d received permission from the Taiwan government station,
BCC, to air the programs, Brougham began pedaling her bike to the
station to deliver the tapes. A few years later, she founded Overseas
Radio & Television Inc. (ORTV).
With fellow Seattleite Leland Haggerty, Brougham helped begin the
gospel radio station, “The Voice of Salvation.” In 1962, they added
the “Heavenly Melody” telecasts, featuring the Heavenly Melody singing
ensemble performing original Asian Christian music.
Over time, Brougham refocused the broadcasts to teach English, often
incorporating topics such as forgiveness and compassion into the
language curriculum. “When we teach English, we don’t actually teach
just English, but a global view — lifestyles, health, values and
relationships,” she says.
That gets tricky in China, though, where ORTV is now also heard.
Brougham and her staff stay away from sensitive topics, and when
American-Chinese diplomatic relations are strained, she says, they
feel it. Yet with her love of teaching as strong today as decades
ago, Brougham remains one of the primary English language teachers
in Asia. Known as Teacher Peng, she’s credited with teaching English
Brougham’s mission work continues as well. She and her colleagues
hold Bible studies, rallies, conferences and youth camps. The singing
group Heavenly Melody still tours and shares the gospel.
And ORTV continues to grow. Today the station reaches hundreds of
millions of people in Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa,
Europe, Brazil, Canada and the United States. It broadcasts several
popular radio and television shows, “Let’s Talk in English,” “Studio
Classroom” and “Studio Coffee Corner,” and it publishes the magazine
Last summer, Brougham traveled to Seattle with the crew and actors
of “Let’s Talk in English” and “Studio Coffee Corner.” In Seattle,
they filmed episodes for the shows’ entire year, with each segment
delivering English lessons related to events such as opening a bank
account, going to a restaurant and enrolling in an American university.
Brougham insisted that the university featured be Seattle Pacific
Calling herself a “penny-pinching missionary,” Brougham packed her
stay with activity up and down the West Coast. Heavenly Melody
joined her to tour in Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British
Columbia; Los Angeles; and San Francisco.
McEachern accompanied the group and saw again the extent of her
aunt’s influence. Many concert-goers told McEachern they’d learned
English from her aunt, and people lined up for the autograph of
Still surprised at the turns of her life, Brougham shrugs. “The
main thing is to be willing to do what God asks you to do,” she
says. “I had to learn that from the very beginning.”
PHOTOS COURTESY OF ORTV
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