Wesley Golden Jubilee

To God be the Glory

In the News – The Borneo Post

Wesley in the news – The Borneo Post

Be forward-looking, Wesleyans told
By Gaing Kunding

Celebrate golden jubilee this year with faith and compassion: Bishop

SIBU: Bishop of Methodist Churches in Malaysia Reverend Dr Hwa Yung has called on all parishioners of the Wesley Methodist Church Sibu to continue to be forward-looking, faithful and compassionate as they celebrate their golden jubilee this year.

Besides praying and embracing the Word of God in the Bible, he also reminded all Wesleyans to remember the words of John Wesley: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can and as long as you ever can.”

Rev Hwa made the remark when he spoke at the 50th Anniversary Thanksgiving Dinner of Wesley Methodist Church Sibu held in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee celebration of Wesley Methodist Church (1958 – 2008 ) at the civic centre here last Saturday.

The theme of the celebration was ‘To God be the Glory’.

In her welcoming speech, organising chairperson of the celebration who is also the principal of Methodist Pilley Institute here, Judy Wong said the dinner and celebration was also a homecoming ceremony as many of the church’s former missionaries, former pastors and former Wesleyans had returned from abroad and other places in the country to mark the one-week event from April 30 to May 4.

“Four of them are former missionaries from the UK, and three from the US, who are here together with their spouses. They are such a fun group.

“Their laughter, enthusiasm, humour, their love for life and for God, being so sporting, has lifted our spirit and made many of us feel young again,” Wong said as she introduced each one to the audience.

Also present at the dinner were 15 representatives from four nearby Iban longhouses that Wesley Methodist Church has adopted.

The past pastors from overseas were Rev David MacDonald and wife, Rev Geoffrey Senior and wife, Rev Philip Williams and wife, Rev Chris Tomlinson and wife, Rev Jim Hopkins and wife, Rev Jim Brinks and wife, and Rev Lionel Muthiah and wife.

The president of Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference (SCAC) Rev Dr Su Chii Ann, Bishop Emeritus Datuk Dr Peter Chio, SCAC secretary general Ting Kong Siin, lay leaders Hii Ching Chiong and Chang Jih-Ren, Rev Kong Chong Ling and wife, Pastor-in-charge Rev Dr Tiong Chung Tiing, and past missionaries – John Vas and wife Sandy Davis, Gail Pilley-Harris, Jackie Fries and Sandy Berg were also present at the dinner.

Also present were past local pastors including Rev Wong Kah Nguon and wife, Rev Dr Khoo Ho Peng and wife, Rev Dr Tie King Tai and wife, Rev Dr Lau Hui Ming and wife, Rev Hoo Sing Hang and wife, and Rev Tai Sing Leh.

There were also a CD presentation each on the history of Wesley Methodist Church, and were entertained by individuals as well as by the Boys’ Brigade First Company Sibu band.


May 25, 2008 Posted by | Celebrations | Leave a comment

In the news – The Connection

The Golden Jubilee Celebrations in The Connection.


Over 20 former missionaries and their spouses came from different parts of the world to attend the Golden Jubilee of Wesley Methodist Church (WMC), Sibu, which was celebrated from 30 April to 4 May 2008. On 2 May, Methodist Theological School (MTS) has the honour to have Rev. Geoffrey Senior (second missionary pastor of WMC and lecturer of MTS from 1959-1962) to speak in their school chapel.
Standing at the same pulpit he preached years ago, Senior said, “Fifty years ago this day (2 May), we set off from England with our 3-month-old daughter to Sibu. I learned the Chinese language with 2 teachers. I used to be able to preach and teach in Chinese but I am afraid I cannot do it now.” The Seniors spent four years in Sibu. They were then posted to Medan, Indonesia and later, Hong Kong. After that, they were back to London to pastor at different churches until their retirement 14 years ago.
“Wherever we are in this world, we always feel at home in the family of God’s people. And we always have a gospel of reconciliation in Jesus Christ to preach. Back then, WMC was a multi-racial and multi-national church, members were from different parts of the world. I particularly enjoyed the time of administering the Holy Communion because we were indeed one in Christ.” Senior reminded us that our Lord can bring down the barrier between people.
At the end of the chapel, Rev. Geoffrey Senior blessed the MTS community on the pulpit in his beautifully spoken Chinese. (Winnie)

An Early History of Wesley Church

Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu, came into being out of a need for Christian worship service conducted in the English Language. It officially began on 5 May 1958 when 19 Methodists and 9 Christians from other denominations under the leadership of a Methodist missionary, Rev. David Macdonald, met in the MTS Chapel to inaugurate a regular English worship service.
Most of the worshippers were missionaries (and their families) who served in the local churches which used various local languages and dialects. They felt the need for fellowship and worship in their own language, and a Sunday school for their children.
The Church grew steadily in importance and number under the capable and dedicated leadership of Rev. David Macdonald (1958-1959); Rev. Geoffrey Senior (1959-1962); Rev. Roy Aylott (1963); Rev. Philip Williams (1962-1965); Rev. James Hipkins (1965-1967); Rev. Chris Tomlinson (1967-1969); Rev David Chiew (1969).
All those years, the serving pastors served only on a part-time basis and it was not until 1970 that Rev. Jim Brinks was appointed the first full-time missionary pastor. More and more local residents joined as full members and regular worshippers as greater outreach was made. This period also saw the further reduction of foreign missionaries to Sarawak.
In December 1976, the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference appointed Rev. Peter Chuo to succeed Rev. Muthiah, and so the first Sunday in Jan 1977 saw the first full-time local pastor step unto Wesley’s pulpit. By that time, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Shields were the last missionary members of Wesley Church. After they left in October 1978, Wesley Church completed its transition from an English worship service catering for missionary families to providing services for local residents. (Excerpt from “Wesley Methodist Church, Sibu: A Historical Perspective” by Judy Wong)

May 25, 2008 Posted by | Celebrations | Leave a comment

In the news – 卫理报

This is an account of the Wesley Jubilee Celebrations reported in The Chinese Methodist Message dated 18th May 2008




赞美之夜于5月2日假诗巫卫斯理堂举行。Rev. David MacDonald在台上分享他如何在祷告中,上帝给了他一首歌,做为庆典的主题曲。MacDonald是卫斯理堂首位牧师。在他之前,卫斯理堂只是一个黄昏祷告小组,参与者主要是当时外籍宣教士、政府人员与家眷。
Rev. Jim Brinks上台分享时说到,他于1969年踏足诗巫。当他与家人踏上这片土地时,他们有踏上天家的感觉。他形容在诗巫的短短几年,是他人生的高峰期。他很高兴看到卫斯理堂有不同的服事和事工。

5月3日(星期六)晚上,卫斯理堂在民众会堂筵开110席,庆祝上帝过去五十年来的带领。感恩宴之前,举行了一个隆重的男少年军检阅仪式,由华勇会督和诗巫第一位男少年军军官(BB Captain)Rev. Chris Tomlinson检阅。Rev. Tomlinson回忆他以前在诗巫牧会时,祷告寻求该如何帮功这里很多的男孩。因他在英国曾是男少年军的队员,他想也许可以让这里的男孩子参加男少年军。于是在1967年开始了男少年军事工。第一次的聚会共有36位男少年军参加。现在诗巫男少年军第一团共有差不多600位的少年人,是全马来西亚最大的少年团。
晚宴在既温馨又欢乐的气氛中渡过。卫斯理堂的现任牧师张宗忠牧师说这宴会是天上宴席的一个浅尝。苏慈安会长肯定卫斯理堂领导人的能力,并称赞卫斯理堂的弟兄姐妹是“good people”。华勇会督勉励50岁的卫斯理堂不要“退休”,反而要更加努力,且应该是更有果效的时候。

当晚有八位男少年军的队员和两位军官从Rev. Chris Tom-linson手中接过勋章和礼物。对这些男孩来说,是人生中只有一次的机会。


在缅怀过去中,每一位宣教士都分享了一部份他们在诗巫的经历,既温馨又带欢笑。他们分别是Rev. David MacDonald、Rev. Geoffry Senior、 Re. Philip Williams、Rev. Jim Hipkins、Rev. Chris Tomlinson、Rev. Jim Brinks、Rev. Lionel Muthiah,荣誉会督朱新进博士也在其中分享。他是在“宣教士牧养时代”结束后的第一位本地牧者。朱博士说到当年宣教士逐渐离开,聚会人数下降。他有两个选择,一是关闭,一是继续奋兴教会。感谢神,当年的朱博士没有选第一条路,不然也不会有今天的卫斯理堂了。




会督用他的一个经历带出一个属灵功课。之前,他在沙巴与林厚武会长去深海钓鱼,这是他第一次的钓鱼经历。他们一整天才钓到几条一公斤多的鱼。对善于深海钓鱼的人来说,这些是小鱼(ikan bilis)。后来,会督先行睡觉,林会长却继续奋斗,但一夜未有所获。会督醒来,看见如斯情况,便提出祷告。他向神求大鱼,以验证神的恩典与临在。不出 20分钟,他的鱼竿被扯弯成90度。旁边的人立刻上前帮忙,挣扎了一阵子,一条重达30磅的石斑鱼上钩了。对一个“初哥”来说,这是“神迹”。


May 25, 2008 Posted by | Celebrations | Leave a comment

Happy Anniversary/Reunion: A reflection

By Judy Wong

Dear Pastors and Wesleyans,

It has been a week since we celebrated our Golden Jubilee, especially with the Thanksgiving Dinner on 3 May and the Thanksgiving Services on 4 May,2008, culminating in the opening of our Archives Center after the 5 pm service.

Judy & Bishop
A gift for you – from Wesley to Bishop Rev Dr Hwa Yung

Many of you have been so encouraging in giving very kind remarks regarding the efforts put in by the organizing committee.

Quite a few have said, “You must be exhausted!” Remember my reply?

“Yes. This time it’s really Heck-kao-bear-leng-kao ( in Foochow)!”

What does that mean? What I meant was that I was truly exhausted and overwhelmed. There were indeed so many aspects to look into. But it’s been worth every ounce of my effort and the efforts of many others who had worked so hard to ensure the smooth preparation and running of all the events and programs. This includes those who worked tirelessly and quietly in arranging and providing transportation for our guests throughout the whole week.

On the bus
The transportation team at work

Thank you and thank you ALL again.

Well, how do I feel now? —–Still getting over how amazing and wonderful it has been! God has been so good and gracious to us during the whole week, including the fine weather we had. The special feeling began when I first got to meet some of our former pastors and missionaries at the staircase of New Capitol restaurant on 29 April at 7 pm. One of the unforgettable remarks was when Sandy Davis gave me a hug and said “Do I know you before? I used to be Sandy McCaig.” Well, what can I say? The Sandy that I saw and remembered was 48 years ago. At the first instance some of them really looked like strangers to me.

After all were seated, I continued to steal many looks at all of them as I tried to recapture/recall what my mind was used to and unconsciously hoped to see. It took a while for my mind to compute before I knew for sure who was who. While eating, I began to enjoy and reap the harvest of all the hard work. I kept marveling at their excitement and exclamations such as “You were there too in 1961?” “Remember that time when — “, “Was it ’62 or ‘63? “. “Oh, yes I helped play the piano together with David Johnson in the production of the musical Carousel or was it the Gypsy Byron?’ “Who was the main character?” “Where is Maimunah now?”

Wow, they were reconnecting, and for some, after almost 50 years. The REUNION had begun!

Dear pastors and friends, in my welcoming remark I had hoped that your “Homecoming” would be a memorable one. Indeed it has been. We could all see and feel how much you all enjoyed the various places you visited, and the food you tasted, including durians (hopefully the taste and smell would last a would last a long time). Our apologies though for packing in such tight schedules, sometimes giving you enough time only to take a bath before the next event. Our excuse is, it’s Sibu hospitality!

durian eating time
Sharing over durians at Judy’s house

Much as you had been thrilled and blessed to see the progress of our church and SCAC as a whole, we have been the beneficiaries again. Your sharing especially during the Forum will long be remembered. Many Wesleyans who never knew you before shared how much they enjoyed and learned from the Forum and they understood the bonding. Even though the “boy with the missing shoe” stole the show, your group rendition of “And Are We Yet Still Alive!” was most touching.

Judy, MY & Jo
Judy, Rev & Mrs Lionel Muthiah & Joseph Yao at the Archive Centre

As for former Wesleyans who came from far and near, we treasure your presence. Thanks for taking time and making efforts to come. It was such a surprise to see Mrs. Teo. Besides those who came back from US, Australia and different parts of Sarawak, I also found out after dinner that Roselyn (Toh) came all the way from Dubai.

Well, all good things must come to an end. To all Wesleyans at home, thank you one and all for your support and participation. Let us continue to be committed in our service to God through WMC. If and when we do go down the valley, let us be united and uphold one another so that we can climb the next mountain top together!

Group photo with WSK
A group photo taken at Dato Sri and Datin Wong Soon Koh’s residence

May 11, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Our Jubilee Song

We have all sung the Wesley Jubilee Song. Wesleyans who were at the Praise Night heard Rev David MacDonald sharing the “birth” of the song. Rev David MacDonald shared,

Rev Macdonald singing
The song and the song writer

A few weeks ago whilst beginning my own preparations for the 7.30am service, a hymn tune came
into my mind which I remember singing when I was minister at Wesley 50 years ago.

The words I believe were – Joyful, joyful we adore Thee and the tune was from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony ‘Ode to Joy’. I notice the tune is also in Mission Praise no 600.

It seems to go well with the tune and I would very much like to dedicate to Wesley Church.

Now, listen and meditate on the words while our Evening Choir singing our Jubilee Song –

On this day of celebration,
We would offer thanks and praise
For the way that God has led us,
Guiding us throughout our days.
We have seen His sovereign purpose
In the coming of His Son
Jesus, ‘Word made flesh’ among us,
Reconciling all in one.

Help us to proclaim His Gospel,
Telling of amazing grace,
Seeing love expressed in suffering
On the Cross – to save our race.
Now we know death could not hold him,
He arose to set us free,
Here in majesty and splendour
Jesus reigns in victory.

Holy Spirit, source of power,
Working with God’s people still,
Changing lives and old directions
Teaching us to know his will.
Now equip us for his purpose,
Share the gifts which you inspire,
Now let Pentecost renewal
Come on us like wind and fire.

Tune [‘Hymn to Joy’ Beethoven’s 9th]

[David H MacDonald 2008]

May 11, 2008 Posted by | Celebrations | 1 Comment

Reflecting the Present, Reckoning the Future

words & photos: phylliswong

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
Prov 16:9

It was a “Forum”. Just another one? But a “Forum” with three “R”s – Remembering the Past, Reflecting the Present, Reckoning the Future – is not easy to come by. A “Forum” sharing the journey of faith of pastors of five decades comes only once in fifty years!

I was there. If I could sum up in my own way of the journey, I would do it this way –

When we walk the lonely road, He will be our constant companion.
When we scale the mountain, He will not let our feet slip.
When we walk the valley of darkness, He will be our guiding light.
When we choose the narrow path, He will form a hedge of protection around us.
With Him, the highways, the byways of life are filled with confidence and hope.
We never walk alone.

Grace has the full record of the Forum which should appear in the Souvenir Magazine. You have read my first account of the journey of early pastors, now please join me in some of the accounts of our pastors shared at the three “R” forum!

Rev Dr Tie and Winne felt like moving in a hotel when they were posted to Wesley in December 1989. But soon, they felt at home at the “hotel” and enjoyed their home-stay in the “hotel”.

Rev Dr & Mrs Tie King Tai
Rev Dr Tie with wife, Winne, and children Josiah and Joy and Datin Judy Wong at the Thanksgiving Dinner. Joy is the talented girl who designs our anniversary logo. (Jan, their second child is not in the picture as the GB girl is busy ushering guests to the hall.)

Rev Tie said that God has done amazing works through Wesley Church in different ministries which include Cancer Support groups, Maids Fellowship. Youth Worship Service, and others. He specially mentioned that Wesley’s Ministry in the longhouses has set example for future churches to follow.

He encouraged Wesleyans to preserve unity of the Holy Spirit and that we are all family members of God. Being family members, praying for each other, encouraging one another and strive every effort to unity is a norm.

From home to coffeeshop, Rev Tie has put it beautifully that relationship needs time together.

“Church leaders should go for “kampua mee” more often. Rules without relationship will lead to rebellion. Rules with relationship will lead to submission. Dine together. Have fun together.”

The other pastor who has made Wesley his home and a preparation ground for his own own is Rev Dr Khoo Ho Peng. He should have that first feeling of home when he received a note from a Wesleyan soon after he joined Wesley. The note said,

I missed the morning call of Rev Tie. Could you do something about your voice?

Besides that painfully honest note that only family member would say to each other, the soft spoken pastor, then still single, was even called to share family life and experience family life.

“By the time I left Wesley, I was more ready for my family.”

Rev Khoo humbled himself sharing that his ministry in Wesley has pushed him into the direction of counseling.

As he reflected, he thanked God for the courage of Wesleyans to make themselves available to God to do new things and willingness always to start new ministry and ability to give way to new height of growth and development of the ministry when the right time comes!

Rev Khoo left Wesleyans with the
Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David. (Isa 55:3)
The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:3)

Rev Dr Lau Hui Ming
From left, Rev Dr Lau Hui Ming, Rev Dr Khoo Ho Peng, Rev Philip Ang and Rev Dr Tie King Tai. Rev Philip Ang also shared at the Forum sharing his time in Wesley, especially the memorable Julau Mission Trip.

The longest serving pastor of Wesley is Rev Dr Lau Hui Ming serving from June 1997 to December 2003. It was during his tenure of ministry that Wesley started its annual Vision Building Day. It was through these Annual Vision Building days that many visions were conceived, captured and later realized. That includes the Longhouse Ministry, the Maids Outreach Ministry, Cancer Support Group, Youth Worship Service and Archive Centre.

In his reflections, he exhorted Wesleyans to remain passionate by the profound teamwork that they have displayed over the years. He said that team work is the key work of church life at Wesley that had deeply impressed him. At this point, he touched the hearts of many Wesleyans by sharing that he has been and still amazed by the high rate of mobilisation of manpower and potential at Wesley.

He said, “There were people who had been quietly and faithfully serving in areas like the Sunday School and the Brigades for many years whom I got to notice it quite a while after my arrival.”

Rev Dr Lau said he appreciated the opportunity of serving together with enthusiastic visionary leaders. who revealed their profound leadership qualities and are visionary, committed, responsible, humble and dedicated.

He also praised Wesleyans being committed to practice a balanced Christian discipleship between works of mercy and works of piety which means holding in balance the two commandments to love God and neighbour.

He left Wesleyans with this quote that he had used on the Vision Building Day in 1997 as a challenge –

Every new generation needs to go further than the last, or else what’s the point.

In cautioning the leaders not to be complacent, Rev Dr Tiong Chung Tiing, the present pastor-in-charge of Wesley Church, quoted John 17:4

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

The present Pastor-in-charge of Wesley, Rev Dr Tiong shared with Wesleyans on the common problems faced by churches today.

He said some churches have become stagnant and not as vibrant as before. He cautioned that churches should not dwell in past successes. He also observed that there are many pew warmers who are cold and indifferent, self-centred and lacking spiritual experience. With that Rev Dr Tiong quoted Matthew 7:21-23 that “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

The other common problem of churches are that they are more “porgram-oriented” than “people-oriented”. He exhorted Wesleyans “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:14) by doing things that God has instructed and to do things in God’s way.

Rev Dr & Mrs Tiong
Rev Dr & Mrs Tiong with Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, the Second Finance Minister and Datuk Rev Dr Peter Chio

President of SCAC, Rev Dr Su Chii Ann, also former pastor of Wesley related how he was challenged by the Wesleyans which had caused him some sleepless nights. At the first EXCO meeting, one member asked, “Pastor, do you have any plan for Wesley as pastor?” Wesley was his first pastorial posting. He succeeded Rev Dr Peter Chio. On the very first day, he was given a file and told that was his first task – to build a new church. Being trained in theological studies in Cantonese in Hong Kong and later posted to English speaking church as Wesley was also a challenge to President Su.

President Su posed challenges to Wesleyans at the Forum. He challenged young people in Wesley to go into full time ministry. He has seen at least seven Wesleyans becoming pastors and one is now a District Superintendent. He attributed the glory and honour to God.

“The annual conference is lacking of English speaking pastors, so, Wesleyans, where are you? We want more English speaking members to be pastors.” He made this calling.

He ended with this thought –

Mission and Vision can be realised when we have passion to do it. Ask God to give us the passion to do the mission and vision of the church.

The one word President Su left with Wesleyans is PASSION.

Bishop & Res Su
A warm handshake of Bishop Rev Dr Hwa Yung and President Rev Dr Su Chii Ann with Daniel Ngieng looking on.

In his very thought-provoking sharing at the Forum, Bishop Rev Dr Hwa Yung asked, “What is our responsibility as a church to Malaysia?” In 1738 John Wesley experienced conversion and as a result of this began his career to “reform the nation and spread spiritual holiness throughout the land”.

Bishop Hwa Yung said that God took all of us to a surprise in the nation’s recently concluded general election. He challenged Wesleyans at the Forum to think what key role can the churches play in “reforming the nation”. He was of the opinion that church could play a meaningful and decisive role.

He gave more thoughts,

Are we ready to put our house in order to do the task of “reforming the nation”?
Are we aware of God’s calling in “reforming the nation”?
Are we ready to move?

He shared incident on how God has powerfully spoken to a few of them in a deep sea fishing in Sabah recently when they asked the Lord for a “big catch” as a mark of His Blessings. And indeed, the Lord gave them a “big catch”.

He asked,

When God brings the “big one”, will you and I be ready?

Bishop Rev Dr Hwa Yung challenged,

Put our house in order.
Put our lives in order.
Live accordingly to God’s way.
Love and stick together with one another.
Be ready to take the message and ministry of John Wesley –
to reform the nation and spread spiritual holiness throughout the land.

May 9, 2008 Posted by | Forum | 2 Comments

The Missing Shoe

words, photos, videoclips: phylliswong

Chang Yi writes –

A resounding well done to all of you who worked until 5 a.m. (I heard!!)
And the little boy stole my heart. Did you see his final kick in the encore? A real trouper!!
We will remember this and more and hopefully for many years to come.
Thank you again to all from the OC to the little boy!!

Chang Yi, the evergreen Wesleyan, is now worshipping at Grace Methodist Church. She was one of the many homecoming Wesleyans. She and his other friends (Oop…I forgot to take their names, Chang Yi, probably, you can identify and post it here?) were at the Thanksgiving Dinner on 3rd May.

chang yi & friends
Chang Yi with Connie Goh and Chiew Ching Sing

For those of you who missed the “Missing Shoe” dance, please enjoy this very very nice video of children from our Children’s Home that thrilled our some 1200 guests. The youngest of the children missed one shoe while dancing. Note he picked up his shoe at the end of the dance. By popular request, the children performed the dance again at the end of the dinner. The little boy took off his shoes this time,



by the end of the dance, he even had his socks missing!

You can view the video clip here.

Beyond the celebration, there was this little story of “The Missing Coma” that probably only a handful of Wesleyans heard of it. Not even the Organizing Chairperson, Judy Wong, heard of it!

The thanksgiving dinner was reported in the press. In The Borneo Post, it was reported of the guests attending the celebrations. It was reported – Mr John Vas and wife Sandy Davis….

The “coma” that was inadvertently omitted by the newspaper between Mr John Vas and wife and Sandy Davis probably had caused some embarrassment. But, Wesleyans, pastors whether former or present and our missionaries are a bunch of happy and forgiving people, right? They would have laughed over the “missing coma” as much as they were thrilled by the “missing shoe”. Right?

Now, here is Mr & Mrs John Vas (from right to left) to put it right!

Mr & Mrs John Vas

May 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Remembering the Past

words: phylliswong
photos: phylliswong

For many Wesleyans, it was a week that they are trapped in a sticky web for an exhilarating experience that’s too brief too satisfy… too deep to describe… probably, too personal to share too?

I do not know about you. I like Glen Campbell. His “Gentle on my mind” always sends me down to the memory lane. And this week, it still did.

I did not grow up in Wesley. I started worshipping at Wesley when Rev Dr Peter Chio was going to leave and Rev Dr Su Chii Ann was to start his term.

Besides Rev David MacDonald whom I met seven years ago, and the “Muthiah” who stood out distinctively among them, it was a taxing time for me to remember the Hipkins, the Brinks, the two Sandy, the Seniors and even the Williams! Believe, it caused trembling feet. I had to check, re-check and check again with Judy and Peter if I got them wrong.

I wonder who has the memories of our first beloved pastor who has said this to the press some seven years ago when he made a come-back. Rev David MacDonald said,

When I left Sarawak,
I took part of you with me,
And I left part of me with you,
For that, I thank God.

Rev David MacDonald
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. – 1 Cor 3:6

Yes, I was the journalist who interviewed him. After that interview, I made it a point to remember all the good words of people who passed through my life. And my life could never be the same as before.

That’s very profound. That’s also very heartwarming. These are not mere words. Rev David MacDonald shared during the Thanksgiving Service on 4th May at Wesley Methodist Church that he has been praying for the Wesleyans on every Tuesday morning!

Rev MacDonald shared at the forum on 3rd May that he could still remember his first sermon shared at Wesley. It was based on the text taken from 1 Timothy 1:50.

A group of missionaries, English speaking locals called themselves the English Vespers were worshipping together. One day, by chance, one member said, “Why can’t we be a proper church?” Rev David MacDonald related.

“The person was asking for structure so that they can be properly organized.” He said.

“So, on May day, our group met. It took us only half an hour to form the church!”

How could he remember things that happened 50 years ago?

“I wrote to my mother once a week. My mother kept all my letters. There was also a British magazine called Kingdom Overseas.”

Rev David MacDonald ended with a “high”. He always does,

“I thank God to be here at the beginning,
I look back with warm memories
I thank God for that early beginning.”

The other person who remembers Wesleyans in his prayers is Rev.Geoffrey R Senior. He shared at the Forum,

It was a wonderful experience to develop the work of Sunday School, Youth fellowship groups. My wife started the ladies’ group.


Rev Geoffrey then shared with the Wesleyans the story of a Chinese girl who is now with the Lord. Zheng Yue Mei (Chinese translation) wanted to be baptized. She knocked at the door of Rev Geoffrey one day. The first word she uttered was, “I want to be a Christian.”

Rev Geoffrey invited her in and they talked. Yue Mei was from a Buddhist background. She was trained as a nurse in a hospital in England where she met a wonderful nursing sister. Yue Mei wanted to be like her. Knowing that this sister was a Christian, Yue Mei also wanted to be a Christian.

Rev Geoffrey baptized her later.

“Whenever I think of Yue Mei, I thank God for the seed planted by the nursing sister in the heart of Yue Mei. And God gave the increase. It was God who worked in her heart.”

Rev Geoffrey ended with a “High” –

We are all fellow workers of God. Whether we are in Malaysia. Indonesia or Hong Kong, we are one mission in this one world of His.

Rev Philip D Williams made three “wonderfuls” in his sharing at the Forum,

The first “wonderful” was the experience as the minister of Wesley.

The next “wonderful” was the joy to come back to Sibu.

Rev Philip William

It was also a “high” for the last wonderful he claimed –

How wonderful it is to celebrate the first 50 years. God will provide us with the next 50 years!

“I learnt many Chinese folk songs during those days.” shared Rev. James R Hipkins who pastured the church from 1966/1967. He did not share the names of the songs.

Rev Jim Hipkins

Rev Hipkins said he had an interesting time in Wesley. The choir then practiced in his home!

The Boys Brigade remembers Rev. Chris Tomlinson best, I think. He was the first captain of Boys’ Brigade, 1st Sibu Company. He remembered forming the company on 30h May 1967. It started with 20 to 30 boys, and now, it’s 600!

Rev Chris Tomlinson

Rev Tomlinson shared, “It was a big day for BB on 15 November 1967. The uniform arrived. And the boys wore the uniform for the first time.”

It was even covered by the newspapers then!

Rev Tomlinson ended, “We plant the seed. We never know what it will become. We tend it. We nurture it.” Indeed, God will do the increase!

Rev. James M Brinks started his sharing at the Forum with a “High” –

Rev. James Brinks

When I arrived Sibu with my wife and four daughters, we thought we are in heaven!

He also ended with a “High” –

I thank God for all that we have gained by being here. It is a joy to see many in the leadership position.”

“I put up a fence around Liling Residence when I become pastor. I had to because the durians were missing.” Said Rev Lionel PA Muthiah.

During this homecoming, and 35 years later, someone confessed to Rev Muthiah that he was among one of those who stole his durians!

Rev Lionel Muthiah

“We are all co-workers of God. We are all a people in missions.” Rev Muthiah said and shared this story.

He said that people are searching for meaning in life and hoped Wesley would be a place where they can find meaning of life.

“It’s an humbling experience to be recognized. It’s God’s grace. To God be the glory.” Rev Muthiah, the last missionary pastor of Wesley, concluded.

Rev Dr Peter Chio succeeded Rev Muthiah. He opened his sharing that if he had a choice, he would not choose to come to Wesley for three reasons. He said everybody knew that when missionary came, money came, when missionary left, money also left. The second reason was when a local person took over, he had to do it locally according to our ways whereas the missionary did it in their own way. The third difficulty he faced then was that many young people went overseas to have their higher education, thus the number of members greatly reduced.

Rev. Dr Peter Chio

He would have closed down Wesley then, but Rev Dr Chio did not.

He shared, “We have to aim high, achieve a great task for God. God’s grace is sufficient for you.”

Dear Wesleyans, I shall continue with Reflecting the Present and Reckoning the Future soon….

Or if you were at the celebrations, if you wish to share, just drop an email or leave a comment here!

More photos …. akan datang!

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Celebrations | 5 Comments

And are we yet alive!

And are we yet alive,
And see each other’s face?
Glory and praise to Jesus give
For His redeeming grace!

See and feel the joy of homecoming of past pastors, early missionaries, guests and Wesleyans at the Welcoming Dinner on 30th April in pictures here! (Photos Credit: PhyllisWong)


From left – Shirley Ling, Gail Pilley Harris, Mrs Ling Chee Huah, Mr & Mrs Peter Lau


Rev & Mrs Philip Williams and Peter Lau


Rev Dr & Mrs Tiong Chung Tiing, Rev Dr Peter Chio, Rev & Mrs David MacDonald, Mr & Mrs Peter Lau


Rev & Mrs Lionel Muthiah


George Lau, Jackie Fries, Sandy Berg


Dolly Chong, Rev & Mrs Jim Brinks


Rev & Mrs Philip Williams, Shirley Ling


Oliver Wong, Tony Wong


Chiew Pick King, Mr & Mrs John Vas


Mrs MacDonald, Mrs Geoffery Senior


Rev & Mrs Jim Hipkins


Judy Wong, Rev David MacDonald


Sheila Chiew, Rev Chris Tomlinson


Jennifer Yeo, Mr & Mrs Joseph Yao


Rev Jim Hipkins, Mr & Mrs Stephen Yeo


Rev David MacDonald


Michael Tiang, Cheng Hwa Kong


Francis Hii, Jason Chua


Mrs Philip Williams, Mr & Mrs Geoffrey Senior, Tony Wong, Oliver Wong


Rev & Mrs MacDonald


Rev Dr & Mrs Tiong Chung Tiing


Rev Lisa Ting Lu Ling


Rev David MacDonald, Judy Wong


Rev David MacDonald


Rev Lisa Ting, Mr & Mrs John Vas


May 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments