Friday, December 29, 2017

A Year that Was

I suppose with less than 3 days before the year ends I could now afford myself some luxury to reflect on  the year that was. For once it has been the most mundane and ordinary of my three years back in full time ministry in Sabah. Not that it is bad because a measure of predictability and routine is good for blood pressure and health. Speaking of health I thank the Lord that the start of the year I saw myself falling sick twice in February and then in Salarom Taka Pensiangan. No fun driving 5 hours and preached straight away in an afternoon session in a hot building with the mercury inside close to 40 degree Celsius. I got sick but there was always a silver lining behind the gloom as I visited a clinic in the interior and waited about 3 hours to get a few aspirins like the rest of the villagers in Sapulut. My pastor friend told me that she had to wait for the mobile clinic fortnightly to come calling. It was good to mix with the lowly and at the clinic the sister in charge called me pastor and asked to take a photograph with me and wife (she knew me from preaching in her village 20 years ago). I had no inkling that in the remotest of villages people recognised me. Again my faithful wife was with me. O what would I do without her by my side. She had been with me for at least 80 percent of my travels. As I had gotten sick in mid-March I decided to callthe  three churches that invited me to preach Good Friday weekend and KKR early April and declined at invitation to Beluran. Sometimes ill health is a good sign so that we know our limitations and our human frailty. But praise be to God after that bout of sickness I was in the pink of health for the rest of the year, concluding my Christmas preaching without wear and tear except tiredness and sore limbs.
So for six weeks from April to mid-May I focused on my 3 papers for the second half of the 1st semester. I taught John’s Gospel to year 2, NT theology to year 4 and a mixed class for advance English, a course title given by the academic Dean but in fact it was a basic course just set apart from those who know no English at all. I remember God’s grace after the first lectures on a Wednesday night late January a Singaporean friend texted me and told me she would be gifting an Ang pow. I testified of that gift last August 7 months after the fact and the next Monday the same person gave me another Ang pow. I learned from that God’s goodness must be witnessed to and his name be glorified by his saints and he will multiply even more.

When I got back to KK mid-May for my one month Semester break I got a call from my HQ that I would be a speaker in the early June Pastors’ Conference and for the rest of the 3 weeks I did nothing but prayed and wrote up to 8000 words for my 2 sermons. It was very well received in light of the fact that the other speaker who also spoke twice was a well known Indonesian preacher. God is no respecter of men. July was also a busy month with my three courses in full flight by then. I also spoke at a Men’s Conference in Kota Belud and taught a MA’s module on the theology of the church. When I got back to College my home group and half the student body showed up to give me a surprise birthday party. For that gesture alone it was worth all my while travelling back and forth from KK to Namaus. At the end of June I also spoke at an elders’ seminar for eldership candidates and for the first time in recent memory our church’s constitution was given 2 full sessions and several months after that in another remote village two men who attended my talks came up to me and thanked me.

July was certainly a busy month as I attended a theological consultation in Malang near Surabaya. Again a surprise came calling. My former MTh student who is a lecturer there called out during a tour of the College’s auditorium and he gave me a warm hug. It is always good that your former students remember you well. October was the last teaching month. I gave an end time seminar in a nearby village where 85 villagers turned up with about 10 people from outside including some as far as KK and Kota Belud. November was a month of contrasts. From the high of my Labuan KKR preaching I returned to College for the graduation that would be remembered as the longest ever - 3.5 hours in a hall without air conditioning. I almost died of heat I told a congregation when I preached the following day. Again my prayers are that as we enter 2018 God will put the right people into leadership because leaders lead and make things happen for the glory of God.

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