SMPC Disciple Red Book Mission Trip Sg Buri (small file)
Disciple Class students with Gan En Methodist Church members. Photo credit – Jacky Chew.

by James TC Wong

JUNE 6, MIRI – My Disciple Red Book class for Senadin Methodist Preaching Centre (SMPC) Curtin undergraduates covered Chapter 26 last Saturday night (June 4). We are scheduled to complete the remaining 8 chapters by this September.

Usually the session is held at SMPC but last Saturday was special. I took the opportunity to host a farewell dinner to fellow Disciple student Jacky Chew from Kuala Lumpur. The Year Two Chemical Engineering Curtin undergraduate shall be continuing his tertiary education in Perth for the next semester.

Started April last year, the Red Book class (in English) was initiated by Rev. Jabez Tiong. The good shepherd of SMPC had blessed me with the task of facilitator. Nine people enrolled. One has since dropped out.

A graduation requirement for every student in the SMPC Disciple Class is to at least experience one mission trip while undertaking the 34-chapter study.

On March 20, 2016, together with four members from Gan En Methodist Church – Stephen Pan, Barbara Ruran, Kon Sang Haw, Jacky Chew, Dean Ling, Vincent Tan, Darren Gan and Brian Chew visited Rh. Kam, Rh. Ree and Rh. Turan at Sg. Buri.

Sg. Buri is about an hour’s drive from the city.

Jacky Chew shares his thoughts on the trip:

On a sunny and warm afternoon, a group of Christian students studying Disciple Red Book set out on their mission trip.

The trip is a necessity for the Disciple Course graduation. We went to the rural outskirts of Miri. Our journey started from Gan En Methodist Church to three secluded longhouses that are nevertheless accessible by vehicles.

The first destination took an hour to reach because of potholes and uneven surfaces of winding road. We would describe this experience as ‘interesting’; like gentle earthquake simulation! The road was dangerous because at certain points it was narrow and there were no road barriers alongside to prevent vehicles from accidentally falling into valleys. But thank God, our drivers were skillful and they knew the terrain well because of frequent visitations. Though there was nothing to worry about, it was still a terrifying experience for us.

Every student had to contribute to the mission trip through our pre-assigned roles. Brian was in charge of Bible-sharing, Barbara – testimony, Dean and I – Praise and Worship, while Vincent, Sang Haw and Stephen – Children’s Sunday School. Before the trip, we confessed that we were anxious and nervous because we had no prior experience doing our respective tasks except for Barbara.

We were unable to do Praise and Worship in the first two longhouses due to respect given to a recently-bereaved family and relatives.

Our program began with testimony and Bible-characters sharing instead. The Children’s Sunday School was conducted concurrently with the main service. Vincent, Sang Haw and Stephen led the children to an enclosed room in the longhouse. Because Dean and I did not do Praise and Worship, we were able to assist in the Sunday School. Dean, the assigned pianist, had to switch his task in helping out in the Sunday School for the entire mission trip. Because of miscommunication, no keyboard or piano was available on site and we did not bring our own.

In the main service, Barbara shared her interesting testimony on her struggles with God when she was a teenager. The story was really impactful as the residents listened attentively since they easily understood Barbara due to her fluency in BM. After the testimony, Brian shared about Esther’s Story and related it to his struggles during his A- Level in MCKL (Methodist College Kuala Lumpur). Brian also encountered difficulties in translating his story to the audience in BM but managed to pull through with Barbara’s help.

The Sunday School activities were very energetic. The children and teachers got along well. The children also had coloring work. During the Bible story-telling, the children listened attentively. At the end of the service, time was allocated for the residents to request for intersession. We prayed for them on the spot. Most common prayer requests were healing of health challenges.

Sg Buri Mission Trip
Sharing session with the longhouse residents. Photo credit – Jacky Chew.

We have learned so much from this mission trip. We experienced rich, indigenous culture from the interactive sessions with the residents and understood more about longhouses. We were able to glorify God through our ministry as well as strengthening our faith. We achieved our trip’s purpose!

Undoubtedly after the trip, we appreciate our lives more. Our bonding in the Disciple Class became stronger! This mission trip could be the start of an auspicious effect in our Christian life. We could emerge to be a ripple effect for future mission trips that involve evangelism, community engagement/service etc., producing potential future leaders in the Christian community, all glory and praise to God!

Here are some comments after the trip:

Seeing them worshipping God wholeheartedly in these living conditions, it has made me realized how privileged I am to easily access to the Word of God. – Vincent Tan

It was a meaningful experience. I am really glad I had a chance to come. – Stephen Pan

The kids from the longhuouses are so adorable and attentive! I hope I was able to make an impact to the community in some way. – Barbara Ruran

Language may have been the barrier and difficulty I faced to convey to the locals. But I managed to pull through and they understood the message. I believe the Word of God is truly universal and without bounds; it speaks through the heart, soul and Holy Spirit. – Brian Chew

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