We are once again entering into the season of celebrating the significant turning points of independence and formation of our beloved nation.
There was also a significant turning point for the Methodist Church in Malaysia on the 13-15 June 2016. That was when God’s people called Methodists gathered at the behest of the Lord of the Church and the nations at the 1st GC Methodist School for Intercessors in the Port Dickson Methodist Centre.
The community of faith gathered felt the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit in our time of worship and intercession. We stayed sensitive and discerning to what the Lord was saying to us throughout the time of our gathering and that included the various input received from the speakers, during worship and time of intercession at each session.
All our 6 Annual Conferences and the Persidangan Missi Sengoi Methodist were represented; the Bishop and all the Annual Conference Presidents [except one who was in Korea] were part of the 250 present in who humbly sought the face of the Lord for the nation and the Church.
There was a sense of the “aha” moment as we sought the Lord in terms of those key issues and areas that the Lord wants His Church to focus on in prayer in this season. We sought the Lord for His sovereign leading as we enter into the next intercessory phase after the completion of the 2 years of M24/7 prayer movement come 16 September 2016 Malaysia Day.
At the MSI, God’s word in 1 Chronicles 12:32 became the convicting expression for our next phase of continuing to “watch and pray” for our nation. Hence the Issachar Watchmen Movement was “birthed”. This is a call to our whole Methodist Family in Malaysia to take after the tribe of Issachar “who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, two hundred chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command” – as we proceed beyond our current M24/7 prayer initiative.
The tribe of Issachar was comparatively not big in number, but they were a significant “game changing” tribe who had God-given wisdom to assess the current times and discern the necessary actions to follow especially during tumultuous times of political turmoil and war. We read of this tribe at another earlier place in Judges 5:15 – “The princes of Issachar were with Deborah and Barak. They followed Barak, rushing into the valley. But in the tribe of Reuben there was great indecision.”
In a repeated context of political instability and war [Judges chapters 4 and 5] – they made a wise assessment followed by the right and decisive action, thereby being in step with God who intervened through a flash flood [5:21] in the Kishon Valley. This deluge adversely affected the heavy war machinery of 900 iron chariots [4:13] of the enemy army of the Canaanite King Jabin. Against the huge odds stacked against them, Deborah and Barak with the united partnership of the swift and ready responsiveness of a tribe like Issachar, routed the all-conquering enemy General Sisera who was also assassinated.
The Issachar Watchmen Movement is a prayer movement that is not meant to be an exclusive fellowship but a call to the whole Methodist Family in Malaysia to seek the God of the Church and the Nations for our land and even beyond that. We do this by humbling ourselves and being attentive to the leading of the Spirit so that we as God’s people may have understanding of the times and know what we ought to do in this very challenging spell – in our country and the world.
The 6 KEY STRATEGIC AREAS / PRAYER FOCI of the Issachar Watchmen Movement
at the personal, local church, Annual Conference and General Conference levels are:
#1. We pray for the “clearance”/ breaking down of the influence of “the cosmic powers over this present darkness”, “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” [Eph 6:12] that infect our whole nation, invisibly and visibly.
#2. We pray for the rise, growth and completion of God’s Church in Malaysia – as we prepare and look forward to receiving the unreached people groups in our land, especially the obviously big ones, so that the Church of God in Malaysia may be complete.
#3. We pray for the crucial institutions in our land at this time – viz Conference of Rulers, Parliament, Judiciary, AG’s Office, Police Force especially the IGP’s Office, MACC, the Military/ Army, Bank Negara and the Education Ministry.
#4. We pray for progressive political re-structuring and reforms - so that there is greater effective “check and balance” in the governance machinery of our country.
#5. We pray for The Methodist Church in Malaysia to be a Church after God’s Own Heart –experiencing:
* Every Methodist Personally Renewed in his/her 1st love for Jesus
* Every Methodist Congregationally Revived as in the Book of Acts
* The General Conference to be Nationally Refocused and Reframed after the Word and the Spirit.
#6. We pray that we will successfully leave a generational legacy – where a new God fearing generation is raised up in the home/ family, the church and the nation.
Let God’s people called Methodists rise up in a season such as this – to understand the times and to know what to do.
Just like in the era of Esther, this will not be easy- as she was surrounded by a threatening majority culture controlled by the powerful godless. Nonetheless she too, followed in the Issachar Footsteps in discerning and understanding her perilous times in Susa and the Persian empire of King Ahasuerus.
She chose what was right to do as she discerned God’s work in her life and in her environment, so that she could be part of God’s plan and purpose for her generation. Discerning the times called for her absolute and resolute faithfulness. She had declared “If I perish, I perish” [Esther 4:16] as she risked paying the death penalty of going to see the king uninvited in order to do what was right.
As we celebrate Merdeka and Malaysia Day - may we together in the Methodist Family resolve to be the committed Issachar Watchmen that our nation needs at this critical time as we affirm – “TO KNOW MALAYSIA IS TO BLESS MALAYSIA”.