The 2nd Sabah Annual Conference (SAC) of the Methodist Church in Malaysia was held successfully in Kota Kinabalu from November 8 to 9. This conference of a day and a half is the highest level annual planning meeting for the SAC. Besides reports from each board and ministry development results from each district, the conference also featured debates and the approval of proposed plans from the East, West, and Bahasa Malaysia districts. The overall direction of the coming year for the annual conference was also presented, as well as appointments of pastors.
Around 100 Chinese and indigeneous pastors from each district in Sabah attended the conference, among other representatives and observers. Rev Joel Siew and Sabah Theological Seminary principal Dr Thu En Yu were unable to attend due to schedule conflicts, however the principal of the Seminari Theoloji Malaysia Rev Canon Dr Steven Abbarow and the principal of Methodist Theological School Sibu in Sarawak, Dr Khoo Ho Peng, were able to attend.
The Bishop’s prayer: A God-fearing church
The bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, Rev Ong Hwai Teck, reminded us during his sermon in the opening ceremony that as children of God, we need a baseline in our lives. In Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 and 12:13-14, King Solomon, who had seen and owned almost everything, came to a conclusion near the end of his life: Everyone has a duty. If one does not do their duty, everything will fade away. In fact God is like a director. He chooses the role for each actor, and each one of us has the responsibility to play our role well. Bishop Ong emphasized that in the area of church ministry, not only the bishop, president, or pastors must serve wholeheartedly, but each of us must do so, to glorify God and bless people. God has given us responsibilities that we must account for one day. This is also what King Solomon realized near the end of his life, and through the book of Ecclesiastes he reminds us:
1. Remember. In the days of your youth remember the days of trouble; know God as early as possible. Thus, the Methodist Church in Malaysia places great importance on family and discipleship ministry.
2. Reborn: Before the days of trouble, mankind still has a second chance. Those who do not yet know God must seize the opportunity to do so quickly. So pastors must emphasize and not neglect Sunday School teaching ministry!
3. Fear: If we put fearing God as our priority, we will not submit to sin! Bishop Ong exhorted God’s people to stay strong and steadfast, to obey God’s commandments unconditionally and without compromise, instead of complaining constantly. The bishop’s prayer is that the Methodist Church in Malaysia is a God-fearing church!
The President’s thanksgiving
The president of the Sabah Annual Conference, Rev Hii Kong Hock, recounted God’s plans and grace in his address. It was God’s plan to allow the building plans and land transfer for the Sabah Annual Conference headquarters to be approved within one short year by the Kota Kinabalu Municipal Council. It was also God’s grace, through the combined work of pastors and church members, that the Tawau Methodist Mark Building was completed with almost half the original estimated construction cost! President Hii also reminded church pastors and leaders that since the sheep have been found and have come here, we need to lead them to become sheep of God, not to leave them among the sheep or goats outside the fold. He also encouraged each district to donate by faith their leftover funds from past years, to support church plants and the needs of the HQ building.
Bishop Ong responded to President Hii’s address, giving thanks because even though the Sabah Annual Conference is smaller than annual conferences in West Malaysia, it still plays an important role in Sabah’s multicultural society with its three-language gospel ministry, and a special board in charge of missions to Chinese workers, as well as the BM ministry to the indigeneous peoples.
BM district superintendent Rev Markus Sigar, in his report, described indigeneous people ministry as difficult. Pastors and workers ministering in less developed areas work as pastors, missionaries, teachers, and counsellors, but they also have to be drivers, technicians, farmers, even “doctors and nurses”. For more support, Bishop Ong suggested Rev Markus to set up a visiting missions team to Sengoi Church, to go among them to share experiences and encourage them.
In the Board of Ministry report, Rev Ling Heu Uh was thankful that Rev Lo Vui Min has been healed from illness and is now back and active in ministry. Meanwhile, Rev Wong Teck Suk is the first pastor sent by the SAC to serve at the Methodist Theological School Sibu, Sarawak.
This year’s fishers of men prize was won by Song En Methodist Church of the West district.
In the Evangelism Board report, Rev Tee Kwok Chiang pointed out that districts reaching 50% or 100% of their baptism number targets were all using “happiness small group” or “qi fa” classes to reach out to nonbelievers. Besides the regular monthly offerings, a healthy church also contributes more to missions, evangelism, and social concerns offerings.
Reported by Chin Chia Vun
Translated by Joy Tie