Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two Questions For Good Samaritan Church


2 Corinthians 12:9-10   9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I have entered into my first year in Good Samaritan Church. It was like yesterday to me because I still remember how quick I have to prepare everything for this unexpected transfer. But I have faced the whole year with challenges, difficulties, struggles, stress, and at one point I even got into a minor depression that I was considering if I should quit. But God’s grace is sufficient for me and his power is made perfect in my weakness. This one whole year has helped me to get closer with God and my faith level has grown as well. I spent more in prayer and reading the Word of God. I never pray for a church as intense as I did in my first year in Good Samaritan.

Throughout the year I asked the Lord what is His will for Good Samaritan Church. In this one year, God often asked me these two clear questions repeatedly in different occasion, whenever I pray for this church:

1.       How many pastors and priests have Good Samaritan produced?
We have produced many fulltime staff in the past. The question is, how many of them still remain? How many have become pastor and priest?

2.       What will be the first impression of people, especially young people, when they see our church – physically and relationally? Will they stay after visiting us for one time?


These two questions have thus become the vision of the Church. I want to impart these questions to you as Good Samaritan Church. God’s grace is certain for our church when we come together in unity to achieve what God wants us to achieve. All we need is to embark with faith and to see God’s work in this church. 

Isaac

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why I believe in Intergenerational Discipleship

Background

Coming from a non-Christian background, I began experiencing faith at the age of 13, even though I became a follower of Christ with an “owned faith” at the age of 19. I had been probing my faith at the age of 16. That was the period when I ran away from God. However, I thank God that, by His grace, He blessed me with a community of faith to bring me back into His presence, and today I can serve Him and write this thesis. I thank God for his bringing me back to the faith that I once had before I ran away from the Lord. This was the period when I was in the stage of “searching faith.”
Later, I went through John H. Westerhoff III’s “Stages of Faith Development.” Even though Westerhoff’s model is proposed to be applied in terms of physical age, yet it is also applicable in terms of the spiritual age of a person, as it did in my case.  
            What led me to study the importance of Intergenerational Worship (IGW) can be traced back to the period in my life when I started to serve in the campus ministry in what was then Inti College Malaysia in Nilai.[1] I had one question, “Why had so many students who were from Christian background left their faith, or why do so many of them feel so reluctant to go to church?” I felt that, had a person been raised in a Christian family, they should have owned the Christian faith and been serving God passionately by the time they reached this college-going age. I did not find an answer to this question until I responded to serve the Lord and was transferred to the Church of Our Holy Saviour in Labuan, where I served in the youth and children ministries.[2] My concern for the youths was that, when the time came for them to move to Kuala Lumpur or other parts of West Malaysia, or perhaps overseas for their studies, they would continue to worship and serve the Lord. I then realized that, in order for them to find a sense of belonging in church, those serving in the youth and children ministries must intentionally spend time with them in order to disciple them. They must be intentionally taught to love the Lord and to serve Him.
In 2008, in order to create awareness for the importance of IGW, the Diocese of Sabah organized the first children conference with the theme of “Children Can Worship.” It was an initial step to mobilize the churches in the Diocese to encourage children to worship together with adults. It was through this conference that I was made aware of the importance of IGW, and it answered the question I had asked above.
            I am convinced that a person’s experiential faith is important for their spiritual formation. One’s experience of faith is the foundation of nurturing the faith of that person. This foundation must be intentionally built by equipping themselves with the Word of God. Despite going through a stage of “searching faith,” they would eventually return to the Lord one day because of their experience with God. They would know the praiseworthy acts of God, just like the Prodigal Son, who came back to his father when he remembered how much he could have, should he return to his father. The youths who would be going to a big city like Kuala Lumpur for their studies would have their faith challenged by all kinds of temptations or ‘Baals” offered by the city, which will be examined in Chapter One. Their priorities might change if they were not careful and if they lack a proper foundation in their faith. This younger generation cannot be lost, for they are the future of their churches.




[1] Inti College Malaysia is currently known as Inti International University.
[2] The Church of Our Holy Saviour is an Anglican church situated in the Federal Territory of Labuan.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

How long and how far?

Righteousness is not an easy path to follow,
To live in righteousness, your life might filled with sorrows,
Sorrows that come from the enemy of righteousness, wickedness,
Sorrows come simply because righteousness could not agree with wickedness,
Even the humble King David cried, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 13:1-2)

When you choose righteousness, your will know who are your true friends,
Because of fear, your friendship ends,
“How long, O Lord? How far, O Lord? That this path of righteousness will end?
So that I can meet You on the other end”

Why wickedness appear in the path of righteousness?
Why righteousness did not appear in the path of wickedness?
Why righteous men must suffer and wicked prosper although it is just temporally?

It is understandable that suffering because of righteousness is for the sake of Christ,
Perhaps, the sorrow would not be heavy if it is caused by people who do not know Christ.
Instead of going through the sorrow together, why people who knew Christ want to cause sorrow to their brothers and sisters more than those who do not know Christ wanted to?


How long, O Lord? How far should I walk?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tribute to the Late Bishop Albert Vun

15 July is a date I will never forget because 15 July is the day when I start my fulltime ministry 7 years ago. 15 July also marked my 7 months of ministry in Good Samaritan Church. On 15 July 2014, our dear Bishop Albert Vun has gone with the Lord after battling with cancer for nearly 10 months.

I thank God that I worshiped in St. Patrick's Church in the year of 1998 - 2003 until I leave for study. I can remember vividly how he preached the Word of God with passion. I was as young as 13. In 1999, he was the speaker of a youth camp in St. Patrick's Church. It was through this camp that I got closer to the Lord. He was preaching on the book of Jonah. I remember many important thing that he has said such as "Every Cell is a Church, and every Cell Leader is a Pastor." I also remembered that he is a very patient man. I still remember that in that camp we accidentally kick the football and hit Andrew his youngest son until he fell down from his bicycle. At the same time he concerned Andrew, at the same time as well, he didn't want to release his anger to us.

In 2005, I had the opportunity to have lunch with him at IKEA with Jonathan Tse and Eric Ling. He asked me why am I following these two man and was in church? I told him frankly I skipped class because there were no students attended the class because CNY is coming. He also make sure that I refilled my coffee in IKEA 3 times so that it worth the money.

2005 Christmas Eve I was invited to his house for dinner before the service starts. Unforgettable moments. I still remember in 2010, 5 years after that, saying to him, Bishop these 4 warriors are still fighting. He tell us to stay strong!

In 2007, I was interviewed together with Cynthia (my fiancee), Kitt and Nicole because four of use responded to fulltime calling. That short meeting has impacted me a lot to continue to serve the Lord. He told me to obey God's will than my will. Although he wanted to be a missionary in Thailand, but he was elected as the Bishop of the Diocese of Sabah at that time. I still remember he was using Nokia N95.

In 2008, I was "interviewed" by him again because I started my relationship with Cynthia who was then one of his staffs in the Diocese office. As I was in his office, before he says anything, he commented on my clothing and my punky hair. And he said to me, "I treat Cynthia as my daughter". At that time I felt honored. Because of that meeting, I was sent for vocation interview and then was sent to STM for theological study.

During my studies in 2009-2011, on and off I will go to airport to fetch him to church. In that journey I will update him about my progress. And he will always share his vision to me which basically to grow the church, the young people, do not lose to the world and so on. Sometimes we talk about investment as well when he found out that I studied finance before. He was surprise with my analysis which relatively in the same opinion with him. He will not allow me to pay the toll for him. I still remember he used his GPS in while I was driving. I didn't know that his GPS was equipped with alarm if I exceeded the speed limit. One time the alarm rang and triggered him. He woke up and say, "Ka Seeeennnggggg! Slow down" 

When he knows that I go back to KK for holiday, he will spend his time with us over lunch or dinner. It was through these personal times with him that I get to know him better.

I remember after my first year of study in STM, I do not have a laptop yet. I ask from him if the Church can help me to get one laptop. He gave his personal laptop to me. Although it was old, but it helped me for one semester. He is a generous person. He always concerns the welfare of the church, the clergy and pastors, the students and their family. He always give the best in term of quality to people.

Once I graduated from seminary, I served in All Saints' Cathedral in All Saints' Day 2011 which was the Centenary Celebration as well. From then, I serve closely with him. I became his chaplain. I drove him to the places he needs to go. He never waste any time to mentor me and to disciple me. Even a short 10 minutes drive. Every Christmas and Chinese new year, he will remember me and Cynthia. 

He always make sure I preach strong and powerful message. Always called me to his office and asked these few questions: how many sermon have you listened? what have you learnt? have you memorized scriptures?

One of my preachings he was there in the Wednesday Morning prayer which we use to training graduates and clergy. I knew I preached terribly and did not make enough preparations. He rebuked me in front of the senior clergy. I felt disappointed with myself. I knew I have disappointed him. But with a humble heart I take that as a lesson that I never want to go back again. From there, I put my best effort in my sermon preparation. After that I also found out that he asked others if I am okay. He asked other why my preaching was not up to standard that day. I felt that he really concerned me to the end.

Towards the end of his life here on earth, I managed to spend time with him. He knew that I was pressure and stress in ministry. He whatsapps me "Do not be fret. I am praying for you. Let me know if you need to talk." Now, he is praying in heaven with Jesus for me. His last advice to me was "Be strong and courageous. Stand firm. Build the Church. Know your position in Christ". We had Holy Communion together on that day.

Although he was in sickness and pain, I will never forget that he said, "I will give every drop of my energy to the church!" He meant it. I did it. Preach his last sermon with power! He challenged us to serve God in time of suffering when God take away something from you. "Will your serve God for nothing?" That was his last challenge for us.

When I was down and stress up to a point that I want to quit this ministry, his life spoke to me to continue on. His life pointed to Jesus to endure. He inspired me to serve faithfully even when it is tough!

I thank God for his life, his teachings, and mentoring and his leadership. He has been a spiritual father to me. He has been a friend to me. I will never forget all the moments we cried together in prayer for the church and diocese. I thank God that my marriage counselling was conducted by him. I have truly learnt a lot from him.

I am glad to serve beside you. I treasured every moment of it because I surely learnt something form you. I will never forget when you say, "Learn from this ahh Ka Seng"



Your legacy and passion will pass on to the next generation. We will see the completion of the House of Celebration which has been your burden and desire.

We will see you again Bishop. Thank you for your prayer of blessings upon Cynthia and myself. How we wish to have you to conduct our wedding. But we know you are in a better place. Now you know the answers on the pearly gate. I know you are praying for the church and diocese together with the angels.

Amen.
Ka Seng

Friday, February 21, 2014

God was there in your failure

I am currently attending the Eagles Leadership Development Program in Bali. It is a wonderful place. I thank God for such a good timing for me to partially take a break from ministry.

In the first day of retreat, Peter became a significant person in my reflections. I have been reflecting about his life and ministry - from his calling from Jesus until he disown Jesus. We can learn three things from Peter's failure as disciple.

1. God Knows That You Will Fail

Matthew 26:34   "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you (Peter) will disown me three times."

We need to know that all of us are subject to failure.Many great people went through failures before they succeeded. Jesus knew that Peter will fail him - disown him three times.

2. God Were There When You Fail
Luke 22:61  The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times."

One important thing we need to know as well is that God were there every time we fail. I want to share why sometimes we fail. Sometimes we fail because we think God is a loser. Imagine the scenario Peter was in. He saw Jesus was being beaten, weak and helpless. Peter saw this and doubted.

Sometimes, when we face difficulties and when God seems like a loser, we would fail God. But once you fail, you need to remember that God already knew that you will fail.

3. God Is Still With You After You Fail
John 21:17   The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. 

Most of us would think that once we fail God, God will leave us. In fact, failure is a transformational moment in our lives. Three times Peter disowned Jesus. Three times Jesus asked if Peter still love Jesus. 

Before this, Peter was afraid to die because he knew Jesus. But after this incident, Peter recovered and transformed. 

John 21:19  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" 

Isaac

The Leader's Voice

John 10:14-16,26-27   14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me--  15 just as the Father knows me and I know ...