Adventures with old and new friends
By Tek Chong
Melaka today is very different from what I remember of my childhood days, when the most attractive entertainment was the newly installed traffic light which goes blinking different colours at the junction of Bunga Raya & Newcome Rd ( now Jalan Munshi Abdullah). Traffic jams were caused by bullock carts when there was a festival. Now Melaka is so different: multinational hawkers food stalls ( crowded with Indian, Malay and Chinese food connoisseurs), cars with dodging drivers blocking every road, etc. Some road signs are familiar enough: Cheng, Bukit Burang, Ayer Keroh but these places are no longer wooden huts but high rise shopping malls and residential housing estates.
Wesley Seniors Fellowship
Some things haven’t changed. The Wesley Methodist Church which warmly embraced my newly arrived bride Goldie from Hong Kong is still our friendly loving family. We were touched by the gathering of old friends, meeting in the same Youth Centre that I had with my youths, the MYFers (Methodist Youth Fellowship). This meeting was organised by Jimmy the leader of the Seniors Fellowship. Some of the old MYFers are still there, now with white hair and wrinkles. Char kuen our gifted worship leader and evergreen Robert on the keyboard, led the group in a sing-a-long of old favourite love songs like ‘We were sailing along on moonlight bay’…‘Have I told you lately that I love you, well darling I’m telling you now’…. At the corner of my eye I saw Goldie wiping her eyes as she floated down memory lane.
Since we had just celebrated Chinese New Year, we spoke on the theme of Reviewing the past, the present and future. First is to REMEMBER & REJOICE. We asked them in reviewing the year that has past, to give thanks for all God’s blessings. Like Joshua telling the Israelites at Gilgal to take up 12 stones as a memorial of God’s help in crossing the Jordan River, they were to pass on memories of God’s goodness to future generations. In reviewing the past, we explained the need to RELEASE, REPAIR and RECONCILE. They need to release forgiveness, repair broken walls and seek reconciliation with people who have hurt them. Doing this is actually for their own health and well-being. By being set free from the past, they can REFOCUS on the future, able to go forward to enjoy the abundant life which God wants them to have. After a delicious catered lunch the old timers lingered behind, gathering round the keyboard and enthusiastically re-visiting the old familiar Methodist hymns. It was a memorable, enjoyable morning.
A good and long life
Fort Pin who was a student when we knew him and now a doctor, organized a meeting for us to speak on “A good and long life” to share about our experiences of 52 years of marriage. The venue was the new Oriental Hospital a 5 star hotel- like setup with wide corridors and well-equipped conference rooms.
Starting off with a handful of attendees, we were surprised that a young newspaper reporter turned up. Eventually more than 30 people came. We joked, “don’t grow old gracefully. Fight every step of the way”. By this we explained that we must not let nature take its course, resigning to the ravages of time, but we must do all we can to take care of our body, soul and spirit, to look good on the outside, the inside and upside. We were glad that Tek’s siblings (Tart, a doctor, Sung a nurse and Siew a lawyer, all in their 60’s) who had gathered in Melaka for our Chinese New Year reunion participated also, affirming and adding spice to what we said by sharing their own stories.
At the Oriental meeting we re-connected with Philip Sung and Sow Lan who we knew as young pastors posted to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur. They have been faithfully serving for over twenty years. They took us out for breakfast and we had a wonderful time reminiscing about the past 30+ years we haven’t seen each other. He has been a strong leader of the Melaka pastors fellowship, building up a strong network among the leaders in Melaka. We were invited to speak in two meetings in their church, enabling us to link to many old friends and new contacts.
Serving outside the church walls
We spoke twice in Gateway Bahasa Malaysia church which is pastored by a team of three lady pastors. Ps Goh Lee Neo, takes the lead in exuberant worship, ministering and praying for the people who have different needs. Being a bahasa bilingual congregation, she translated for us from English to Bahasa, enriching our content with value- added explanations and gestures. These pastors have instilled in their congregation the need to reach outside the church walls. Among their ministries is reaching out to overseas Indonesian patients and relatives who come to Melaka for medical treatment. They provide free accommodation next to the hospital, extend hospitality and kindness and show them the love of God in practical ways, praying for them and discipling them. We were touched to see that in the midst of high worship, the patients were called out to the front and individually anointed with oil and prayed for by the leaders of the church.*
Their mission field also extends to hard-to-reach villages in the interior of Sabah which they visit regularly with teams on short term mission trips. Their Sunday service is full of young people, students from East Malaysia who are studying in Melaka colleges and universities. Church members provide transportation for them, 45 minutes by car to the church, providing lunch and bible study after church before sending them back.
Food Gorgeous Food!
Melaka is well-known for food. We tasted the most delicious cuisine not in the crowded restaurants but in homes. Our good friend Rosalind treated us to her mee siam which she cooked and brought to our home. Not only was the food delicious but the fellowship with Chui Peng, Che Kim and Chai Lee was enjoyable. Another home-cooked authentic nyonya spread was at a gathering of the Melaka Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship. The ladies cooked their best family secret recipe dishes.
Many of them are third or fourth generation Malaysia born Chinese ( Nyonyas & Babas), coming from backgrounds entrenched in family traditions of ancestor, Taoist religions. Many went through severe family persecutions when as young people they embraced the Christian faith. Because of their courageous stand, a spiritual breakthrough came. Many of their parents and relatives later accepted Jesus Christ. It was a joy to hear them sharing their spiritual journey. We hope to share them in our future issues.
*see our website video “Patients get more than medical treatment”