Abundant Blessings of Moving out of Comfort Zone
I have been obeying Jesus and learn to move out of comfort zone. By end of November 2013, I was posted to Sibu and moved out of Miri, my comfort zone. I had ever written that I was so well received and loved by Miri brothers and sisters. I could also just live in my own newly purchased home at Lutong, Miri. However, I chose to obey Jesus and move to Sibu.
Prices to Pay
Deep down in my heart, I knew, then, I would have to pay a price for such a move. My dear wife would have to separate with her close friends in Grace Methodist Church (which we served for 9 long years) and other Miri Methodist churches. She had to let go of all the familiar home, church ministry (especially Girls’ Brigade), doctors (who took very good care of her and my family) markets and shopping complexes, roads, etc. She had to start to build new relationships all over again. She had to face the stress of finding new friends and building up ministry. She has to face the challenge of doing it with a not so good heart condition as she is having heart valve leakage. She cannot be overstressed.
My children would have to pay a price for me to obey Jesus. They would miss their classmates in schools. They grew up in Pujut Primary School right from primary one to primary six. They finished Form One and Two in Miri Chung Hua Secondary School. They were actually very used to Chung Hua School. They were used to the teachers, principals, classmates, environment and the expectations at the school. They were at a point of building wonderful relationships and enjoy the friendships. They also began to like the ISCF. They also wanted to study hard to do well in their studies. However, for the reason of my posting and obedient to Jesus, they needed to let go of all the relationships, the familiar and hopes. I may not be able to understand how much they did not like my move. I had tried to prepare them for my move and yet, the shock, the hurt, the disorientation, the disappointments and the damages they faced were something I might not fully grasped. I did explain to them about the technicality of posting and my obedience to Jesus. It was hard still for them to understand. They were reluctant to move to Sibu. They lost their zeal and motivation to study and do well in studies. Especially my twin boys used to study harder and kept improving in their studies, but now, they felt it was pointless to do so in the new school.
How we Responded?
My wife and I did not force the twin boys to study and took up tuition as they used to in Miri. They did their PT3 this year and yet we did not send them for tuition. We were patient with them and tried to understand how much they were disoriented and disappointed. We made sure that they finished their homework. We prayed very much for them to adjust to the new school (Methodist Secondary School). We prayed for them to realize the importance of education. They did not throw their tantrum but they just refused to study hard to face the PT3 (Form 3 Government public examination)! We parents were anxious at first, but we learnt to let go; and trusted Jesus that He would open a way for them. We prayed much and really expected Jesus to intervene. Things did not get better in the sense that they would study harder as the examination was getting nearer last year. They did not really put in more effort except going for 2 to 3 times of Science tuition before PT3 as they were invited by their Science teacher. Also, I observed that they did study harder only the night before the examination of each subject. I expected them to fail most of the subjects!
The twins also did not adjust well in church life though the youths of the church tried hard to relate with them. We also encouraged very much to be involved in the youth activities but they were not keen to attend. We were careful not to force them to take part.
Deep down in my heart, I did not blame Jesus for such reaction in my twins. I took it as they had to learn this life lesson of adjustment everywhere we go. Honestly, I knew Jesus would open a way no matter what. We prayed and we never gave up on our twins. We believe He would help us to overcome the obstacle and the twins will be studious again.
Mercy, our youngest daughter did miss her friends and school in Miri but she adjusted quite well in the same Methodist Secondary School as the twin brothers. She was able to find good friends both in the new church and school much faster than the twin brothers who tended to keep to themselves. She was put in a good class and competed well with her classmates.
Our eldest child, Grace finished her A level at Kuala Lumpur Methodist College and came back in the middle of last year. She started work at Sibu Methodist Care Centre among the children with special needs in early July last year. She plans to pursue a qualification in special education as she has a burden for them. She adjusted quite well in the new church and work environment after six months though she hardly made any friends in church at first. Now she has a few friends at the work and in the new church especially after she decided to participate in more activities. She enjoys her work. This year, she committed to join the church youth choir.
Owing to the fact that I believe it is God’s will for us to move out of Miri, I had also prepared my wife and children for it. I am willing to face all the prices my family has to pay. My wife and I believe after twelve months, Jesus is blessing us tremendously.
Blessings that Come with Moving out of Comfort Zone
Willingness to pay the price for being obedient to Jesus also comes with tremendous blessings. I cannot help but keep thanking God for He moved me to move out of my comfort zone!
When PT3 results were released, Tobias and Elliot did not fail many subjects as we had expected. Each one of them scored three to four As and they obtained B, C, D, and E for the rest of the subjects. They only failed one subject. This is a blessing and a big surprise for the whole family. In terms of the new church environment, they started to relate to other youths lately. The youth fellowship is also active in trying to get them involved in church ministry like choir, family group and fellowship. In terms of school, before the end of Form 3, they started to mention about their friends and building up relationships with their classmates!
Mercy did well in her Form Two. She took the studies seriously. She studied much harder than she was in Miri. She even managed to win a reward from me and flew to KL with her mother for a year end holiday. She found new friends both in school and church quite soon.
Grace has also made quite a few new friends both in church and at work. She is now exploring the possibility of pursuing her special education degree.
My wife tried her best to help me in the ladies’ fellowship. She would conduct bible studies during my absence. She is slowly getting used to Foochow and Hinghua Chinese culture. She is also involved in the Sunday School ministry in terms of leading the committee for the year end children bible camp. This year, she is involved (with a few other ladies) in teaching and caring for the children while the adult fellowship is doing meeting every Friday night. I am so encouraged to see her involved in ministry in her own way without pressure from me. Last year and this year, I really do not want to ask to do much because I afraid that she might be overstressed and develop heart trouble. She is actually undergoing half yearly medical follow up a Kuching Samarahan Heart Specialist Centre. Praise the Lord, despite her heart condition, she can serve in her own way. I believe she takes risk (of heart trouble) when she decides to serve brothers, sisters and children.
These above blessings are just few major ones. The blessings I experienced are just tremendous. I cannot help but keep thanking Jesus for all the serving opportunities and discipleship making that come my way. It is not only Jesus is extending my ministry territory, He very much teaches me to serve people with depth.
I am very overwhelmed by the ministry opportunities that come along my way. Invitations to preach in other Methodist churches are quite many and I had to turn them down throughout last year. I need to focus on my own church and serving in the Board of Evangelism. They invited me to preach on reaching out the indigenous people and deliverance ministry. End of last year and at the beginning of this year I need to turn down many invitations again! I find the needs here are so many. Yet, I have to humbly turn them down for I only have 24 hour a day in my life. I really need to learn how to focus and not do so much that I end up not pleasing Jesus. In all my life ministry I have not rejected so many opportunities to preach. Each time I reject, I learn to be humble and be pleasing to Jesus. I believe I am limited in my time, energy and health. In the process, I am praying about how I must train others to multiply what I am doing. In short, I experience the blessing of how to be humble by admitting my own limitations.
I learn to minister a group of sisters in the ladies fellowship. I teach and serve with them every Tuesday night. I am the only brother in their midst. Most of them are older than me. I feel it is such a privilege to disciple them and build them so that they can be strong wives, mothers and grandmothers, and disciples of Jesus to serve their family, the church and the world outside. Quite a few of them are zone leaders. It is such a privilege to see their progress in their spiritual growth. I witnessed that their relationships with one another are reconciled. They learn to let go of their anxiety. I put in special effort for cases that requires special attention; meeting them individually and counseling so that they are freed from bondages.
I am able to preach regularly in Mandarin again! I am trained theologically in English but praise the Lord, I am confident to preach in Mandarin. I only studied Mandarin until Primary 6 but I can do it over the pulpit. Thank God for blessing me with the Mandarin bible and the newspaper which I read every now and then. It helps to train and equip me to be competent to preach and minister in Mandarin.
I am able to minister at Iban long houses. My church is tasked to teach the Iban children at three long houses. I am also given opportunities to preach there from time to time. Compared to the past, I only get the opportunities during mission trip to long houses. There are numerous long houses both near Sibu and outside Sibu. Many long houses are yet to be reached out.
I also find that there is a big space in Sibu town to do Bahasa Malaysia ministry. Praise the Lord I could conduct a BM seminar at a Sibu town church and eventually, they started the BM ministry. They have thirty over people meeting weekly now. I am always very excited to see more BM congregations planted in the town.
In terms of ministering in a deeper way, I find that Jesus bless me with the knowledge and skill to differentiate sharply between mental problem and demon possession. I really do follow up and counsel the cases faithfully and study each case with patience and prayers. I really give each case the proper attention he/she deserves. At first, my skill of discerning the difference is not sharp at all. Praise the Lord, after the two three cases, I am so empowered by the Holy Spirit to do it more accurately. I really come to know more accurately what are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, for example. I even personally accompanied 3 persons to see psychiatrists. For most cases, I am called to see if they are demon possessed or not. Most of the times, I discern that they are hit by mental problems. Now, Jesus has blessed me with the opportunities to ask the questions like what are the causes of mental problems and how to avoid them. I now have the desire to read more about the mental illnesses.
I also had the great opportunity to use my Master of Theology knowledge to teach five Iban pre-theological class. I taught them spiritual warfare and evangelism at Sibu Methodist Theological School. I pray that I will be able to teach a subject in BM on cross-cultural pastoral care for the Chinese Theological students this year. It is something that Jesus has put in my heart all this while.
I also have the great blessing of serving and making disciples with Sibu West District pastors, church leaders and lay people. I come to know so many new faces and I am so privileged to cross path with them. Each new face I meet, I always try to remember them by taking their photos and telephone contacts. Each new person whom I come to know brings me new opportunities of disciple making. I just feel that because I know the person before, now I can serve him/her better.
My mind is greatly challenged to think and see things (areas of need) that challenged me to be even more visionary in Sibu. I am here only for one year and I am so blessed! I pray that I will be in this present church, En Tao Methodist, for at least another five years. I have been working on a five year plan for this church. Though I do not serve here full time as I have to serve the Board of Evangelism, I enjoy the ministry with the brothers and sisters (fellow disciples) here so much. My family is greatly loved and supported. We are so blessed here in this church.
(En Tao Methodist Church, Sibu, 3/1/2015)