A Word from the President
Rev Dr Tie King Tai
Asking Chinese people not to eat is nearly impossible, because even when greeting each other, Chinese people ask, ‘Have you eaten?’ As the Chinese proverb says, ‘To the people food is heaven’, so has food become the god (‘heaven’) of the Chinese people. It is a curse not to eat, and a blessing to have food to eat.
Consequently with this idea of ‘eating is a blessing’, to ask Chinese Christians to fast and pray is like asking them for their very lives. Plenty of excuses would be given in order not to fast.
In the past many years, Methodist Theological School has taught and encouraged future pastors (seminary students and even short term missions students) to fast and pray once a week (in the beginning it was done on Monday, later in following John Wesley’s example it was changed to Thursday after dinner until Friday afternoon). But when I asked ordained pastors in the… masters class, or asked pastors still under probation, most of them say that after leaving MTS, they do not fast anymore.
Where does the problem lie? Why do most co-workers in Christ not fast and pray?
I suspect that besides the aforementioned view of eating among the Chinese, another reason may be the difficulty of doing it alone. When fasting alone without the company of others, any resolve fades in time, and so one eventually gives up.
So after the installation ceremony for presidency, when I announced that December 6-8 (2016) would be 3 days of fasting and prayer, and invited fellow brothers and sisters to join me, I did not have very high hopes. But the Holy Spirit had moved me to do so and also to announce it, so by faith and understanding of the Spirit’s ways, I followed the Holy Spirit.
Thanks be to God, even as I announced it, I could feel the support of coworkers and delegates of the SCAC. The response was immediate, kicking off an incredible 3-day journey of fasting and prayer. You can read about God’s amazing works during those 3 days in the following report. May all glory be to God!
I was moved to action by Queen Esther’s 3 days of fasting and prayer. Through fasting, I wanted to tell God that I am nothing, can do nothing, that only God is my everything and my strength, because “not by power nor by might, but by God’s Spirit”. We need to depend on God alone as we begin the next four years of service, and we need to depend on God alone to complete the next four years of service.
Jesus began his public ministry with fasting and prayer, as Matthew chapter 4 records: 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
The first perfect man Adam fell down on account of food, losing the glorious image of God.
The second perfect man Jesus stood up on account of food, fully displaying the glorious image of God.
As disciples of Jesus Christ who believe that he is the Son of God and who follow in his footsteps, we must learn not to depend on food alone to live, but to depend on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word in our daily lives.
In the 3 days of fasting and prayer, the Holy Spirit inspired me to write down the ‘10 items of God Can’; it is also the ten major points for the next four years:
1. More urgency in prayer
2. More diligence in Bible reading
3. More liveliness in worship
Loving others: internally
4. More focus in discipleship
5. More love in fellowship
6. More efficiency in meetings
Loving others: externally
7. More dedication in missions
8. More diligence in planting churches
9. More zeal in evangelism
10. More involvement in social concerns
In order to complete the above 10 items in the next 4 years, we need to depend closely on the Holy Spirit. So we must first pay attention to the first item: more urgency in prayer. Since we have already begun with fasting and prayer, we must continue to completion with fasting and prayer.
Here I call upon all my fellow co-workers and brothers and sisters in Christ to revive the early church’s practice of a weekly fast (Acts 13:1-3), also reviving the Wesleyan revival fasting practice – to fast every Thursday after dinner until Friday 3 pm, which also happens to be around the time of Jesus’ death.
Followers of a certain religion fast for a month every year, and this has become one of their greatest powers of cohesion, so that they are united as one, allowing them to use this great force to influence the whole world.
In these desperate times, even more so we must unite in fasting and prayer to build a church after God’s own heart, to join our hearts and hands in bringing change to our society, country, and even to the whole world. (Translated by Joy Tie)