words & photos: phylliswong
In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
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 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)
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.
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.
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”.
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.