Story contributed by Fidella Tiew, photo credit – Richard Lin

The mission team had a wonderful three-day fellowship with the longhouses’ brothers and sisters. It was an eye-opening and unforgettable experience for many first timers in the team.

Day 1
MIRI – On Dec 2 a group of 25 people led by Richard Lin departed from Grace Methodist Church (GMC) for a 3D/2N mission trip to two longhouses located in Selangau and Balingian. The main purpose of this mission trip was to share the joy of Christmas and the salvation of Jesus Christ with the people at the longhouses. Besides members from GMC, eight Curtin undergrads from Senadin Methodist Campus Gospel Centre (SMCGC) joined us, adding “youthfulness” to the team spirit. Also the team was an “internationalized” team with members from Zimbabwe, China, Philippine, Myanmar and West Malaysia.

At around 1:00 pm, the team arrived at Rumah Tatom, Selangau which was about 320 km from Miri. As the team was unloading the stuff, a group of more than 20 children with smiling faces sat at the veranda eagerly waiting for us. Quickly the team unpacked, distributed some lollipops to the children, put up the Christmas tree and began to praise and worship God at 1:30 pm. Later the longhouse folks broke up into three groups: children, youth and adult – to have their respective programs concurrently running until 4:00 pm. Educational activities were arranged for the children. There were singing and dancing, English reading and listening, and doing bead work.

Fifteen children aged between 4 – 7 years and sixteen aged between 8 – 11 years joined the activities. Eighteen youths were led by Alex Lin and team for an ice-breaking session and a talk on “relationship”. Alex used the Scripture from Mark 14:32-42 with PowerPoint presentation to engage the youths in his talk. Then two students from SMCGC, Daniel and Dennis gave their personal testimonies.

The third group consisted of 13 adult women from the longhouse. They got together for session conducted by Lina on the topic “What is born again? What comes after being born again?” Despite the heavy rain that afternoon all the activities went smoothly at the veranda. The afternoon program ended in Christmas song practice in preparation for Christmas carolling that evening. The children and the youths from the longhouse really liked singing those Christmas carols and they were all ready for the night’s carolling.

Dinner was served at 6.30 pm. A few families from the longhouse brought their local delicacies to share and we ate together as one “big family” at the veranda. After dinner the carolling group was divided into two. One team was led by Dasline and the other by San-lin. We started our carolling from both ends of the longhouse. As the two teams got to the centre of the longhouse they became carolling “competition”. The children on both caroling teams were practically “shouting” the carols, trying to out-sing the other team. The song “Feliz Navidad” turned out to be the favorite Christmas song during the carolling and in this entire mission trip.

After the Christmas carolling, a movie ‘The story of Jesus for children’ in Iban language was shown. Christmas goodies for the children and youths were distributed to mark the end of the night’s program. That night sleeping in a longhouse was a real challenging experience for the first timers in the mission team. The sleep was constantly interrupted by baby-crying, cat-fighting, insect-crisping, cock-crowing, and dog- licking on our faces.

Day 2
The next day after breakfast, at 8.00 am we held a Sunday Service at the Rh. Tatom. 19 adults and 26 children from the longhouse attended. Rev. Jonathan preached the sermon on “Why are we born in this world?” with Scripture reading from Jeremiah 20:18. He invited the congregation to ponder on the questions, “What is the purpose of us living in this world? Is it just to suffer then die?” Then he concluded we are born to worship God, have relationship with God, take care of His creation and bring glory to God. The Sunday Service ended with the introduction of new mission team members to the congregation and the song ‘Feliz Navidad’.

At 10.30 am the team departed for Rh. Bedindang in Balingian. On the way we stopped at Stapang and tried some durians (king of fruits). It was the first time for Daniel (from Zimbabwe) and he said he liked it as the flesh was sweet like “milk chocolate”. The team also stopped at Selangau town to replenish some food supplies before proceeding to Rh. Bedindang. At Rh. Bedindang the team stayed with the host family, Mr. Paing ak. Ambau. It was a concrete longhouse. The host family treated the mission team with local Iban delicacy including BBQ wild boar meat.

The program at Rh Bedindang began at 1:00 pm. The same activities were repeated. 14 children and 15 youths were present that afternoon. The adult group consisted of 4 men and 12 women. After the activities the younger members of the mission team went for a swim at a nearby waterfall with the longhouse’s youths though it was raining. The rain did not kill the spirit of the Christmas carol team. After dinner each team went to two longhouses for Christmas carolling. Team One went to Rh. Bundak and Rh. Licai. Team Two covered Rh. Bedindang then Rh Akat.

All together 26 persons from 8 families were baptized by Rev. Jonathan.

Day 3:
Next morning we loaded our cars and departed for Sungai Tepus Iban Methodist Church in Balingian to attend the 8.00 am Sunday Service. Upon arrival at the church the team quickly set up the Christmas tree and projector and got ready for worship. That morning the whole church was full. More than 80 (both adult and children) people turned up for Sunday Service. Rev. Jonathan preached from the Scripture, Matthew 28:16-20. There were baptisms at the service. All together 26 persons from 8 families were baptized by Rev. Jonathan. As Rev. Jonathan would be moving to Kuching District in 2012, the church had a little farewell for him towards the end of the service. The mission team presented a gift to Rev. Jonathan and dedicated a song “Power of your love” to him. Daniel also performed a solo dance and got warm applause from the congregation. The Sunday Service ended with distribution of Christmas gifts to 30 children and youths. All of them were so happy with big grins on their faces. A pot bless lunch was organized as farewell to the pastor. Finally the mission team departed for home around noon.

The mission team had a wonderful three-day fellowship with the longhouses’ brothers and sisters. It was an eye-opening and unforgettable experience for many first timers in the team. During our devotion time on Day 3 two brothers shared how mission trip such as this had let them see and realize that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”, as recorded in Luke 10:2. Therefore, the Lord of the harvest has to send more workers into His harvest field. Did you hear the calling? Are you willing to let God work through you? Be part of the mission team and see how God accomplishes God-sized task through you when you obey God.

More testimonies can be found at SMCGC’s page here.

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