Thursday, December 31, 2015

1 Year is Up

The newspapers proprietor in Ranau town greeted me this morning, "Pastor Tony you have been here in Ranau, one year so fast...". At least someone noticed. With that my one year in Ranau is up. I arrived in Ranau exactly one year ago at 7.30 am to take up my new appointment as pastor of SIB Muhibbah. Tonight I shall be preaching the end of the year and New Year's message, probably close to my 100th sermon in church including Wednesday mid-week services and other preaching assignments elsewhere. It has been a good run. Two days ago, I went from house to house and conducted two services before rushing back to church for the Tuesday prayer meeting. At one meeting on the occasion of a girl turning 12, I preached about the 3 daughters of Job when the Lord restored him and lo and behold the birthday cake has 3 beautiful ladies and I remarked that these must be Job's three daughters to the laughter of many. What can I say?
Most things have happened without much planning on my part. The five weekly services that could burn out any pastor if one is not careful. In 2016, I will take less mid-week preaching and I may start to repeat my sermons on alternate services. I don't see myself repeating what I have done this year despite God's enabling power throughout. There are several positives to take to the New Year.

First, the response of church members has been greatly encouraging. My church members are mostly Kadazan-Dusun tribe. After 5 or 6 months, they have accepted me as their pastor. It took a while to warm up but by May and certainly after the earthquake on June 5th, no one in church doubt who the leader of the flock was. I was given a boost when the Women's Ministry threw me a birthday party in church, a first in my life. With that I had reached the conclusion of my Jubilee year, my 51st year. The church has grown and now the first service with students often exceeds 200 adults and the 2nd service is getting filled up as well.

Second, I learned the meaning of patience. There are many things lacking when I first moved in. I had spent my own money whenever I felt I could. The canopy garage for my car was finally up on 1st August. It was more than 2 months after the earthquake that a water tank was fixed in the pastor's house. I learned to find and carry water for washing and bathing, and even now drinking water is from bottled mineral water purchased from shops. The earth keeps shaking. There were tremors on Christmas Day (3.3) and yesterday morning (3.2) and chips of cement fell from the edge of my room door near where I lay. No one should rest on its laurels.

Third, pastoring work is laborious, praying and counselling others, listening, talking, preaching, home visitations, more home groups, and business meetings with other church leaders. So far the bonds of unity are kept in the Holy Spirit but it is work in progress. It is up the to the pastor and leading elders to take the lead and show by example.

Fourth, I have been able to take several out of town invitations. The HQ invited me twice, once preaching for a Prayer Conference and then Men's Conference. Several districts invited me for revival meetings but I only managed to take up a few towards the end of the year in Keningau, Nahaba and Muruk.

Fifth, I received a call from the SIB Vice-President three weeks ago hinting strongly there would be some new assignments for me in the New Year. So far I have not received any formal notification, so I shall be pressing on but as my life and ministry has unfolded this year, I will be not be surprised that I will find 2016 also full of surprises in the Lord.

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