New Covenant Church in new premises

Pastor Peter Sze

I am so behind in my blogposts. As I cleared the photos on my phone I saw this pic of Peter Sze and myself dated 22 August 2018. The pleasant memory of that short time of fellowship came to mind. I am so glad of developments in the church he leads. New Covenant Church in Petaling Jaya is a marvellous church, one that defies logic. You will know what I mean if you read my previous posts on this unique church.

We have not been able to meet for some time because of busyness so to be able to do so was something I treasured. I cannot remember what I ate because we were more absorbed in conversation.

When I first saw him I was struck by his loss of weight. He looked trim and younger. He told me he reduced refined carbohydrates and walked a lot. This is losing weight the healthy way. I was happy for him and concerned about my gradually bulging “middle kingdom.”

  • It was great to hear about developments in the New Covenant Church:
  • They have moved to exciting new premises. See here.
  • Their school has grown in enrolment.
  • He has appointed pastors – leaders who have a track record of functioning as shepherds/leaders even before they were appointed. The appointment only affirmed what was already there.

The last time I worshipped with them is now a distant memory. If I do go KL I would like to pay them a visit. Happy the church is doing well.

The New Covenant Church: recent developments

Observing this young church

Our 2014 church camp was held in Everly Hotel in Putrajaya. I decided to visit my favourite church in Petaling Jaya, the New Covenant Church. My friendship with the pastor, Peter Sze, was started and maintained by social media via this blog and Facebook. I have been a keen observer of this grace-based church that has taken Joseph Prince’s melody of grace and made the song uniquely theirs. It has been nothing short of amazing what God has done, and I have been observing the development of this young church since its formation. You can read the various posts I have written by doing a search on the top right hand of this blog.

Hosted warmly by the family

With Yew Juan and tallest tissue prata in PJ
With Yew Juan and tallest tissue prata in PJ

On Friday afternoon while church campers went home to Singapore a Mercedes Benz shuttled me and my wife off to the pastor’s home where we received a warm welcome from Seefen, the pastor’s wife. Pastor Peter is a managing director of a company and flew back from Singapore late in the afternoon. By around six, he and his wife had to go launch a new community group of the church. Running a company and leading a church requires bi-vocational stamina and passion. Meanwhile we were brought out for an evening meal in IPPUDO at the Bangsar Shopping Centre. Filled up with ramen and pleasant conversation with Yew Juan and Suzanna (the pastor’s daughter), we then had dessert at a kopitiam: roti tissue tower, teh tarik, and chendol – calories for tomorrow’s hike, that’s how we justified our intake.

the tncc regular hikers of Gasing Hill
the tncc regular hikers of Gasing Hill

Hiking Bukit Gasing

Pastor Peter hiking with us
Pastor Peter hiking with us

It was about seven in the morning on Saturday when we got ready and went for the morning’s hike up Bukit Gasing (literally “hill top”). The hill is located on a narrow sliver of green,  smack in between Kuala Lumpur (federal territory) and Petaling Jaya, a city of Selangor. At 160 metres tall it is the small brother of Bukit Timah Hill’s 163 metres. There was a group of hikers from the church who regularly hiked here. Many had climbed Mt Kinabalu recently and some had stories of weight loss and better health as a result of regular hiking.

We enjoyed the hike. It had interesting features like a watch tower, a suspension bridge, and various detours from the main route. One of the steeper slopes was tougher than the toughest slope in Bukit Timah Hill. It was a good workout and we adjourned for breakfast with the group while Pastor Peter had to rush off for a meeting with his leaders. He was busy but had accommodated our desire to hike. If not for us, he would probably have had opted for sleep, glorious sleep. That afternoon we talked shop over lunch and coffee at One Utama.

Recent developments in the New Covenant Church

The New Covenant Church used to have a mid-week fellowship that meets for teaching of the word and small group interaction. Now in addition to this they have developed home fellowships for the caring and belonging of community. I thought this was an important development for as the church grew to its current 600 in attendance, feeling a sense of belonging can be easily lost. These home groups that met fortnightly for fellowship are spread over more locations, making it convenient for members to attend. The increase of such groups will certainly increase body ministry and participation, develop shepherds and leaders, and give the church a greater capacity to assimilate and initiate new guests or converts into the life of grace. It will lay foundations for further growth in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

TNCC Educenter

Another interesting development I got wind of was the formation of the TNCC Educenter. The stated mission was to provide an education alternative for young people at affordable costs. They use a programme called Eduseeds. It is multimedia-based online learning combined with classroom interaction. It is done at the pace of the student. And it prepares students to sit for the Cambridge IGCSE. It is done as a community service too. Pastor Peter shared how the Lord opened the door for them to start this and provided the right contacts, champions and students.

Ian and Charmaine, the worship stalwarts
Ian and Chermaine, the worship stalwarts

On Sunday I saw the large auditorium that tNCC uses for its worship services. This was their third one and it seated 800. I preached there on the new covenant way of finishing well, and gave an invitation for sick people to be prayed for with the laying on of hands. Nowadays, I find that my doctoral research on ageing and spirituality have crept into my preaching and writings. I guess this is inevitable and I do not mind if that is relevant to the text my message is based on, which it was, as I spoke about the biblical Caleb, that senior with great faith, and how he finished well.

Christine, Aileen, and us
Christine, Aileen, and us

Catching up with Aileen and Christine
I couldn’t book a return bus ticket for Sunday and I asked Aileen, who attended our church when she lived in Singapore, for help. She invited us to stay in her home on Sunday and book a ticket on Monday morning. We had a lovely crab dinner near her place and then we visited her daughter’s new start-up café. It was in a glass house situated in a university, and we loved the coffee, lava cakes, macaroons and decor. On Monday morning, we slurped up fish porridge at a local coffee shop, and left for Singapore on First Coach at One Utama.
What an enjoyable and blessed weekend of ministry, fun and fellowship.

Malaysian church parody of Gangnam Style

This video is probably the best parody video done by a church of the Gangnam Style. The New Covenant Church of Petaling Jaya cooked up this fun and creative video for its 3rd anniversary celebrations. I saw it today and it put a smile on my face because there are people in it that I know and the Malaysian PSY lookalike is just fabulous in his cheeky movements and facial expressions. The lyrics of the rap “the tNCC style” are shameless and ingenious advertising. Enjoy and may it brighten up your office Monday blues!

To know more about the New Covenant Church click HERE.

Update on the New Covenant Church, Petaling Jaya

Breakfast with pastor Peter Sze

It was a good time of catching up with the founder of The New Covenant Church, Pastor Peter Sze. It’s been some time since I wrote about the church that I have tracked since it opened its doors almost 3 years ago. Here are some interesting and amazing facts about the new church in Petaling Jaya.

It is the fastest growing church in Malaysia. Starting with a few families and some friends it has multiplied and having maxed out their previous sanctuary, they recently expanded and leased a whole third floor besides the floor they were at.

Despite its size there are no full time pastors or administrative staff. Everyone chips in as they best can, including the pastor, who holds a busy managing director’s post in a Malaysian multi-national company.

Shangri-la sophisticationThe pastor was a Methodist lay leader who has “been there, done that” in every charismatic wave from spiritual gifts, church growth, worship, to prayer warfare, and missions and cell group system, etc. What finally liberated and gained a permanent grip of him was the message of grace which he first heard from Joseph Prince’s tapes. They ran with the message but at the same time made it uniquely theirs.

There is no personality cult and the pastor is a level headed, humble, unassuming and wise leader who also welcomes and allows others with gifts and maturity to help in the task of serving God’s Word and His people. He has built a strong team of preachers and teachers of grace.

He is discerning and wary of doing church the way he used to, having seen the futile and frustrating fruit of human-reliant efforts. So he observes the motions of grace and life in the congregation and facilitates their expressions, rather than imitate whatever is currently popular in the conference circuit, or merely adopt best practices of bigger churches. “Want to” instead of “have to” is one such sign of such movements of grace within the church. The church is growing naturally and organically and at a pace that does not become a yoke of burden.

The church does not teach tithing and believes that it is part of the Old Covenant but believes that new covenant giving comes out of gratitude and overflowing life and the amount given should be as a person decides in his own heart. There are no offering bags passed around but there are boxes located at different parts of the facility for those who wish to give.

They teach the Bible systematically in their services working through books of the Bible or topical themes and highlighting and explaining how the texts point to Christ, the new covenant and the grace of God.

They have informally networked with many other “grace-based” churches in Malaysia and are helping a network of churches in Jakarta, in addition to their partnership with Cambodia’s Barnabas Mam’s church planting movement.

You can read my other reports on the new covenant church in these links:

Jun 2010 report

Jan 2011 report

April 2011 report

DUMC raid: it’s about what’s right for the marginalized

Shock at DUMC raid by Jais

Already there had been issues that had risen in the recent decade with rights of Muslim converts to Christianity to change their designation on their ID, the Alkitab issue, and the accompanying bomb blast at a Kuala Lumpur church. Last week, with shock I read that the Damansara Utama Methodist Church(DUMC) was raided by 20-30 Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) officers. Just June, last year, I had been at dumcthe Petaling Jaya megachurch. The church’s community arm, Harapan Komuniti was holding a dinner event to thank its donors, leaders, volunteers and the beneficiaries of the NGO that assists the poor and the needy, including women, children, and victims of HIV/AIDS and natural disasters, regardless of race or religion. Most governments would be happy to see volunteer organizations raise funds and mobilize volunteers to help needy citizens. But reportedly, having received a complaint, the religious officers had gone to the Aug 3 event at 9.45pm to check if there were Muslims present which is not allowed under the Syariah Criminal Enactment (Selangor) 1995.

The Singapore way

Without patronising or saying that we have a better way of managing such matters in Singapore, or that I endorse it, inter religious harmony legislation has been accompanied by comprehensive pre-emptive monitoring of the relations between the religions. It is common knowledge among pastors of megachurches and mullahs of popular mosques that in their audience there may be plainclothes intelligence  officers taping and listening for speeches that may incite inter-religious trouble. Complaints from the public are followed through judiciously. Phone calls and appointments have been made to give caution. Hands have been slapped before, public warnings have been issued, but never an intrusion of such expression nor proportion.

Searching for political capital instead of the capital’s marginalized

When the politicians came into the picture to squeeze some capital out of it, the issue seemed to have developed a life of its own . It is certainly fascinating for a Singaporean like me to follow the ongoing news reports, though for a Malaysian it would probably be viewed with consternation and frustration. To have an idea of how different parasites are feeding off this situation, read Wyngman’s obsevations in his blog post of how six “blinded” parties “see” the raid: The DUMC raid: are we forgetting someone?

He concludes with a poignant appeal for everyone to focus on the real issue, and he is right:

In a word, the politically motivated see only what they want to see. But what they can’t see is that segment which they must be most responsible for i.e. the least of ‘the people’. I’m talking about the homeless, the AIDS victim, the drug addict, the retarded, the orphan, the widow, the handi-capped i.e. the very people for whom the DUMC dinner was thrown – who sees them? Only, it seems, DUMC and Harapan Komuniti.

The drug addicts and homeless are those which society doesn’t enjoy seeing, so all the more reason why our leaders must take a good hard look at how they came to be. The orphans are the ones for whom GE13 will make hardly a whiff of difference, so it’s critical that voters make a difference at GE13 bearing these children in mind. The handicapped are the ones who will continue to suffer after the media shit’s been cleaned (off the fans and the surrounding ‘areas’), so we need to bring them to the top of our political priorities lest it makes our talk of justice and a ‘high-income society’ full of shit.

A Muslim cleric who sees more clearly

Blogger James Lim in a blogpost cited a report by the Malaysian Insider that Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, an influential Muslim cleric and former Perlis mufti said it was not a sin for Muslims to receive aid from non-Muslims and questioned the efficiency of the distribution of zakat(alms) to the poor. He is reported to have said:

“Where have all our wang zakat (alms) gone? Collections of hundreds of millions of ringgit are announced every year,” said Asri in an essay sent to The Malaysian Insider today.

“Is it not enough to help the poor get out of their poverty without them having to ask others for help?” he questioned.

“Why is there so much red tape blocking the poor from getting alms? There is so much red tape just to get even RM100 to RM200. This is despite the zakat offices looking opulent, the high salaries for officers and bosses, and advanced equipment,” Asri lamented.

“Is the high cost meant only to find donors, but without sufficient willpower to find suitable recipients?” he asked.

“It is the right of anyone to help whomever they want. As long as rules and laws are followed, one can help another regardless of race or religion,” said Asri.

“There are many questions that Muslims must ask themselves before blaming others,” said Asri.

True religion

The tragic fact is that after all have been said and done about this issue, people are going to assert that they are in the right and others are wrong, and the marginalized will continue to be the neglected marginalized. But it’s not about who is in the right, but it’s all about what’s the right, compassionate thing that Malaysian society are going to do about the marginalized. Will all currently interested parties step in to contribute their abundant gifts of energy, time and money to help them?

Only they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (Galatians 1:10)

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to9 keep oneself unstained from the world.(James 1:27)

Durians, Texans, and the River of Life

Leonard, Carmen, Alex, Jenny, Karen

Durian downloads

On Thursday, my wife joined me and we were brought by two couples Alex and Karen, and Leonard and Carmen to a seafood joint near Sungei Way Methodist Church. Aileen Lee was with us. We had our fill of crabs and prawn and shellfish. We enjoyed the meal and the fellowship. After all I have been having a lot of Indian food and chicken rice before that. We shared about how each husband proposed to their wives, and the most romantic was the one done at Eiffel’s Tower. How to top Durian download slowed down..that? Only one thing can top that: a durian feast. Off we went to SS2. In Petaling Jaya, there are all these section this, and section that, to identify locations. Why is it SS and not just S, nobody knows. Maybe it’s sub-section for SS. Anyway the durian feast was great: firstfruits of the season. In a few weeks, we will see a tsunami of durians in Singapore. Maybe by May the seventh, to celebrate a new merdeka. Like the wedding at Cana, we started with the Leonard and Carmenlow grade(XO) – yes, I was surprised too! – to higher grade, Jantan – to even higher grade, Kunyit. Why these names when they could name their fruit after their Prime Ministers? Like, have you tried the Mahathir? Hmmm, bitter sweet? Anyway, we could not continue so we rolled over into the car and left. Next time, we’ll go for maotsetong.

Jonathan, Esther, Roger Sapp, TJ

The Texans

On Friday night, and Saturday we attended a healing seminar by Roger Sapp and his sidekick from Texas. He taught us how we can appropriate healing because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. He’s been doing this for decades. He trained us in praying for the sick in a relaxed way, and to be patient and persistent in our faith. Watching him work at close quarters was enlightening and he was spouting out knowledge and tips while he prayed for different individuals. Like a live demonstration. Pain and aches and healings from restricted movements were the easiest to observe and to be encouraged about. Others were less obvious and waits to be manifested and proven.  It was also a red lettered day for me at the seminar as I received from Kung a 180-G external hard disk of messages of different gospel preachers like Andrew Wommack, Paul White, tNCC preachers, etc. Well it looks like the Lord has a spiritual program arranged for my sabbatical.

equipping others to pray for the sick

Jenny, Aileen, Pastor Ang Chui Cheng, Pastor Ang Siew Khim, Kenny

The River of Life Sanctuary

On Sunday, a brother by the name of Teoh, picked my wife and I from the Bible College of Malaysia and brought us to the River of Life Sanctuary, a church founded by Pastor Ang Siew Khim and her husband, Ang Chui Cheng. They ministered with great impact in a few of our church meetings and camps in the area of inner healing and deliverance and prophecy. We were blessed by Mrs Ang’s ministry, but have been out of contact for over a decade. Since I was in Petaling Jaya, I felt compelled Mrs Ang teaching at T Net before the Serviceto visit, and was glad I did.

Many middle aged

They are both in their seventies and looked healthy and well. They were slower but the grace of God was evident on them. She hardly aged and I told her so. Pastor Ang Chui Cheng led in worship. They say he was a great worship leader in Full Gospel Assembly, KL, during their revival days, and as he led us, I could see why. It was one of those “oldies” kind of worship, children's ministry: mainly Chin Myanmese refugee kidswhere you could sing every song, because most were songs from the last two decades. The age group of the majority seems to be in their mid-40’s, 50’s and 60’s, so I am sure there were no complaints, and I could hear people around me singing. Quite enjoyable. The guest speaker was Christina Ang, an Indian lady married to Dr Paul Ang, and she preached a message titled, Launch Out Into the Deep. Want to use my net, Lord. Want to use my net.

Pastor Ang leading the worship

To do justly

Pastor Ang told me that the church did quite a bit of work with illegal migrants from Myanmar. They in fact offered their church premises as a UN refugees registration center and about 3,000 Myanmese without papers signed up over a short Datuk Paul Low of Transparency International, Malaysiaperiod. Many of the children of these refugees form the bulk of their children ministry.

After the service, we were served lunch, and we met a Datuk Paul Low, who is the President of Transparency International, Malaysia. It struck me that the political and economic malaise that is Malaysia has given rise to Christians who are unafraid to speak out in the public square. Transparency International publishes an annual corruption index based on polls of significant organization executives. Each nation is put on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the least corrupt. For the last two years Malaysia has been hovering between 4 and 5. Singapore is about 9.

Aileen and Christine

eating in the open air by the streetAileen Lee was in church with us. She was from our church in Singapore but now lived and worked in Petaling Jaya. She drove us around and was a gracious host to us. She brought us to her home and my wife and I relaxed in a hydrotherapy tub(stop imagining things, will ya). In the evening we met with Christine herbelow a church daughter whom we had not seen for many years. This law graduate from the University of Manchester, had decided to turn down an offer to work in a legal department of a firm in Singapore, and to work in Malaysia, with the goal of starting her own business one day.  It seems to climb the corporate ladder, Malaysians prefer Singapore. But to do business, Kuala Lumpur is preferred. She has matured, and she has a goal, and she attends SIB KL – I was happy to see both their stability.

Kenny, Christine, Aileen, Jenny

We had been spoilt with wonderful restaurant food by our tNCC hosts, so this time round they treated us to a coffee shop delicious hawker farespread near their home. It looked popular with all the tables and chairs on the streets in the open air, crowded with people even before dark. Was I hungry or was the food just plain tastier than Singapore fare?, I wondered. Sedap. To cool down and stand on the edge of gluttony cliff, we had Taiwanese iced desserts. This would be the second time I had felt bloated and rounded as I laid my head to rest that night.

The New Covenant Church: this is how church is meant to be

Pastor Peter and Kenny at Duck Inn, PJ

Grace happenings

Pastor Peter welcomed me warmly with a dinner on Friday evening at Duck Inn- a place where the lowly duck has gone four stars. Eusoffe and Joey and he regaled me with story after story of how God had been at work in the New Covenant Church. Changed lives, healings, answered prayers, and marriages in reconciliation. The last time I was here was January, but the stories they told animatedly were mostly fresh. From 8 we talked, or rather they talked and I wah-ed, till 10.  A distinct thought Eusoffe n Joeycame to mind – This is what church is meant to be. There should be wondrous grace happenings that are not cooked up by human shoving and whipping. Where Jesus was exalted, and the actors felt they were privileged to be in the front row to watch what God had done. This is what church is meant to be: people focused on what God was doing and not on what the church was lacking.

More grace happenings

The next day, Simon Yap brought me out for lunch. We wanted to eat from a famous K.L. “all black” Hokkien mee stall, but it was closed. As it turned out, we had food to eat that was better: stories of faith and God’s grace in action. He shared his journey and Kenny n Simon(how can a Spurs fan wear Barcelona?)some interesting grace happenings that took place some years ago and some as recent as a week ago. Ahh…another immersion in wonder.  God’s grace is amazing. Again I thought, This is what church is meant to be. Exciting. Christ-exalting. No one taking the glory. Believers who were deeply satisfied and caught up in one lovely surprise after another. When I sensed  a “cloud” of his presence settled, I told him- I want to be alone to process this and spend some time with the Lord.

Sitting quiet in the bible college apartment, I whispered – Lord, this is what church is meant to be. This is what church is meant to be.

Bow bent, string drawn

The rest of the day was spent to order the thoughts for the message for the church on Sunday. What have I to say to these people who seem to be experiencing the early showers of a book of Acts downpour. I was too smart to have accepted this invitation, I thought. Should have told Peter I was on sabbatical, period. However, by evening, all was ready, and the bow was bent, and the string was drawn.

Sunday, Facebook, and healing

At Sunday breakfast, Peter was sharing a pastoral case, as he didn’t want me to get the wrong idea that there were no problems. Being with the New Covenant Church was comfortable because I was there before and because of Facebook. Wanted to see friends I had added, but wondered if I would recognize them if they had not introduced themselves. As it happened, I could not.

praise team

The praise and music had progressed and there seemed to be an enriched sense of God’s presence. The worship leader, Karen, was Karen caught up in Himwith it, and in it, and caught up in Him. This was followed by holy communion, which they served every Sunday. Later Chermaine testified how she had been suffering from chronic pain after giving birth to her child twelve years ago. The piercing pain would shoot down her back to her legs occasionally when she stood up. One night she was prayed for and she felt a lasting warmth on her back. After a Chermaine: healed!!!few days she discovered she was completely well and could even jump about for joy. It was no small thing for her to be set free completely.

Baptized in the Father’s Love

The title of the sermon I preached was “Baptized in the Father’s Love” and I dwelt on two key passages: Mark’s account of Jesus baptism, and Zephaniah’s famous 3:17-

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”.

It was a gradual build up, and their warm response to what I was saying, and the anointing, lifted me beyond self-consiousness, and I felt the message was getting through. I told the Sunday morning crowd, which seemed fuller than three months ago, This is what church is meant to be: where grace happenings fall like gentle rain week after week. We ended up with a beautiful response: we stood and worshipped, and the Lord  soaked us in His love.

Billy, Kenny, Alex, Simon, Amy

E-book

They served lunch every Sunday and I caught up with the people I knew like Aileen Tan, Billy, Simon and Alex. Talked for quite some time with Billy, an entrepreneur who had just recently ventured in an online business. What perked my interest was that he had already been selling an e-book and audio book online for some time, and I found out more. Lord give me an idea for an e-book.