Top left clockwise – Group pic, Opening of a new road, Roadwork completed, Carrying timber. Photo credit – SMPC
Story by James TC Wong, Contributors – Rev. Jabez Tiong, Colin Wong, Jason Soh, Adam Tiong
MIRI- Senadin Methodist Preaching Centre (SMPC) organized its first mission trip to Pa’ Adang from 29 June to 6 July recently.
Led by Rev Jabez Tiong, the majority members were from SMPC. Life Methodist Church, Hwai En Methodist Church and Permy Methodist Church also sent senior adult members to assist.
The main objective of the mission was to provide infrastructural support; transporting aggregate stones and sand for the following mission team to construct a new church in Pa’ Adang. A roadwork to enable vehicular transport was also opened from the river bank to the new church.
“In terms of stamina and physical work, the Miri Curtin Campus students found the trip to be extremely challenging,” said Rev. Jabez. “This was because they had never experienced this arduous job before,” added the pastor-in-charge of SMPC. The good shepherd was also quick to commend that he was proud of the team overcoming various challenges and members were able to focus on the tasks at hand by following a disciplined schedule without the distractions and availability of internet access and telecommunications.
The ministries of the Children’s Sunday School and Social Concerns were an integral part of the mission as well. Using interesting thematic methods, the teachers were able to teach the Penan children with different approach.
“I would like to thank Grace Methodist Church for supporting this mission trip financially. I also wish to appreciate the four adults from our other Methodist churches who play a supervisory role; taking care of the students by providing food and teaching them living skills which they could never learn in the lecture halls. May all the glory be to our Heavenly Father,” summed up Rev. Jabez.
MY PA’ ADANG STORY by Colin Wong
GREETINGS and may the peace of the Lord be with you!
I joined Pa’ Adang mission trip as I was invited by my senior, Jason Soh. At first I was reluctant because I intended to proceed with my research project during the semester break. However, he asked me this question: “God or study comes first?” I was shaken and persuaded. I was then assigned to the Children’s Sunday School ministry.
Before the mission trip, our pastor kept on reminding members that we were not going for a holiday. To serve, we had to adapt and be prepared for any circumstances and changes, he warned us.
The life in Pa’Adang is completely different from that of a city. There are no 24-hours electricity supply, no internet connection, no air-conditioning and inadequate water supply (where all men including pastor were required to bathe in the river). Due to the need of building a new church, all men were required to do physical labor (to move stones and sand) while women were mostly in charge for the Children’s Ministry and meal preparations. I was excited and energized on the first day work as it was a new experience.
Nonetheless my physical strength started to diminish after a few days. I was tired and unenthusiastic. My feet and hands were bitten by sand flies. The irritation made me uncomfortable and frustrated. I began to complain inside my heart. I forgot the objective of this mission trip, that was – to serve.
Thank God, my attitude and thoughts changed when I was working with Pastor Jabez. He did not complain – neither did he show any grievances or dissatisfaction albeit the trying circumstances. At that moment, I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I realized how weak I was – spiritually, physically and emotionally! Instead of complaining, I could have thanked God that He provided us good weather, breathtaking scenery and sufficient food and drinks. Although some fell sick, I could thank God that He has not let anyone of us be injured or harmed. If only I could be faithful in these little things, then I can be entrusted with the larger ones.
On the fifth day, the second mission trip team arrived in the evening. The team comprised of brothers and sisters -in-Christ with distinguished professions. Due to the rain, they arrived slightly later than expected. Therefore they had to work overnight after dinner to build the foundation. I joined them. When I saw all of them working collaboratively and wholeheartedly, my heart was deeply moved. Everyone was faithful in their work for the Lord, and not for men. The scene reminded me that we are each part of the body of Christ, and we are gifted in different areas. When we act on the gifts given and work together heartily, we can do great things.
I hope that I am able to apply my knowledge not only in my future job, but also in God’s work. I hope I can serve more willingly and faithfully.
Proverbs 3: 5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”
My Pa’ Adang Story by Jason Soh
IT WAS a wonderful 8-day mission trip travelling from Miri to Lawas, and from Lawas to Pa’ Adang, and back.
I spent a total of 6 days there to have a better experience with God. Technology has been one of the factors that causes the ignorance of God’s creation. Throughout this journey without any distraction from hi-tech devices, I was to able see Mother Nature with a better insight.
I could see and hear the cries of the needy to build up their physical and spiritual needs. From this mission trip, I have realized that it is insufficient to support the natives financially only; manpower is also very crucial. One of the limitations of the natives has is education. Therefore it will be good to focus on education to secure the future of the younger generations and create awareness in the world’s happenings.
The sermon preached by Pastor Yahya struck me in living my daily life. He preached “Strengthening our faith in the world today”. An example given by him was “building houses on rock and building houses on sand”. He reiterated an underlying basis that we have to be strong in our faith by reading the Bible and doing God’s work to prevent our “house” to fall.
Furthermore the preaching from Pastor Yahya brought a great impact to my life. He spoke on his acceptance of Christ and his experience of being a pastor in Pa’ Adang. It was a great testimony seeing how God has chosen His people to commence His ministry in the great place Pa Adang. It is my pleasure to meet Pastor Yahya and to know more about him. His sacrifice of moving from the urban town to a rural place has humbled me greatly.
In Matthew 19:26 – Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” This has inspired me that “with God everything is possible”. No matter how small and insignificant we are, if we have faith in God, everything is achievable.
My Pa’Adang Story by Adam Tiong
AS WE disembarked next to the river, I jumped off the pickup truck and stretched. A little distance away was the 50-meter wide river that we had to cross to reach Pa’Adang, our mission field. We all began to unload all the equipment, materials and personal luggage. We began forming a relay line across the river to move all the things from one side of the river to the other.
Transporting our things through teamwork.
Our mission to Pa’ Adang was to assist the Penan people living there to construct a new church so that their old church can be converted into a school. Pa’ Adang is not accessible by road hence all the materials used for construction have to be carried into the Pa’Adang village.
Our mission team’s objective was to pave the way for the next mission team that would be arriving the following week. That team was led by Rev. Ling Biu and would continue the construction of the new church which they hoped to complete. Our team would attempt to collect as many raw materials such as sand and stones for the team, including doing some other preparatory work such as road construction and hostel building.
While I was helping to carry all our equipment from the river to the village, I decided to carry two items; a heavy piece of roofing felt and another smaller plastic bag filled with odds and ends. It was approximately one kilometer walk to the village. At the beginning, it was relatively easy even though the roofing felt was quite heavy. Overtime though as I began to tire, I couldn’t hold the roofing felt properly as the plastic bag of odd and ends became quite troublesome.
Looking back while writing this testimony, I realized that this situation reflects certain parts of my walk with God. In becoming a disciple of Christ, I have learned to carry my Cross through life. However along the way we become so bogged down with other worries of life that carrying the cross seems harder than ever and we are sorely tempted to put it down. The opposite in fact should be the case. By setting aside all other worries and focusing on carrying our cross, our journey through life will be a lot easier and purposeful with Christ by our side.
For the first two days that we were there, the men were divided into two groups. One group was to collect and transport sand and stones from the nearby riverside to the building site, and another group to clear and prepare a temporary road up to the building site from the existing church. I volunteered to join the group that was going to create the road, seeing as I had never done that before.
Under the supervision of Bro. Gilbert Hii, we began to clear and level a road from the bottom of the hill where the old church is located, up to the top of the hill where the building site for the new church is located. We began by clearing away the undergrowth that blocked a straight path up to the building site, and then leveling any uneven ground with gardening hoes and shoveling the excess dirt into holes or low parts of the road to make it more even.
During the first day working on the road, I decided to do all I could and put all my energy into it. I tried to work and hard and as fast as I could, and at the beginning declined to take a break even when I felt tired. By the end of that first day I had lost all my energy and even fell sick going into the second day. I had to take the second afternoon off to recover from my sickness.
While recovering, I realized that I had fallen into the trap of taking too much pride in myself. Most of the time, we become prideful in the form of boasting or recognition. However from this experience, I realized that choosing not to admit our weakness is also a form of pride that is equally dangerous. By admitting that we are weak or lost in certain parts of our lives, we can then allow God help us in those areas. By allowing God to work in our lives, we can then benefit ourselves, the people around us and the work we do for our Lord.
Going back to work the following day, I decided to go join the group collecting sand and stones at the riverbank, as I heard that there would be more shade there so I could recover better. Working slowly, I understood that I had reached my limit the day before by overextending myself in the work process. By focusing too much on the work and what I myself could do, I forgot to focus on God in the process of the mission. It was a sharp reminder that we all are God’s tools and we need to be humble enough to set aside all our worries and pride to let God work through us.
Collecting sand and stones.
All throughout the mission I was constantly reminded at the beauty of God’s creation. As we woke up at around 6am every morning for daily devotion, we could see the breaking of dawn as the sunlight hits the hilltops surrounding Pa’Adang that were still covered with low hanging clouds. Cold crisp air gave way to a clean fresh earthly smell as the day progressed to noontime. After work each day, all the men would bathe in the river to conserve water in the hostel. The river is very clean and we used it for bathing and washing our clothes. There is a part of the river that rushes over a bed of rocks which is ideal for scrubbing our clothes. The water is clean and cold, and rushes along quite fast which makes it ideal for rinsing. In the deeper part of the river, the current slows and turns greenish as it becomes deeper, making a very refreshing scene. As night, the air turns fresh and cold again, and due to the lack of night activities, we sit around the dining table talking and singing along to songs from our mission pamphlets until we went off to sleep around 10 pm.
This mission trip helped me understand more about myself in terms of my values and understanding God. It also enabled me to be closer to God’s creation; to understand why and how we go about doing His will. Although it was a tough week, all in all it was one of the most memorable missions I have ever been and I thank the Lord for leading me to Pa’Adang.