According to a survey, 51% of indigenous people in Sarawak have moved to urban areas. Thus the evangelical work for the indigenous people is imminent.
Because of this, SCAC began the Bahasa Malaysia (BM) gospel ministry more than 10 years ago and now some churches in the cities or bigger towns in Sarawak are conducting BM Services. In the Miri District the SCAC has even set up the first BM Methodist Church – the Gereja Methodist Tudan.
Kuching BM Ministry
When Rev Law Hui Seng was pastoring in Kuching, he first put forth this vision to the congregation while preaching in Trinity Methodist Church (TMC) and Faith Methodist Church. The response from the congregation of TMC, including church members of indigenous origin worshipping in the English service, was positive.
“However, the main problem of beginning a BM Service is how we should shepherd these indigenous people believers; after all, this is a new ministry and we do not have any experience.”
Later on, upon a proposal from the then Chairman of Ministry to the Sarawak Indigenous People (MSIP) Rev Hii Kong Ching with the strong support from the Board of Ministry, a decision was made to request the Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) to second a pastor. Thus Rev. Peter Mutang was the first pastor to be seconded to shepherd the believers from indigenous people group at Trinity Methodist Church. To reach more indigenous people, social concern works were also carried out among the indigenous people communities.
Five years later, when Rev. Peter Mustang’s contract expired, Pastor Patrick Taie was seconded by BEM and he has been serving at TMC since.
Then, at Ching Kwong Methodist Church the then Pastor-in-charge, Rev Ting Diu Kiong was burdened with the gospel work to the indigenous people groups and started the BM worship service in the church. This met with success since the beginning. Rev Nicholas Tan is now in charge of the service.
Chin Seng Methodist Church was the third church in Kuching to start the BM service. The then Pastor-incharge Rev Ting Hua Sing was serving with Rev Law Hui Seng in the same district and Rev Law shared with him about the gospel needs of the indigenous people. Though he was not well versed in BM, with the help of some members Rev Ting HS began the BM ministry and preached with the help of translators. That went on for two years until Rev Chen Chi Fook joined the church.
“Actually the BM ministry of the Chin Seng Methodist Church had an intriguing start. The gardener of Chin Seng MC, who is from an indigenous people group, is responsible for first inviting his people. To our surprise, over 10 indigenous people came for the BM Service. That was how the church began her BM Service.”
When Rev Ting Hua Sing was transferred to Kuching Matang Methodist Church he also started the BM Ministry in the Church. Now about 60 people attend the service and Sunday school. Pastor Ibrahim Anyi, another pastor seconded from BEM, is in charge.
Currently, Samarindah Preaching Centre, Sentosa Methodist Church and 10th Mile Siong Tau Methodist Church in Kuching have all launched the BM Ministry.
Miri BM Ministry
Regarding the Gereja Methodist Tudan, when Rev. Law Hui Seng was pastoring at Grace Methodist Church, he always promoted the calling of BM ministy. Thus the church members are more aware of the need of gospel work amongst the indigenous people.
“At that time, the residents of Tudan area had the need and I began the work with some brothers and sisters. The Tudan Preaching Centre with Sunday school was set up with over 50 worshippers. The Miri District Superintendent of that time, Rev Alvin Liik, brought the matter to the District level so that the various churches under the Miri District could take turns to serve in the ministry. Rev Chan Jing Mei was later assigned to pastor Tudan Preaching Centre which later became SCAC’s first BM church. Currently Rev Ling Biu, who is SCAC’s first pastor to be trained in BM in Sabah Theological Seminary, is in charge.
Burdened for the indigenous people gospel work, Gan En Methodist Church and Mei An Methodist Church, both under Miri District, began the BM Ministry in their respective churches. Pastor Ladeq Mutang and Pastor Roslind Rosy Anak Merang, both seconded from BEM, are in charge.
Bintulu BM Ministry
Gloria Methodist Church, Bintulu, began the BM Ministry early, The church members are zealous in this ministry and have seen some results. Currently Rev Yong Yai Ling, the second pastor in SCAC who was trained in BM at Sabah Theological Seminary and Pastor Jerry Garang, another pastor seconded from BEM, are responsible for the ministry.
“Many brothers and sisters in Gloria Methodist Church are college graduates and they have good command of language and have helped the BM Ministry greatly. I sincerely thank these brothers and sisters in Christ. “
Sibu BM Ministry
In Sibu, the BM Ministry of Xin Fu Yuan Methodist Church was started by Rev Ling Kuo Chiang when he saw that in the neighborhood there were many indigenous people who have moved from the rural areas, resulting in a great harvest field. Later on, SCAC initiated a request for Pastor Rohana Mbang Jaya to be seconded from BEM to be in charge of the BM Ministry. Currently Rev Sency Ling is responsible for the ministry.
Both Masland Methodist Church at Island Road and Wesley Methodist Church first began the BM Ministry through the Indonesian Maid Fellowship. Due to certain factors Wesley Methodist Church has stopped the fellowship while the Indonesian Maid Fellowship at Masland Methodist is now under Pastor Ling Kwong Fuh’s care.
Sibu Tien En Methodist Church came in touch with the indigenous people and began the BM Ministry when Rev Pau Kiew Sieng was the pastorin-charge. Pastor Mary Timbong, SCAC’s first Iban pastor, was later put in charge of the ministry. A year ago she resigned because of family matters. Now Pastor Tann Kedal (a Gereja Methodist Tudan groomed, SCAC’s own Pastor) is in charge.
After being transferred from Tien En Methodist Church to Logos Methodist Church, Rev Pau began his work again. With the help of Rev. Law Hui Seng, Logos Methodist Church has begun the BM Sunday school and care ministry and is looking forward to further development in the BM Ministry.
Sibu Tien Tao Methodist Church, under the leadership of Rev Chieng Leh Hii, has organized a team of over 10 people to be responsible for the BM Ministry. They have begun a weekly gathering in BM. Some believers attending this gathering have been baptized.
Another church that has just begun the BM gathering is En Tao Methodist Church with home visitation and monthly gathering.
Lack of BM speaking pastor
Rev. Law Hui Seng pointed out that getting in contact with the indigenous people is not difficult, however it is hard to find BM speaking pastors to shepherd the indigenous people. From the experience in the BM Ministry of the above-mentioned churches, SCAC has to ask for help from another denomination. Rev. Law Hui Seng always shares his vision with the aspiring brothers and sisters in Christ, hoping that more people are willing to dedicate themselves for the BM Ministry.
“Rev Ling Biu of Gereja Methodist Tudan is one who responded to the call. That year he responded to the calling and was admitted to study Theology in Sabah Theological Seminary in BM under the recommendation of SCAC. He is now the first BM speaking pastor of SCAC. For those brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel, I really appreciate working with them.”
Rev. Law Hui Seng also stressed that the Board of Evangelism has resources by way of information or guidance to share and support any brother and sister in Christ who is willing to sacrifice to promote the BM Ministry.
“A point to note is that we are not trying to dominate the religious belief of the indigenous people but to lead more urban indigenous people to Christ, thus taking the gospel to the longhouses in remote mountainous areas and leading them to Christ too. As Chinese there may be cultural differences between the indigenous people and us; so it is all the more important we establish a close rapport with them by way of integration and cooperation to establish the Kingdom of God. “
Interviewed by April
Translated by KT Chew