I drove up to my former College at 5.30am last Saturday stopping over at Tamparuli to have breakfast. I saw that the College advertised its convocation starting at 8am and I was determined to get there before that just I had for 3 full years for the 7.50am Chapel start. But somewhat not everything went according to plan as for the first time my pick up broke down just a few kilometres from Mount Kinabalu. I stopped over a shop for a while and sought help. I knocked on the door of a village shop and must have startled the owners at 7.15am. He helped check my car and determined that it was the turbo problem but I could still drive car slowly to Kundasang or Ranau to get to a workshop. So I drove about 40kms an hour for about 20kms and the engine was making strange noises every time I tried to step on the accelerator. I arrived at Ranau bustop and parked my car there at 8.15am. I had stopped by at a workshop that could fix turbo problems but the shop only opened at 9am. I wanted to attend the College’s graduation so I decided to take my chances and would return to the workshop to sort out my car after the Convocation at noon.
When I was waiting at a Ranau shop I saw my student commented on my status update on my Tamparuli breakfast. I took that as a sign and I texted him to tell him I was in Ranau and my car had broken down. As he was one of the graduating students he called another student and he texted me and within 30 minutes he came to Ranau town to fetch me. I gave thanks to God for my students’ help in the time of need. But for about an hour I prayed to the Lord whether I made a mistake in going to the College. I had left it for good last January and was the Lord angry that I returned to the place that I had left? It is not that I am going there for anything except to attend my students’ graduation. Both Bachelor and Diploma graduates whom I had taught over 3 or 4 years previously and I thought my attendance would bring closure to the time of my ministry in the College.
After struggling in quiet prayers, I was determined to attend despite my car having some engine troubles. Paul the apostle was not hindered by ship wreck and other obstacles in his missionary journeys and I was amazed that for 49 months driving up and down Ranau to KK I never had any car problem except once my brake pads were completed worn out when I reached Ranau. Even on that occasion it was by the grace of God that I made it safely and it would be dangerous to drive without good brakes up and down the winding mountain roads.
When I was about to get into my student’s car I received a text from another student telling me that the event had not started as they were still waiting for the HQ leader to arrive and officiate in the graduation. So I was mighty relieved that I did not miss much when I arrived at the College at 9.25am. The opening speech was just starting and then the preaching followed. I knew why the Lord had caused a delay. Perhaps it would not be too good for me to arrive too early. I did not want to draw attention to myself. I was not invited and I came as an ordinary church member as every graduation ceremony is open to all church members. I sat at the back and for the first time in 5 years I truly enjoyed the service. Five years ago I was the preacher and the next three as faculty I had to sit in front with my academic regalia. I felt a mighty sense of relief that I went in incognito. One staff came to me and asked whether I wanted to be seated in front and I politely declined.
The preacher preached a message that spoke to me heart. I knew the Lord wanted me to hear the sermon. His refrain was that “do not give up on your dreams” based on the life of Joseph. After 10 months without news of my next appointment I could have concluded perhaps I am no longer needed or wanted, but strangely the message confirmed in my heart to stay put and wait out this time. Just a day before that I received a surprised invitation to speak at two Christmas services down south. It seems that for me in the past 6 months I had to travel north and south back and forth and the ministry demands are only getting heavier by the week even in my long sabbatical.