2012 Church camp in Penang

over 200 at the opening night

Penang church camp

Its church camp season again. Malaysian hotels lay out the red carpets to Singapore churches and rake in the Singapore dollar. This time round our church camp was held in Bayview Hotel at Batu Ferringhi in Penang. When they proposed Penang it seemed an organizational jungle and obstacle course. That was a year ago, now it’s past tense and the organizing team did a great job of delivering one of our best camps ever.

Ps Vincent and Jenny LunProgram lite

Pastor Vincent Lun was the camp speaker and together with his wife Jenny they brought to us an appreciation of what it takes to be church that welcomes sinners the way Jesus did. They have left what could have been a comfortable pastorate at Riverlife Church and have pioneered a unique missional outpost that reaches the outcasts and rejects and despised of  society. They share what it meant to do ministry among such precious but forgotten people. We were blessed by their open sharing of their lives and ministry.

We keep our church camp sessions light. Those were the days decades back when 6-8 sessions is the norm. Now together with revised goals we have a revised program with four preaching sessions, two light sessions of icebreakers and games, and one session of holy communion and group sharing. We introduced an interesting idea: we got 4 young preachers to preach sermonettes of 10 minutes each. One thing we small churches can choose to excel in is to handcraft and develop emerging leadership.

Of chendol and durians

chendol along street

There was time for us to go tour Penang and shop twice. The memorable one for me was when we were dropped off at Komtar Shopping Mall and from there four of us went in search of the Penang durian and chendol. We found the famous chendol stall and there was a constant crowd. The sun was beating us down and the humidity was worse than in Singapore. I was not that impressed with the taste. I prefer my chendol with thicker coconut milk- a stronger punchy gula malacca in it. Beware the other store just opposite which has more signs to claim they are “the real thing”. Where there is genuine, there is the counterfeit seeking space. This happens in the spiritual as well as in the natural.

Having a durian with Paul Chan

Paul, Thomas Tan and Lee Wai Tuck: enduring love of spikey

Searching for the durian was quite a task as we had to ask locals for direction and it was after 45 minutes of walking that we determined Singaporeans finally found the stall opposite some UMNO building. The first durian he sold us was more sweet than bitter, something we could have found in Singapore. Then he tempted us with a red marked durian. It looked a pale yellow. But when we put it into our mouth it was smooth, creamy and not mushy nor dry but of perfect constitution. The taste was a perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness and a hint of wine. I have stumbled upon an unforgettable durian experience. I couldn’t figure out his Hokkien accent and though we asked him to repeat a few times the name of the durian variety we had just tasted, the closest it sounded to my ears was “Capri”. Durian has gone upmarket and Italian.

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.