When the invitation came a week ago for a Youth Conference in Nabawan/Pensiangan one of the last frontier interior Districts, my initial reaction was "not again". My Christmas travels had dealt a psychological blow not least mentally and also physically. As per the norm I asked for 2 or 3 days before deciding on the invitation and I did pray everyday and asked the Lord but perhaps due to the intensity of the orientation week, my prayers were short and not as fervent. So after three days feeling that I should not let the organizers wait too long for an answer I texted him that I could not accept the invitation. I told him that I felt no urging to go and speak at the Conference. Almost immediately I felt a tinge of regret but I cast it aside as human feelings and not be too bothered about turning down one invitation. But the Conference invitation kept tugging and nudging my heart and on Saturday I read Psalm 29,10 that the Lord is enthroned over the flood and straightway I remember my last visit to Nabawan during one of the worst natural disasters to hit Sabah where more than 200 people perished due to floods and strong currents sweeping houses built on riverbanks during Christmas night and early 26th December. I witnessed first hand what it became known as Greg Storm when we drove from Nabawan to Keningau and I saw many people died and not a few clinging on dear life on rooftops and climbed to the top of the trees. I realized I must go back to the place and see for myself how the church is doing.
Since I arrived back at College last Friday I had worked non-stop to get everything ready as College's Chaplain. We are right in the middle of orientation now with six revival meetings (3 more to go) which I have to personally organise, direct and supervise. Thankfully the student council is very efficient and the committee in charge of spirituality is helping me this week and for the rest of the year. As we are a fully residential College, we have Sunday services as well and weekday morning Chapel throughout the week except Wednesdays. On Wednesday we have alternate Faculty morning fellowship and personal devotions and a weekly community lunch with a short prayer together after the community meal. All these fall on the Chaplain to organize, implement and supervise. Whenever a person, faculty or student cannot take his or her assigned duty, the Chaplain stands in and is ever ready.
Today I tried to keep up with my personal goals for 2017. I read 6 chapters of the Greek OT (Torah), the first chapter of each of the five books of Moses. The sixth chapter was the 2nd chapter of Exodus which I just read on in light of the remarkable story of the birth of Moses and his escape to Midian. In it, I came across Moses' marriage and the birth of his first born, Gershom for Moses thought to himself, "Because I am a resident alien in a foreign land." (Exod. 2:22) Tomorrow is the official opening of the new academic year of our Bible College, MTS in Namaus. I will be driving up early (onwards and upwards to Mount Kinabalu, down to Ranau and then another 20 minutes to Namaus/Bongkod village). I will try to get my room cleaned up. I hope to stay in my room for just another week before moving to my new place.
I did not have much energy to plan for 2017 at the end of last year. After much travelling, comes weariness of the flesh and the mind and it took more than a week for me to get up and running and by the time I am awoken it is already 2017 and counting. I thought every year one must set goals and at the end of it reflect and evaluate how these goals are achieved or have fallen short. This year is no different. Last year I could only set short-term goals as I was involved in three different appointments or ministries. It was mostly out of my hand and I had to react the best I can. But this year I hope to settle into a more stable kind of ministry, teaching full-time at College and that means putting time and efforts into delivering lectures on three subjects. Unfortunately I won't be teaching Greek this year as in terms of priority at College now, English is more important than Greek.
It is certainly not without trepidation that I look toward the year ahead. With Russia and China flexing their military might and the new incoming President of the United States, and the state of terrorism in the last few days of 2016 remind us that the world we live in is getting unstable by the year or even by the month. This year's general elections in Germany and France will see how much populism and nationalism have again taken roots and in fact flourish in national and continental politics that will have regional and global repercussions. In Malaysia, the year ended with the currency lowest in 19 years, at RM3.1 to 1SGD. I celebrated New Year's Eve gathering in my homechurch in KK, the first time I attended the church in several months. I wanted to show myself and connect with my church members some of whom I have known fof 28 years and a church I had pastored for more than 5 years. When asked to give year's end testimony, I stood up and proceeded to share for about 12 minutes and testified to God's goodness in three matters. For what God had done in my life and ministry last year I could have spoken for 2 hours. So to make it short and not take up time so that others could also participate, I only shared three things. First God's work in my ministry as pastor of my Ranau church in the first quarter of 2016 and how the church grew solidly and we were looking for a double unit to cater for increased membership over 2 Sunday services when I resigned.
It was intense. I am on my final leg of journeying back to KK with a stopover in Ranau for lunch. I preached my worst sermon last night, my 22nd sermon and last sermon for this Christmas season. I had nothing left in the tank. It was hard going but I managed to plow through Eph 5,1-14 in 50 minutes. The first two sermons lasted an hour each on Matthew 2 and 4 respectively. Yesterday after the Christmas morning service I baptised 7 young men in river Kamaruok in Entilibon. I felt I should do it instead of finding excuses since the great commission includes baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I went into the river bare foot and it has been a few years since I baptised people in a river. Last year at my Ranau church I baptised about 15 youths on 2 occasions in a church baptismal pool. But after 2 months of travelling I am very much looking forward to a long rest without preaching.
Thankfully almost all the villages that I have been to had electricity and power supply. Only once 2 weeks ago in Kemabong a main cable was being repaired and from 10am to about 6pm we had no electricity. But with no ironing services I normally pack as many shirts as I need for the duration of my travels. This time I have to bring six shirts because I will be speaking on 4 occasions over 3 days beginning tonight. And I have been asked to conduct baptism, most likely in Kinabatangan river, the longest river in Sabah, so an extra shirt is called for. On my way back from Entilibon, I shall be stopping over for a wedding of a colleague near Ranau and hence another shirt is warranted. With experience, I always bring an extra shirt just in case of emergency or for whatever eventuality. Since it is Christmas and this time it falls on Sunday it behoves us to wear our Sunday best but this year I have not bought any new shirt for Christmas though I had purchased a couple several months ago in light of my impending travels and itinerant preaching.