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.

By 12 noon we were back in Ranau and had lunch at the Hakka Food Court before heading back to the Campus. Night time was uneventful and I made another trip to Ranau for dinner. But as I saw the church gate opened I enquired with one church member whether the usual Saturday night rehearsal was on. Yes indeed and for the first time since early March I went back to the church I pastored for 15 months in Ranau.

This morning we headed to Ranau early and enjoyed noodles with fried pork at one of the restaurants. As I stepped up the church stairs my heart beat faster but I pretended that it was another usual Sunday. How could that be anything but usual since I poured out life and soul in an intense pastorate that saw the church grew almost by 100 members with the first service packed to the brim at 250 and another 120 or more in the 2nd service? Today the students filled the hall but it was not full as when I was pastor.


The second service was almost full as it was Fathers' Day and families were encouraged to attend the 2nd service with a Father's Day lunch and many gifts besides. I almost went back after the 1st service. I was not as alert even at 10am as I got up before 3am and could not really sleep again despite trying to do so at 5am. But one of the elders came down and called me as we drank at a coffee house. In view of his gray hairs and seniority I relented and went up again to the church. The former KK mayor was there and thankfully the sermon was only 30 minutes as it was tough for me to stay focused. The worship was great and it somewhat relieved a bit of my weariness accummulated over the past fortnight. At the Father's Day events began to unfold I got a call from my phalet and it was from a Singaporean church asking me to preach next Sunday since they knew I was going to be in town. I quickly accepted as it was only one service and I thought it would be great to catch up with friends again in that church. As we rushed down the stairs wanting to get to my car, my friend Mayor's wife asked me to join her and husband for a coffee nearby. That was the last thing I wanted to do as I was hoping to catch some sleep but again I relented in case I could be of service to them. My students patiently followed their teacher without the slightest murmur and we went for a second lunch cum coffee in another restaurant in Ranau town. Indeed later my student commented that it was God's will that we attended the 2nd service or else I would not have met up with the former KK Mayor. It turned out that the Mayor and his wife visited our College Campus last Sunday when I was out and knowing that I had been living in a room for the past few months they offered to renovate one of the vacant College's house. That was very generous as it will cost more than a few bucks to make it fit for habitation.

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