Reminiscing the Past, Reflecting the Present,
Reckoning the Future.
3rd May 2008

{Summaries of sharing by those who were present for the above Forum}

           Rev David MacDonald, the first missionary pastor of Wesley Church, began his sharing with this bible verse: “I planted the seed; Apollo watered but God made it grow.”  (1 Corinthians 3:6). He believed this was the theme of our early missionaries … And truly, and in every aspect, it was.
           Little did they know that what they had planted during their serving here as pastors had not been in vain. They sowed the love of God into the lives of the people in His Kingdom work. To return after 50 years and see the labor of their hands for the Kingdom of God flourishing has been very rewarding. Rev MacDonald said it blew their minds away when they found out that Wesley Church membership was almost 800 from the 8 people they first started out with.
           Rev  MacDonald was instrumental in pioneering Wesley Methodist Church. However, God works in different ways, for after a few months, he was transferred to Kuching. He believed one could never put God in a box but allow God to be God…

           For Rev. Geoffrey Senior and his wife, it was a trip to remember. It was their first time back to Sibu after 46 years. While reminiscing, he spoke fondly of a Chinese girl who came up to him one day and told him that she wanted to be a Christian, the reason being that she had met a Christian nurse in England who was very dedicated and loving. This Chinese girl wanted to be like the Christian nurse. Rev Senior stressed that we are all in fellowship with God in His one mission wherever we were…He always felt at home in the family of God’s people.

           Rev. Philip Williams touched on his inability to learn Mandarin no matter how hard he tried. While serving here in Sibu, he had to wear many hats: as pastor, Supervisor and Chaplain of the Methodist Secondary school. He expressed his happiness for what God was doing with the pastors currently serving in Sibu

           Rev. Jim Hipkins related the hard times he faced when he was asked to help the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) of a Chinese church.Some of the members were involved in insurgency movements at that time. Persecution was on the rise and he sometimes feared going to MYF meeting. However he continued to serve God at Wesley Church while his wife,Charlotte, helped in various choirs and also with  youth work.

           Rev. Chris Tomlinson was nostalgic as he brought us down memory lane on how the Boys’ Brigade came about at Wesley. He recalled the arrival of the first batch of BB uniforms on 15th Nov 1968. The boys were very excited when they wore them for the first time. Rev Chris explained that he introduced BB at Wesley in order to instill discipline in boys as well as with some Christian input. He took it as a way to reach out to more youths in Sibu.

           Rev. Jim Brinks and his family felt like they were ‘already in heaven’ when he first arrived in Sibu with his four daughters. He felt right at home as he set foot on Sarawak. He was touched and happy that Wesley Methodist Church was also sending out missionaries to spread the Good News of Christ. Truly the Gospel is meant for the world.

           Rev. Lionel Muthiah, our last missionary past or related his experience with the Trinity Methodist College in Singapore which was instrumental in raising up many pastors. He also acknowledged the work of Rev Lucius Mamora who served as a missionary for the Ibans.  Rev. Muthiah did the extraordinary by asking for forgiveness because the early missionaries might have come with the baggage as ‘colonial masters’ with the Good News. He ended by saying we are all co-workers with God.

           Rev Peter Chio, our first full-time local pastor, was  appointed by the SCAC  to serve at Wesley in 1977 but had hesitated to come at the time. He felt it would be hard to deal with the financial burden, the style of worship and the number of worshippers. The congregation was then small and many of the young people had to leave for overseas study.  However, he managed to overcome those challenges with God’s guidance. By the end of that year, he proposed to build a new church building.  His motto: “Aim high, achieve great task for God and God will provide.”  In 1979  he started the  Chinese Worship service at Wesley.

           Rev. Tiong Chiew Ing served at Wesley in 1986. Despite various challenges, the membership grew steadily during her tenure here.

           Rev Tie King Tai has very fond memories of his time at Wesley. He commended the many out-reach ministries in Wesley such as the longhouse ministry, cancer support group, maids’ ministry, National Service and the Youth Ministry. He stressed  the importance of preserving the unity of the Holy Spirit in Christ and the personal relationship with one another. He concluded by saying “Rules without relationship will lead to rebellion; rules with relationship will lead to submission.”

           Rev Khoo Ho Peng was grateful that he was warmly welcomed by Wesleyans as a single, young pastor. He said that he was an introvert, and Wesley Church became a training ground for him. He appreciated the high tolerance level of Wesleyans in helping and guiding him. He remembered the many meals with members’ families which were helpful to him in starting his own family. He highlighted that the strength of Wesley was to have the courage to do new things for the Kingdom of God as well as to bring to closure those ministries that God has not called for.

           Rev. Lau Hui Ming, the longest serving pastor, gave a slide presentation on the importance of setting visions for the church. He brought us down memory lane to the many things that our church had achieved because of visions. He initiated the Vision Building Day (VBD), a time when “visions were captured, plans proposed and views exposed”. He mentioned a few success stories which bore fruit from the Vision Building Day. They were the Rumah Siba Longhouse Ministry, Maids Ministry (VBD 2000), Cancer Support Group (VBD 2000), Archives and Resource Centre (VBD 2001), Youth Worship Centre (VBD 1997). It was encouraging that those ministries could take off because of the visions of the church. As the Bible says, “Without vision, people perish”

           Rev. Philip Ang shared that he went into full-time ministry after he retired from government service. Even though his time at WMC was short, he enjoyed the fellowship, especially with the Disciple class. He encouraged every one of us to stand firm and fully commit ourselves to God.

           Rev. Tiong Chung Tiing, the current pastor of Wesley, shared his concern of all Christians in churches.  He pointed out that many of them are not Christ centered. This has resulted in the church being spiritually stagnant. The struggles are real but God’s grace is sufficient for us. As we ask God for revival in our land, let it first begin in ourselves.

           Rev.Su Chii Ann started by reminiscing his early years at Wesley. As a fresh graduate trained theologically in Cantonese, he was grateful for the encouragement and help from early Wesleyans.
           He shared that Wesley was  his spiritual family and we would always be in his heart.
           As  the President of SCAC he reminded us to ignite the fire of passion for God. He also challenged Wesleyans to go into full-time ministry in view of the shortage of English-speaking pastors

           Bishop Dr. Hwa Yung challenged the future generations of Wesley to be the torch bearers of our nation. To do that we first need to first put our lives, our homes and our church in order. He reminded us to be aware and ready for what the Lord was calling us to do for His kingdom both as an individual and a church.
           Bishop Hwa Yung concluded by posing this question, “What are our responsibilities as a church to this nation, Malaysia?”  He strongly advocated that as Christians, “we need to reform the nation and spread scriptural holiness over the land.

           So Wesley church, are we ready?”

Reported by Grace Lim & Sheena Jeremiah