Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Truly Indigenous Service?

In my 26 years as an SIB member, it was my first time experiencing an entire praise and worship in Dusun songs with one song in Murut. So for 45 mins I stood and clapped and occasionally danced to tunes and lyrics that I understood not. My friend and principal of the Bible College perhaps took pity on me and interpreted a stanza or two. I prayed for the gift of interpretation of tongues but none was forthcoming.  I was bemused why the song leader chose all Dusun songs since the guest of honour for the night was none other than our Vice President from the Lundayeh tribe. He probably knew more Dusun than me but not much more. As one of the main speakers of the seminar that day, in fact I opened the seminar with a key note lecture on the Function, Duty and Responsibility of Elders in the Church to 87 elders and deacons.
I gave 5 main points with each man point having 4 to 10 subpoints. I took 65 mins to deliver my lecture just 5 mins longer than the alloted time. It was a great church sacrament seminar with 5 topics besides the key note address, first dedication of children, second water baptism, third, engagement and marriage, fourth Holy communion and finally, burial rites and ceremony. Really it was a cradle to grave theology and I must congratulate the District council and the Pekan church for organizing the seminar. But I am still wondering why the night closing service was conducted the way it was. I trust it is not tribal racism at play. I had fought hard against any form of racism in church and it is not so easy within a largely indigenous church to break from its own tribes and reach out to other races and communities. The tribal mentality is one of the strongest to break, a stronghold really if one is not careful when other non indigenous groups are left out. I am a true believer of a multiracial church and there is no better place than in Malaysia and in Sabah to project a truly multiracial church united by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even in Ranau, there are many foreigners, Filipinos and Indonesians not to mention several Malay subgroups. That's why the national language, Malay is still largely used in SIB churches so that all Malaysians who are conversant with the Malay language can hear the Word of God preached. But last night I was left dry for how can I worship when for 45 mins I sang songs that are foreign to me, without understanding is like speaking in tongues without interpretation.

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