Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Revival in Remote Rural Ranau?

If my reading of early and modern church history is right, it is only when revivals happen that one gets to preach 4 or 5 times a week. I have been averaging that for the past 3 months and there is no end in sight. If truly a revival is taking place then I should be glad and rejoice. But it is hard to say. It could be an outcome of a traditional rural church having multiple services, at least 3 or 4 times a week and when there are special services like wakes, funerals and family celebrations then it could be as many as 5 or 6 times a week. With a double Sunday service it has become a herculean task for me just to be ready to preach. How am I coping?
Thanks be to God my health is holding up but by Sunday afternoon I am usually so exhausted that I would sleep until late evening and then go out for dinner or supper. Yesterday was a typical Sunday when after preaching in the first service, I interviewed 7 baptismal candidates until 11.45am and rushed back to church. The 2nd service had just concluded so I grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to office where the finance com meeting was to start at 12.30pm. It started at 1pm and ended 5 mins before 4pm. In the midst of scouring for water for the past 6 days I had preached 5 sermons in 5 days. As soon as the meeting ended, I decided to drive to KK. I got ready by 4.30pm and I was glad that an elder accompanied me on my trip to KK and the sweet fellowship and conversation at least kept me awake and less anxious. I reached my KK home at 6.30pm and for the first time in a week I had a nice home cooked meal with my wife.

Some months before I started ministry again, I wrote a book tentatively titled as memoirs of a modern missionary. Now I am thinking of naming it memoirs of a reluctant missionary. I would not feel as if I had betrayed my calling if I should leave Malaysia again, not since Ringgit had fallen below 3.9 mark. Like the patriarchs of old, often they had to move when famine struck their land. They lived in tents, dwelling in foreign lands, as Jacob testified before Pharaoh, "the years of my wanderings are..." Where shall I journey next Lord? There is so much work yet to be done here. Moses had to wait for 40 years before his real mission began and Hebrews says that by faith Moses despised the riches of Egypt and chose instead to suffer the afflictions of God's people.

In every analogy of faith there will be the likes where the analogy works but as in any analogy not everything holds true. Singapore could be both the Egypt of Moses' days and also the Egypt of Jacob's days. In the former case, it was an Egypt that despised foreigners and ultimately abused them. In an earlier Egpyt, Jacob's family was kept alive due to the benevolence of Pharaoh. God's people could thrive in Singapore because of a good Pharaoh. A nation could be full of contradictions. On the one hand, it could welcome foreigners especially those with talents but on the other hand it could veer towards xenophobia as foreigners are treated no more than as utility. The moment they are no longer useful, out they go. Humanitarianism and compassion are rarely applied when it comes to foreign workers. Similarly, Malaysia is also full of contradictions. So sad to see a nation full of potential and filled with talents falling apart due to bad governance and self seeking politicians.

On Sunday I kept to my promise of praying for Singapore in her SG50 National day. I also used Singapore as my example preaching on the text seeking glory and honour (Rom 2,7). I told my church that Singapore became what it is now because of leaders who hated corruption and quick to punish the wrong doers. I told my church I never experienced a single power outage or lack of water supply in Singapore. Perhaps it was not an apt analogy comparing ultra modern Singapore with remote rural Ranau but I thought at least I made the point that Malaysia and Sabah in particular deserves a better future for ourselves and our children.

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