Highlights: Renewing golden friendships, making new friends
By Tek & Goldie Chong
KUALA LUMPURAfter our Kuching camp we went to Kuala Lumpur on 16 April to attend the Asian Beacon Writers’ Moments, held in the renovated AB office *. The aim of the meeting was to gather writers, editors, journalists, designers, helpers, etc to brainstorm and share ideas for the magazine’s coming issues. The editor Goh Chee Beng thus lined up many resources which target AB’s specific readership
ASIAN BEACON’S IMPACT
We stayed with Lay Hua who we knew as a student. Her parents were Chinese temple mediums. A Christian teacher gave her a copy of Asian Beacon. Wanting to meet Dear Goldie, she hitchhiked from Telok Anson to Melaka. The last ride after hitchking in two cars was a lorry. After getting off, she asked a passer-by where was Dr Chong’s clinic – the only address she had. She happened to be dropped off just outside his clinic (even though it was called Waishin Clinic). Tek was about to finish for the day so took her home.
That’s how we met forty over years ago. Lay Hua went on to further her studies and eventually worked for Scripture Union and her translations have helped thousands. This is one of the reasons we are so committed to the ministry of Asian Beacon. We saw the tremendous impact of the magazine started by a far sighted missionary Ben Sawatsky of the Evangelical Free Church which started a remarkable chain of events: a single copy of the magazine handed to a student by a christian school teacher, impacting untold numbers till today.
An amazing experience of staying in Lay Hua’s home was delaying our trip back to Melaka one day to await her husband Yoong Hing’s return from overseas so we can share in the family’s devotion time. We gathered at 10,30 pm after his arrival. Their family devotions is a practice that was established since young. It was clear why this family is so united and loving – they enthrone God in their lives and follow His instructions on how to live together in harmony. *
We met up with Tek’s first cousin Chin Yean Leong and his wife Siow Hong in Bentong. We have not seen each other for 40+ years. There was a lot of catching up and it was great to fellowship with them. He was headmaster in Cameron Highlands and Bentong with his wife, a caring and strict teacher. Because of their reputation as educationists they are well respected in the town which has a multitude of their past students.
We were treated to a sumptuous lunch after which we visited their comfortable home for dessert of fruits. They too faced an empty nest when their children left home for responsible jobs in Kuala Lumpur. But they are still actively serving, driving up the winding road to the Cameron Gospel Chapel to preach regularly, coming home loaded with bundles of fresh vegetable, love gifts from their congregation members.
WINGS IN MELAKA
We were invited by Saw Si to share in the staff devotions in the Wings a training centre for autistic youths. The Wings is housed in the Shellabear Hall in the huge Methodist compound containing Tek’s former Anglo-Chinese School as well as the Methodist Girls School.
Shellabear Hall was formerly a girl’s boarding house. We boys in our Methodist Youth Fellowship loved to walk the girls back to the Hall at night but we were strictly not allowed to step into the building. We were aware of the stern watchful eyes of Miss Gruber, the motherly American missionary warden.
This time we were welcomed into the inner sanctuary of the Hall. Before we shared a Bible study with the staff of keen and professional young teachers we were given a conducted tour of the well- equipped facility. As we interacted with these carers we were impressed by their love and patience with their students. We encouraged them that they were there not only working as professional trainers but they are exercising the Lord Jesus’ commands to love His often marginalized sheep. From their proficient supervisor Miss Lois Fu we got some useful tips on how to help young autistic children – the key is godly patience & unconditional agape ( love).
MELAKA GATEWAY CHURCH (English)
Tek’s home town Melaka has two well- known Moses Tays. One is the former Anglican Bishop of Singapore his classmate in Anglo-Chinese school and another is Pastor Moses Tay of the Melaka Gateway Church. Moses is a well respected senior Christian elder in the town.
Our friendship goes back over twenty years and we have preached in each other’s churches in Melaka and Perth. We have many friends in his church and on the Sunday we were there we happened to meet the whole family of Boxson Low, including his son Marcus who got married recently. They have experienced God’s miracles in their lives several times. (see their story in our blog “God has His hand on Marcus” Jan 2015)
It is always a joy to worship in this very vibrant congregation; the young and old worship in spirit and truth. What impressed us was that all members of the worship team do not perform as mere musicians but participate in worship and even the instrumentalists open their mouths to sing. They are not merely musical technicians but are worshippers.
FOOD WE ENJOY
When back in Melaka we live a different lifestyle. Breakfast it is no longer the dull bread and butter but we walk to the food court a few steps from our home in Bukit Baru to eat roti canai (Indian bread) and drink teh tarik (tea). Without fail we will also order extra for our helpers at home.
On other mornings we top up our blood cholesterol with the mouth watering kueh teow (fried noodle) with extra eggs. Then there is also the toast with butter and kaya ( extra sweet egg jam). Then at noon inevitably would come our good friend Gan Chui Ping who would cart us to some unhealthy hawkers’ food stalls for pork bone soup or oily chicken rice or worse, greasy pork satay.
Ms Gan gained the reputation as a very resourceful headmistress of the Methodist Girls School. While there she did a lot to bring in Christian values to the teachers and students as well as the various government appointed members of the School Board of Governors. Now retried, she is using her skill to set up a very effective Christian social welfare organization called Agapecare to help single mothers, refugee children, old folks, etc. She works with a capable team of super women, Josephine Au, Carol Chua, etc. who lead a group of efficient staff who minister with exemplary professionalism yet tempered with love and patience. Agapecare is an effective witness in the marketplace ministry.
Another comrade in crime for raising our blood cholesterol is Rosalind Oh, a longtime family friend. She is a bona fide nonya and cooks genuine nonya dishes. When she can spare a 24-hour time slot in her busy life, she would go into her elaborate process of cooking up a true blue nonya meal for us following strictly the secret recipes that her mother passed on to her. Every ingredient must be personally bought by her and pass her scrutiny. Then the product of love is transported to our house with equal loving care and only the most worthy of friends would be invited to share.
Another lady who loves cooking, Saw Si invited us to a home cooked meal in her home with her pastors of Gateway Bahasa Church Goh Lee Neo and Yoong Pit Loon. Saw Si worked as a banker in Cambodia for many years and being an entrepreneur she drives Uber part-time and runs AirBnB besides being involved in Christian ministry in her church.
Our daughter Jasmine and her husband Andrew & daughter Kristyn happened to be in KL at the same time as us so we met up at Section 19 in Petaling Jaya to eat our favourite fruit durian.
Eating durian in Malaysia is now no longer a ‘try your luck’ kind of choosing your own durian. The new trend is you go to a shop, sit at a decent table, provided with disposable gloves and the durians are selected by the expert ‘durian consultants’ who guarantee very specific kinds of ripe durian. Of course you have to pay a premium price to get this kind of service.
Though I enjoyed the anxiety-free way of eating, in my heart I much preferred the childhood experience of squatting beside the roadside stall eating the messy durian with my bare fingers, not to mention the endless pleasure of licking those sticky fingers.
*See the daughter’s testimony “Ohana means Family” in this issue. The article was first published in Asian Beacon vol46/2 2014. Reprinted with permission.