The trip to the ancient city of Ephesus in 2009 was wonderful. The day was sunny and warm but dry. We walked for as much as two hours, stopped for photos and for historical information on display. The apostle Paul preached the gospel for over two years in Ephesus and the message spread around the whole province by word of mouth. In this city, God did extraordinary miracles through Paul the missionary “so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them”(Acts 19:12). Large parts of the city’s ruins remain well-preserved. As I walked the streets of stones, tested the natural acoustics in the auditoriums, and peered into halls, homes, libraries and gyms and toilets, I imagined Paul and his work in that thriving city. This was my second visit but found it astounding and eye-opeing.
Small church with mega impact
Rev Christina Jayarathnam greeted us at the car park of Citiraya Centre. “The service starts at 9.30am not at 9.00. Shall we have coffee?”. Over teh o, Christina shared about her husband’s dream several years ago. Rev Dr Amos Jayarathnam had dreamt of a tiger on a table which stared at him and said, “I am not going to harm you, why are you afraid of me?” The tiger then became a woman who led him to a bus and bid him to go with her. This dream actually prepared them to go help the tsunammi hit people of Vanni in Sri Lanka under the control of the Tamil Tigers. They later went and brought aid and relief to the people there through the church. Later on Rev Amos, would recognize the woman in the dream as the wife of the pastor they had partnered with in Vanni. Rev Amos, who is well accepted and regarded for his prophecies, later on, was a catalyst for prayer meetings in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. The meetings brought churches together to pray for peace in Sri Lanka. In one of the bigger meetings, Rev Amos prophesied, “There would be peace in Sri Lanka within two years!” A newsman put this on the front page of his newspaper. The thought was ridiculed. God, however, watched over His word, and accomplished it. Today there is peace in Sri Lanka.
Rev Amos Jayarathnam and I went back a long time to the late 1970’s. We were members of World Revival Prayer Fellowship. He played the bongo in the church service and I was a hungry believer. It was revival time and the Holy Spirit was working powerfully in people’s lives. At least 15 whom I know have felt the call of the Lord during that time have gone on to be full time pastors and missionaries and ministers. Amos and myself are just two of these.
Worshiping and preaching at Tabernacle of Holiness
Rev Xavier Dawes, who succeeded Rev Amos as senior pastor of the Tabernacle, had graciously invited me to preach at his church. For many years I had been unwilling to preach in other churches due to commitments at home. Now a seasoned pastor, Rev Chua Seng Lee, has joined the church team, and this has opened the way for me to take more speaking engagements and serve the larger body of Christ.
There were about 60 worshippers in the English service that Sunday. Most were Indians of different enthnic groups. There were Sindhis, Malayalees, Tamils and Gujeratis, Indonesians, Filippinos and some Chinese. Multi-ethnicity is one of the marks of the Spirit’s work and it was a joy to see that racial divides have been torn down in Christ.
The music was vibrant and was led by Joanna Jayarathnam, who spent two years training in Hillsongs, with one year of Bible, and another in music and worship. The influence of Hillsongs was evident and it helped me to pray and be filled with the Spirit. The sermon was based on Romans 1: 16, 17, about the revealed and received righteousness of God. The thoughts and words went forth with ease and I was pleased with the liberty and clarity. I pray they enjoyed the message and were blessed, as much as I was privileged in releasing it.
Punching above their weight
As I walked back to my church 10 minutes from TOH, I thought of Sri Lanka. I thought of TOH, a small church with a mega impact. People should stop looking down on small churches: many are punching above their weight. Its not a crime to be a small church; its a crime for a church to be small minded. Small churches deserve more respect and appreciation.
(Unable to post pics I took of the TOH pastors. The data was lost when I dropped my Nokia.)
Yangon assaulted me in broad daylight. The dry heat and dust of March just punched me up. I felt uncomfortable, sweaty, uncooperative and ever-eager to get back to that pocket of civilization called hotel.
“I am not cut out to be a missionary,” I told pastor Thomas. I know His grace is sufficient for all situations but it is packaged with the specific calling.
It was four days of meetings with pastors and workers we have supported in the past and present. We heard from our local mission partners of the progress and challenges of their work. We saw what progress was made and refreshed them with encouragement and resources.
How do you help poor people and instill the “can do” dignity in them? We have bought piglets for families. After 9 months the families can sell the grown pigs for a profit, a part of which is kept to buy another piglet, and the remainder used for education or other needs.
We explored the idea of alleviating the poverty of the ordinary, long-suffering Myanmese via micro-loans.
The schedule was not as punishing as previous trips I have made. The commutes in dirty bone-shaker cabs and trucks, with hot dusty air and sunshine beating on me sapped my energy.
The churches we visited were only an hour or more away but our butts were shaken sore and our faces were layered with dirt. Thank God the buses were required to use CNG as fuel or the pollution in our lungs would be as bad as China’s cities.
I came home on Monday night more drained than I had expected.