Posted on 21 Nov 2016 by Barnabas Liew
Hi, welcome to my first blog! I’m not exactly great at writing but this is what I’ve come up with after various attempts, so here goes…
The boy from Tawau
Born and bred in a small town in Sabah, it was fun growing up as a Tawau boy. Though it may seem boring or lifeless to some, I did like it very much – everything was so slow and chilled, free of worries and stress. I lived near a beach where I would go alone most nights to catch fish either for food or to keep as pets. I just love the jungle and everything in it; the bugs, worms, trees, small plants, snakes, wild boars, birds, fish, and especially the river. I was so close to nature that my friends would tease me that even my house looked like a jungle!
Then you might ask, did you even study? Yes, I did. But not very much unfortunately, which is something I really regret…wish I could turn back time and study harder.
Besides playing “Tarzan”, I love music and I play the bass. I’m no pro, but I can play okay-ish. To be fair, not all Sabahans are like me, I am admittedly a little odd. And I think my parents are quite odd too, which is how I ended up this way (just kidding!).
From Tarzan to MTS
Anyway, this blog is supposed to be about my experience in MTS. So long story short, the Holy Spirit worked in my life and brought me to CERC to be convicted of my unrighteousness and my depravity. I didn’t get it overnight, but my dull mind was slowly illuminated to see the truth about God and the great work of His Son on the cross that convicted me of my selfish and rebellious life of ignoring God.
I was brought up in a Christian family; I knew of God but I didn’t understand Him, neither did I seek for Him. I never gave thanks to Him or gave Him the honour that He deserves. I had missed out on this great news of hope in Christ for the past 20 years of my life, whilst calling myself a Christian the whole time.
After many months of listening to sermons that proclaimed God’s truth and learning more about God in Growth Groups, I knew that my church, my family and my friends needed this hope in their hopelessness. So I decided to give it my best shot at being a minister of God. And that’s how I ended up in MTS.
The whole process from deciding to actually starting MTS took me about a whole year. First I had to let go of an ungodly relationship. Then, I had to prove that I could actually study, so I took a term in the Moore Theological College correspondence course. I took on 6 subjects and aimed for a Distinction and above for all of them. I also started helping out with some church work and landed myself a part-time job to learn responsibility and service to the church.
After getting my Distinctions (praise God!), I repented of particular sins, which was necessary as a Christian, more so one about to be trained to lead the church. It was a huge struggle overall, but I thank God for His grace and His discipline that I made it to MTS and am currently in my 2nd year.
A completely different life – but worth it
Living the life of a minister-in-training is totally different from the life I had back in Sabah. There is no “chilling”, no fishing every day, no driving sports cars with my buddies, and no more excuses not to study anymore. These may seem like a lot to give up, but it pales in comparison to what I have gained in Christ.
Sometimes, I do find it weird to explain this change to my friends that I don’t even know where to start. Gradually, one or two of my friends could tell the difference in my speech, such that one friend got convicted of the gospel and is now a Christian serving on one of the university campuses. I thank God for His work in me; back when I called myself a Christian, I wouldn’t have spoken to my friends about the gospel – I found it too embarrassing to do.
MTS: God’s strength shown in my weakness
Day and night, I think about God’s church and His people. Day and night I think about how I am so incompetent for this job that I stress out about it. My weaknesses and sins are so great that I don’t know how I can show my Lord the results. Yes, I know Christ has done it on the cross, but the cross should be reflected in my life, and God deserves so much better than the crappy work I have to offer.
While there have been many downs during my time of training so far, there have also been a few ups which I am thankful to God for.
The ups are the miracles that God has worked in my experience in ministry thus far. While doing campus bible studies, running CERC Growth Groups and Evangelistic events, I come across many different people with different backgrounds, and sometimes I might think, “This person may be converted more easily than the other”. But the reality is, it is not up to me or what I say or how persuasive I am, but it is up to God who has predestined His people to be holy and blameless before Him.
Testimonies after testimonies, I see people praising God because of His great work on the cross, and now they are serving in CF, working hard for their churches and growing deeper in their love for God. There are even new converts who have made their families unhappy, because they want to honour Jesus. The tension that they endure with their families is something that I have never experienced, but it is encouraging to see them make a stand for Christ and struggle to be able to come to church.
I am always encouraged by these things that the Lord has done. Although I am not doing a great job, but God has used me and revealed Himself to these people through His words, such that they are now transformed to live for Him. And this spurs me on to persevere in Christ till the end, knowing it is not I, but He who does the work.
I’ll write more about my experience running conferences and church camp in my next blog, so stay tuned. Till next time!