Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grown Wings

I almost got my wings clipped. But being free like a bird it is for a little while and now I am flying again. Having not flown for 20 months suddenly I am flying for the 2nd time in 4 days. Destination Hong Kong and Seoul. It is good for the soul for me to be away. Emotions are still raw. Only last night barely a day I left College a couple of students sent heartfelt messages, "we miss you gr". To detach myself from the community I exited the MTS group sooner than I would like as I mentioned in my farewell address I would like to post my Korean photos but last night I decided otherwise.  I needed to be free emotionally to do what I believe what I think God wants me to do. Emotions can be a good thing, love, sadness, fondness but feelings can be ropes that bind thus scripture says, guard your heart with all diligence for from it flows issues of life. My lawyer friend who came up to College recorded my farewell speech in its entirety.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Farewell Address

In barely 3 months, I have to say goodbye twice, first to my Ranau congregations and now to my College community which I have grown extremely fond of. There were no tears as I did not once say goodbye or the word berpisah or perpisahan though it was printed in bold and large letters as backdrop. I am grateful to my faculty colleagues to have held a farewell service for me, even my lawyer friend who came up with me was duly impressed how the service went (photo: my colleagues and staff singing a song for me). He singled out the MC and song leader for special praise. This time I did not say thanks as in the closing service at the end of the last semester a month ago I had thanked everyone who had supported and worked alongside me. This time I spoke about why I chose not to accept my appointment as lecturer.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Soul Searching & Seoul

It has been the most poignant week of my life. Last Monday when I was driving down to KK from Namaus I was pretty certain I would spend the rest of the year at College. Now I am driving back to Namaus to pack my bags and tomorrow I will be back for KK for good, at least until my new appointment (with the Lord). It has been also the most intense soul searching week of my life which the Lord uses all these internal and external pressures to teach me one lesson, a lesson I thought I had learned many years ago, that is God is my employer and my boss and ultimately I am only accountable to Him and Him alone. So I don't see this period as a period of inactivity or unemployment but in the employment of the Lord as one who takes orders from him and go where the Spirit leads. The Elijah passage came to mind several times in Singapore as I prepared my Sunday sermon preached yesterday. Elijah is usually hidden from human interaction but when he appears no one fails to notice him because he is a prophet of fire or prophet by fire.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sadness & Solace

Things happened so quickly that I was glad I could somewhat escape the heat of battle by running off to Singapore for a couple of days. On Wednesday I informed my colleagues I won't be staying on at College and communicated with them throughout the day. On Thursday I broke the news to the student body by writing to a student in the College whatsapp group like Paul to Timothy but meant to be read by all. By night fall as I was preaching in Singapore but messages kept coming in until early hours of Friday morning. Today it reached a peak as students returned to College for the 2nd Semester starting tomorrow with an opening Sunday service.

Between Singapore & Sabah

I have been in Singapore now for 40 hours. A flood of memories came back to me, flowing from Sabah to Singapore and Singapore to Sabah. I had time to reflect in the past 2 days the events of the past 5 months in Sabah. In terms of receptivity of God's Word Singapore is a breath of fresh air. All the friends I contacted did not disappoint and they proved to be a real encouragement to me. I did not have time to put my feet up when I checked into my hotel room as my Anglican friend was already waiting for me to take me to dinner and then brought me to his church for a prayer meeting where I shared God's Word for 30 minutes and prayed with them. Yesterday I met up with 3 close friends within the span of several hours. I was touched by their hospitality and making time and taking efforts in coming to me and making sure I felt welcome in their midst.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Singapore & Seoul

I might have written my previous post one day early, Today was the longest day in my life. I was preoccupied with meeting my HQ leaders and then lunch with my good friend in town. I was supposed to write my two papers in earnest but alas so many things just needed my attention and mentally and emotionally I was too tired to do anything else but reflect on the events of the past couple of days. Indeed the king's heart is turned by the Lord like the waters of a mighty rivers. No one could boast about tomorrow. Yesterday morning when I was driving down from Ranau I was pretty certain about what my next 6 months would look like but within 24 hours, my longest day everything has changed and all are up for grabs. As they say the only certainty is uncertainty and more uncertainty. Perhaps the Lord is testing my faith and like before I had to cast myself unto him for it is good to trust in the Lord and not in princes. Yet I am glad that in the next few days I would have a change of environment. I am heading to Singapore.

The Longest day

For more than a month I have been getting up at 3am or slightly before that. Without TV and slow Internet connection or none at all at times, I go to sleep early say 10pm, thus securing about 5 hours sleep per day. But when I get up this early and if it recurs over weeks it means that something big is happening in my life, like a critical decision, moving countries, changing ministries or giving up something precious for the Lord. Only yesterday at 3pm on the longest day of the year I think I might have the answer to my prayers and weeks of waiting on the Lord in the wee hours of the morning. Eyes have not seen nor heart perceived what God will do for him who waits on Him...for those who wait on the Lord shall not be ashamed. The longest day in the northern hemisphere means the countries north of the equator get the most sun for the year during that particular day. Work while it is still day takes on a poignancy as if God grants extra hours for us to labour in his field. I have done exactly that.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hunger & Sleeplessness

Paul the apostle listed many sufferings he had to endure in his apostleship and mission journeying. Most of which I have no inkling about like prisons, whipping, etc. But I got to know about hunger and sleeplessness. When I was in Long Mio right in the midst of the jungle, I suffered hunger several times. When I reached there with an empty stomach and dinner came only 5 hours later. Before I preached and after I could rarely eat much and thus lose weight.  In my 5 days of intensive module I could not eat much for the pressure of teaching for 6 hours a day. I lost weight. In my busyness travelling and changing from one place to another I sometimes go without food for half a day or longer. I know what it is to be famished. And how often in the past weeks and perhaps months I got up at 3am and sometimes did not catch any sleep until late afternoon even then for 30 mins or so.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Fellowship of the Saints

My delight is in the saints of the land O Lord. How does one unwind after a near not-stop ministry for months? Among the saints of the land. After 5 days of intensive teaching which ended on Friday I took my students to Kundasang and we had a glorious time breathing in the mountain air and taking in the scenic view all round. It's amazing that such a place exists less than 20 minutes' drive from Ranau. Then we proceeded to the Kundasang War Memorial that commemorates the sacrifice of 2,500 soldiers from Austraia and Britain who perished in the Death March from POW Sandakan to Ranau at the end of World War 2. One of our founding missionaries died in that march and it was poignant as we meditated at the lamentation wall (tembok ratapan) at least that's the name given by one of my students.

Friday, June 17, 2016

One Chapter Ends

Today was supposed to be the end of another chapter in my life and ministry. If my term of service were not extended I would have moved out of my room at the end of my MA module which ended this afternoon. The Executive Council came two days ago and chaired a meeting on the proposed academic block of faculty offices and classrooms. They did not say a word about my ministry here at College during the meeting but after the meeting the Vice President took me aside and asked whether I had received the letter of appointment. Communications or slow mails seem to be a problem here with letters sometimes taking weeks rather than days to get to their recipients. But since I am going down to KK next Monday I will head to the HQ office and hopefully the letter is there to be collected. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dynamics of Church Growth

My course on church growth is about to end. I shall be giving two final lectures tonight on signs and wonders and then summing up the dynamics of church growth. For the past 4 days, I have lectured on leadership, the Holy Spirit, prayers, fellowship, charity and this morning on the apostles' message based on Peter's 4 sermons and speeches in Acts 2 to 5. About 20 students are doing it on credit and another 6 of my 4th year BTh students are auditing it and I am pleased that they have attended every session. What makes the early church to grow? There are at least 7 dynamics at work and really all are essential for the growth of the church in numbers and spiritual well being.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Wedding in Singapore

It is likely I shall be making my first trip to Singapore next week in almost 2 years. My former student has invited me to his wedding at a Methodist church, probably the 4th wedding invitation from my Singaporean students in the past 18 months. But this time I am going because this student was one of my closest friends at College. He took most of the electives at TTC and I remember he proudly showed the book on Revelation that I wrote (costs US160.00) which he purchased online. Further, I think there will be many other students present. My last batch of NT 1 students in 2014 have graduated last month and it will be wonderful to see some of them again at the wedding. Jesus probably attended many weddings in his 3 years of ministry besides the one that opened the account in John's Gospel - the famous Cana wedding's miracle of water turned into wine. There is something special about weddings.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The King's Heart is Turned (Proverbs 21:1)

The king's heart is in the hands of the Lord like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wills (Proverbs 21:1). As my preaching season ends for now, my teaching season begins with an MA course on church growth starting this evening until Friday morning. Then it will a hard slog for Seoul's SBL International meeting. I am running out of time to complete two papers accepted for presentation at Yonsei University from 2nd to 7th July. But my heart is turned and is turning as the Lord directs. I can see clearer now where my future lies though it is as if in a mirror darkly. But as the Lord guides He makes clear his will and the path of the righteous shines unto the perfect day. He keeps his mind at peace and nothing will shake him for those who put their trust in the Lord shall not be put to shame.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Preaching Season Ends

I thought my preaching season ended last Sunday. But today unexpectedly I was called upon to preach as we visited the nearest SIB church from the College. I must have preached a longish message on 2 Tim 3,1-5. The topic given to me was the 25 spiritual cancers that kill faith. What a title! I got through about half the list and I took about 55 minutes. But I felt the Spirit strong and I made sure everyone heard what the Lord wanted said to His people. My students presented a hymn, a catchy tune and I think the church appreciated that. Today's service was rather sad and solemn as one church member suffered a serious car accident just near Ranau.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Last Hour

I am just tidying a few things and clearing my desk in my last hour in office. I wrote to a few churches and enclosed the College magazine (May-July 2016). I made sure that the opening service of the College's 2nd Semester was arranged accordingly. There will be sharing and preaching from the incoming Principal, a few items of testimonies in songs (perhaps dance as well). Waiting for the hours and minutes to tick by was not as easy as I thought.

English Club & Books

I preached a sermon last week on "Returning to your First Love" (Rev 2). I realised how difficult it was to preach deep and profound topics such as these but yet it is foundational for Christian life and growth. I must walk the talk. When I was first converted I got up at 4am every morning for 2 months and then perhaps 5am for the first year or so. Now I get up often before 4am to praise and pray to the Lord. I feel the Lord near and I have wonderful time of communion when the tent of the Lord is with me as Job would say. In 7 hours I will relinquish my duties as AP but will remain as lecturer. Besides teaching I will start (by God's grace) English Club & Books (ECB) and praise God that 5 students have signed up.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Getting Work Done Early

Sitting at my office just past 7am this morning I went about continuing my notes on Dynamics of church growth. My office is a small little store room for robes and gowns and other College items. But I managed to make it look like an office with a table and a bookshelf and that's fine with me. If there is not enough space I just put my books in the main shelves out there. Today being my last day in office as Acting Principal I will host a dinner for a few staff and students who have returned early to Campus. It will be about 10 people and I trust it will be a meaningful night for all concerned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Preacher's Pitfall

I did not realize that my voice had changed until two of my friends today asked me what was wrong. After preaching in an intense KKR kebaktian kebangunan rohani (revival meetings) over 3 days of 4 long services and praying for many on the Saturday night I realized my voice took a battering.  Last Sunday service was the longest almost 4 hours long before it ended though I only preached for 30 minutes. Songs and dance took more than 2 hours and speeches besides. I need to recover soon as I just got invited to preach this Sunday in a nearby church from the College.

I am Home (Ezekiel 48:35)

For the first time in my drive back to Namaus, I felt I have finally reached home. I got back at Namaus before 6am having started from KK at 4.08am. And for the first time, I am settled and God's Spirit rested with me. I don't have to live out of suitcases and wonder if I have to move next week or next month. At least for the next half a year I am home - and the Lord is there; Yhwh Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35). Nothing else would give me the inspiration to drive in less than 2 hours in pitch darkness. Like Boaz he arose early hurrying to see how the matter would settle.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New & Old Ministry

It came just as dramatic as when I was first appointed AP. The Deputy President announced it in his closing speech at Long Mio on Sunday that I would be staying on at College as lecturer and i told him that the incoming Principal would take over this Friday. I thank my Deputy President for accompanying me for the whole journey of 3 days to and fro Long Mio and we enjoyed wonderful fellowship and travelling together. It was a remarkable gesture because he only gave a 10 min speech but stayed back and listened to me preached 4 times. I am touched by his humility and servant attitude and example which he showed in great abundance.

Monday, June 6, 2016

To the Ends of the Earth, Long Mio & Long Pasia

I have this amazing experience of going into the ends of the earth as far as the State of Sabah, North Borneo is concerned. It was a tough 3 day trip to Long Mio the 2nd last village at the border of Sarawak and Indonesia and  I went to Long Pasia twice at the ends of the earth. The Long Mio village is small with only 20 houses but Long Pasia is the more famous sibling with at least 70 or 80 houses most of which are like mansions. There are several home stays and a chalet which cater for regular tourists visiting the place. But the journey from KK to Long Mio is the longest I have undertaken thus far, all 7 hours with the 3.5 hours on gravel and sometimes muddy timber tracks.  By the time I reached there I was famished but dinner was set for 6pm. How I could preach the first night only God knows and He had granted his servant strength. I preached better than I thought at least for the first of 4 sessions and after a 3.30 am wake up and travelling besides. The next morning I was fresher but the change of environment with the toilet outside the church house without electricity was a test of physical and emotional edurance. The temperatures in the morning is a cool 16 degrees but I was warned to bring warm clothing.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Staying Put

After 3 days of immense struggle in my mind and soul, in prayers and waiting on the Lord I have decided to stay put in Sabah for another year. News from Singapore put me off track for a couple of days but I quickly realized that it is not the time for me to consider serving there. There is much work to do here. My students and colleagues have become a family and you don't leave your beloved in a whim or on human impulses. I have decided to throw the dice in the land below the wind, the lands of mountains and rivers. Today I will be crossing several major rivers in the south-west of Sabah heading to my destination. For the last 3 hours of the journey it is on muddy timber tracks but two days without rain must have hardened the ground a fair bit. It has been raining in Sabah for the past week but I cried to the Lord that from yesterday there should be no rain until I return late Sunday night. There is much to do.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

010616

Today is the beginning of the 6th month, almost half a year is past. In the past 3 months I have concluded two ministries, my Ranau pastorate in early March and now my appointment as Acting Principal of our Bible College. In 5 months much has been done and there will be 7 more months before the end of the year. I can't wait for my Long Mio meeting this Friday weekend so that when it is finished I will head back to College to hand over my duties to the incoming Principal. They will probably have to locate a space for me somewhere if I should stay on as lecturer. My books alone will occupy some space.

I will Wake up the Dawn

I have such a sense of joy and hope when I awoke this morning. In dishonour and in honour we serve the Lord. How true that we put not our trust in princes but in the Lord, the Prince of princes. Psalm 92, 127, 120 and many more become my reading predawn.  Lord I will wake up the dawn. I will sing to you Lord for you have done great things in my life. You have not allowed my enemies to rejoice over me. Lord you will bless Sabah, you will bless Kota Kinabalu you will bless SIB.

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