Monday, December 5, 2022

Joyful & Sorrowful Reunion

It was a joyous occasion and it was a sorrowful event. It was a kind of reunion of my former church which I pastored for nearly two years before the vaccine mandate put a stop to the pastorate. The chairman texted the invitation and it was hard to refuse. Quite a few leaders still follow my status updates and also Instagram. I could not reject such an overture. So I went with my wife and it was a joyous occasion. I was seated in the main table with all the elders, all four of them, all of whom walked hand in hand during the difficult 22 months of pandemic ministry.

I even called myself "pastor pandemic" after Jeremiah 17 where the prophet said that he had not run away from being a shepherd, neither did he run away from the woeful day." On the basis of this verse, I turned down an offer from Seminary September 2021, just two months before I had to leave the church. This offer pays well and does not require me to leave the State of Sabah. 

When the pastor who preached two Sunday ago joked about my presence and that his sermon would be a doctoral defence of his thesis, I told him later when asked by him that in my 6 years in Singapore, I had failed two doctoral candidates. I would not want to put my name down as the supervisor if I don't honestly believe the candidate has reached the standard required of a doctorate. 

Yet last night's Christmas celebration was also sorrowful. Not even all the books I brought were sold to all four elders and few more booked as I only brought five copies on request managed to soothe the sorrow I felt. Just like the 6 months of Acting Principalship in Ranau. I was stopped in mid-track and everything went back to square one when I left the post. Although it was more than 6 years ago, when a member of the College's Board spoke with me during the AGM 10 days ago, he mentioned how much the students were burdened with too many courses and credits, even at the Diploma level. I could still feel the sting of what if, only if proper leadership were in place.

Just as in the former church which I could surely boast in the Lord. Many churches were closed due to fear and lack of members coming when they were opened. My church (it is the Lord's church) when it was opened was always full within weeks. Three weeks in a row in May 2021 we had to ask people to watch online as there were not enough seats for them due to capacity restrictions. My members certainly responded to their pastor's example of faith. We believed in God's protection as we cried out to Him day and night and I was not in the slightest discomfort for more than 3 years straight which never happened in my life before. When the pandemic was at its height I was at my healthiest, I walked as if on the clouds borne by the Spirit and climbed over walls. It was through God that we did valiantly. Many hid in caves like Saul and his soldiers but David came forward to fight with Goliath and slain him. Even now there are many Goliaths in the church, those who have a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. 

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