From the Board of Elders
Dear Members in Christ,
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.” Psalms 115:1.
The world today, including Malaysia, is still not out of the Covid-19 pandemic. There were earlier indications of emerging hope that Covid-19 is gradually going away. Unfortunately, it is not going to be. There are countries currently going through the second wave and many leading infectious disease experts forewarned of a possible third wave.
As Christians, we can say with strong conviction that God is in control. We can only wait upon Him to lift the pandemic. By now the world should know that the knowledge and the advance technology that man possesses, cannot stop this pandemic. Man must remember that God is Omnipotent and Omniscient. Man can only stand in awe before Him to ask for mercy and grace to overcome this unprecedented and deadly disease which had infected 21,828,997 globally, with death of 773,122 as of 17-08-2020.
It is also a lesson for His people. Many Christians before the pandemic do not take the Lord’s Worship service and other gatherings seriously. They have a life of abundance. Spiritual food and gatherings are for their pick and convenience.
Lo and behold, when the MCO was implemented in Malaysia on 18th March 2020, we in Calvary Jaya BP Fellowship suddenly realised that we miss the worship service, fellowships and the blessedness of God’s Word through study groups! It is a rude awakening!
It is in this time that our faith is made stronger and our walk with Christ strengthened. We see and experience God’s wonderful grace and mercy. We feel His hand leading us and His presence in our lives. We also thank Him in answering our cries to come together to worship Him during this trying time. Thank God for enabling brethren in providing for one another. As we are of different parts of the same body, serving the same body, the brethren using their God-given talents harnessed technology to meet the desires and demands of His people in worship, doctrine and fellowship.
We are glad that Deacon Seh Beng is able to capture the “behind the scenes”, the higher hands of God, in the following article on how God leads, answers prayers and raises up faithful brethren in times like this for His glory.
Let us remember to serve God and not to forget His goodness unto us. “… we will bless the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the LORD.” Psalms 115:18.
Eld. Choe Tong Seng
Praise and Thank God for the Re-Opening of In-person Worship
Introduction – a storm cloud darkened the skies
Since late 2019, the spread of the Covid-19 virus was getting international attention, and by early 2020, the situation was changing quickly. Countries were putting in place quarantine measures and restrictions to contain and prevent the spread of this infection. Malaysia too had taken health protection measures. Since the 18th of March this year, the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO) meant that places of worship had to cease gathering for any kind of religious activities. In compliance to this order, Calvary Jaya Bible Presbyterian Fellowship (CJBPF) had temporarily ceased the conduct of in-person worship on the Lord’s Day. The question in our minds were how do we continue to abide by the scriptural teaching which exhorts us not to neglect the assembly for worship, prayer and exhortation (Hebrews 10:25).
The desire to worship – the means graciously provided by God
Many expressed a desire to continue gathering for worship, like the psalmist, they cry out the deep longing to come before God in worship, “My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:2.
Thankfully, we despair not, for God has His way of meeting His people’s needs. Despite the sudden change of events, we thank God we were not entirely cut off from worshipping, for our members were able to join in worship with God’s people by virtual means. Initially, the lack of facility in CJBPF meant that our members had joined in the worship services conducted by other good, bible believing Bible Presbyterian churches in Singapore and Australia. Meanwhile, Rev Lee wrote weekly, notes of encouragement entitled “Shepherd’s Guidance”. An Elder of the church initiated the writing of articles to address FAQs from the members of GDM. Thank God for the people in Calvary Jaya who worked hard in the meantime to initiate an online worship service for the congregation. After a few days of concept testing with the help of the tech-savvy members of the CJBPF Public Address (PA) team, a recording of the worship service was premiered online on the 10th of April 2020. It was a timely provision as the service was the Good Friday Service, and the sermon was entitled “Christ’s Passion Predicted” from Matthew 20:17-19.
Praises and thanks to Almighty God! In the Resurrection Sunday that followed, and the weeks following the first online worship service on Good Friday, CJBPF was able to air its weekly morning worship services in the Chinese and the English language. Concurrently, CJBPF members stepped up to serve. In quick succession, several online services and, meetings were initiated. The first CJBPF Session meeting was held via web meeting at 3.00pm on the 19th April. Using web meeting means, the Agape Bible Study Group was able to continue its study on the Book of Joshua on the 25th March, and the next evening, on the 26th March, the Church Prayer meeting was held online at 8:15 pm. The first Grace Deaf Ministry online worship was initiated on 24th May, and the first Sunday-School class was held online on the 17th May. The voices of CJBPF choir enhanced the singing of praises from 5th of July. Praise and thank God for His grace and goodness towards Calvary Jaya! Praise God for His gifts to His people!
The Joy of going to the Lord’s House - Return to In-person Worship
Sometime in early June, the government announced the implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) which “would take effect from June 10 until Aug 31 with more lenient restrictions.” With relaxation of the restrictions, the authorities also permitted worship gatherings with the practice of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). With this in mind, a decision was taken at the Session meeting to reopen the church for in-person worship. The requirement was that the in-person worship services must be simultaneously live-streamed. We praise God, the system and procedural trial on the 2nd August went well, and we were ready for our very first in-person worship!
On the 9th of August, 45 worshippers gathered in the sanctuary, observing all the prescribed SOP practices. Two weeks later on the 23rd of August, the Grace Deaf Ministry commenced their in-person worship. We all echoed in our hearts the psalmist’s prayer, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” Psalm 122:1. The Lord’s Day message was entitled “The Spiritual Legacy” taken from 2 Timothy 1:1-5. We were all reminded of the rich spiritual legacy that God has reserved for us to cherish and pass on to our charges. We thank God that He has graciously provided for us a means to worship Him, initially by virtual means during the MCO, and presently by in-person worship. Thank God for the members of the church who co-laboured to bring this to fruition. Praise and thank God for His goodness, and may He continue to bless Calvary Jaya BPF as we seek to glorify His name.
Dn. Lim Seh Beng