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What does Merdeka really mean to you?
“Malaysia Prihatin”- Inilah tema untuk Hari Merdeka dan Hari Malaysia. It’s chosen to appreciate Malaysians’ spirit of care and concern, determination, and perseverance in working together to overcome the challenges posed to the entire nation this year.
Indeed, as we look back on the months gone by since the breakout of Covid-19 earlier this year, we witnessed how the people of Malaysia truly banded together in bringing the pandemic under control. With all the safety measures locked in, we thank God that our normal lives have returned gradually, while adapting to the new normal. Once again, after being locked down for weeks (pretty unbearable for some of us!), we once again taste the freedom of returning to school, going shopping, dining out with friends, and for PJEFC and other churches, we are back to meeting physically in church.
Freedom. Merdeka. Independence.
On 31st August 1957, when Tunku Abdul Rahman shouted ‘Merdeka’ 7 times, it literally meant our country’s freedom from the fetters of colonisation. It’s been now over 6 decades since that iconic day; much has changed since. What does it really mean today? Does it hold the same meaning for us, as it did for our parents or grandparents? Or is it just another public holiday to sleep in? Does it even matter?
For me, merdeka is first and foremost a reminder to appreciate the sacrifices our forefathers made to free our nation from being subjects of a colonial master, having the responsibility to rule ourselves as we see fit. It means sovereignty from external powers. At the same time, being free also means the rights guaranteed under the Federal Constitution are protected – ie, rights to education, rights to economic opportunities, rights to express one’s opinions, rights to life, and rights to personal liberty.
Merdeka in the context of our nation means togetherness to me; every single anak Malaysia fighting together as one in ensuring all communities in this land are safe, prospering and flourishing- just as we have done in our battle against the spread of Covid-19. In my mind, merdeka also means the freedom to live as each one desires, although it doesn’t mean that you can ‘do whatever you like’. And that’s why as a side note, even though the law says we can freely roam- like it or not, please wear your mask to protect others from the spread of the virus. To not do so is selfish and even evil. After all, isn’t this the freedom Christ-followers are exhorted to participate in? 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (1 Pet 2.16-17). So don’t cover up for evil, but instead, use our freedom to ‘cover up’ for another’s sake.
Real freedom must be guided by our love for another and leaving no one behind as we secure the future of our nation. Malaysia is ours as long as our heart finds it able to freely embrace others as one of us. To me, this is the spirit behind each merdeka I celebrate.
My prayer is that this spirit of unity, caring and sharing, and working together (the prihatin spirit) as a people will be revived among all Malaysians as we celebrate Merdeka 2020.
Selamat Hari Merdeka and soon, Hari Malaysia!
Pastor, Family Life and Community Transformation
By Joshua Simon
TEE Bible Classes
Due to the lockdown, our regular Bible study sessions were affected as we were not able to gather at homes to do so. Thanks to technology such as Zoom, we are now able to conduct remote Bible study sessions.
Our aim from these Bible studies is to cultivate a culture of discipleship among the community and to develop the next generation of church leadership.
Lucky and Jaswinder have accepted the Lord
Lucky and Jaswinder hail from a Sikh Punjabi background, having arrived in Malaysia from India. They got in touch with us through the PRO (PJEFC Reaches Out) Initiative. As a result from the love and support shown to them during this difficult period, my relationship with both husband and wife became closer. They began to open up and share more about the problems they faced. In the midst of it were supernatural activities that were taking place at home, affecting Lucky specifically, as his family believes in charms and witchcraft. They wanted to break free but were afraid of the spirits that might harm them.
I assured them that if you believe in Jesus Christ, He will protect you. I started to share Scriptures with them and we started to have daily prayer meetings over WhatsApp at 8pm. One day as we were praying, Lucky was attacked by evil spirits and fell on the ground. But when we prayed in the name of Jesus, he was released. At that time, they both confessed that they will follow Jesus Christ. I am glad that we finished the Gospel of Matthew together. God has done many things in their life since then, which I have not mentioned here. They are currently looking forward to being baptised. Praise the Lord!
Young people, mental health and empathic listening
By Joash & Shirley Pak
Young people are at the life stage of trying to make sense of their identity and belonging. At this stage, they really need people whom they feel will listen to them, understand and support them, especially when a young person has poor mental health or a mental illness.
When young people experience mental health issues or mental illness, it is a really hard place for them to be in. Toss in a pandemic like the one we currently face and it can be extremely tough on them.
Some statistics from the Mental health statistics in Malaysia on young people, National health & morbidity survey 2015
- The overall prevalence of mental health problem among children was 12.1% (children = 5 to 15 years old).
- Every 3 in 10 adults aged 16 years and above have some sorts of mental health problems (29.2%).
Image these were pre-Covid figures – how much higher they are now! That’s why it’s really important we remember young people during this time. In these situations, we need to practice James 1:19, “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”.
The Church needs to be a safe space with safe people where everyone can feel listened to, loved and cared for. Imagine if everyone used empathic listening to increase their understanding of each other, without any judgement or dispensing advice too quickly; there could be significantly less mental health problems. Therefore, it is important build empathic listening skills.
“For a person experiencing a mental health problem, having an empathetic listener can be calming and reassuring – even healing.” – Mental Health First Aid USA, 2017
What is one way we can learn more about young people and mental health? If you want to learn how to listen effectively, come join us for the Stretcher-Bearer Dialogue series in September.
By Edwin Kee
Earlier this year when I scanned the board meeting minutes and AGM reports of the years gone by, it was thrilling to recount the excitement that spilled over from the yellowing pages concerning answered prayers, miracles, and numerous souls being won to the Lord on an almost weekly basis that fueled the exponential growth of the church. The culture of discipleship was well and alive, and when faced with different challenges, breakthroughs occurred that could only be attributed to intense intercession.
Holding on to the promise that our God “…is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we continue to persevere in prayer today. It is the deep desire of the prayer ministry to see a new generation of watchmen raised that will knock on heaven’s gates with audacious prayers, calling out to Him who is able to bring about a change not only in our land, but across the whole world as well in view of the global suffering that is further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Let us cling fast to the twin spiritual disciplines of fasting and prayer as we bring our petitions to God in persevering faith.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I was born into a Christian family and attended church and Sunday school from young. I have always seen people experience and communicate with God in many ways – through miracles, healing services, and having God talk to them. I, on the other hand, have never experienced these things before. I told myself that the day when I experience these things, I will want to get baptised. In recent months, I experienced many ups and downs as well as uncertainties about my future, but God showed me the way by opening doors that I never thought existed. Hence, I want to start afresh and get closer to Him. My baptism will be the first step. To be washed clean and reborn in the Holy Spirit, to have God as my compass, leading me to the destination planned for me. With His guiding hands, I will embark on this journey filled with uncertainties yet having peace as I know His plans are good.
SUNDAY SERMON (DISCIPLESHIP)
06 SEPT Family Discipleship : The Way Pastor – Dicky Wong
13 SEPT Major hindrance to deeper Christian discipleship – Pastor Dato Dr Daniel Ho (Philemon 1:4-12, 17-21).
20 SEPT What does it mean to YOU as a disciple of Jesus? – Cheong Chee Wai
27 SEPT My Discipleship Journey – Pastor Ruth Ng
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