Methodist Prayer Convention 2018, themed “A Church after God’s own Heart”, in Sibu, Sarawak from 31 August to 2 September 2018 was attended by 3733 delegates from all the Annual Conferences of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. Our gratitude first goes to God for His sweet, energising and healing Presence throughout the Convention at Kingswood Hotel from 31/8-1/9 and His Power and Might as Creator God, blessing 10,000 people with perfect weather - overcast skies, no rain and cool breezes as natural air conditioning, for 2/9 Holy Communion service at Sibu Town Square.
We thank the Local Organizing Committee and volunteers under the capable leadership of SCAC President Rev. Dr. Tie King Tai for their sacrificial, hard work in selfless attendance to all needs during the Convention. Truly their labour of love for God and His people was very much appreciated by West Malaysians and other foreigners in our midst. We thank the Convention speakers, Bishop Chien Chung Chen, Bishop of the Methodist Church in the Republic of China (Taiwan), Rev. Viv Thomas, Associate International Director of OM International and Ms Chrisanne Chin, Founder of 24/7 Prayer Malaysia and secretary for Prayer United, for their inspiring, challenging and soul searching messages.
Worship and Prayer Responses led by worship teams and intercessors from 6 Conferences in Chinese, English, Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia were uplifting, Spirit filled and heart-warming especially when all Methodists worshipped and prayed as one voice for the church and nation, united in hearts and minds regardless of language. There were impromptu Spirit led prayers of reconciliation and deepening unity made by Bishop Ong Hwai Teik. There were prayers for personal and national repentance by West Malaysians to seek forgiveness for hurts, injustice and exploitation inflicted upon East Malaysians. Bishop Ong also prayed for Conference Presidents and pastors to be the watchmen for the fire of prayer, and for all the Annual Conferences including the Persidangan Missi Sengoi to continue burning in their passion for Christ regardless of circumstances, encouraging them from Psalm 73:25-26, that God sustains with His Strength and He is their Portion.
Bishop Chien spoke on “Building the Church” and to be “A Church after God’s own Heart” using Nehemiah’s and Paul’s prayers from Nehemiah 1 and Ephesians 1:17-23; 3:14-21 respectively. He reminded us that we are to be a church after God’s own heart, built on prayer to know the Will of God, depending on His Power to love, support and build up one another together and ministering through prayer. It begins with holy dissatisfaction and responsible Grace to lead holy lives, recognizing our weaknesses and return to God continuously in active salvation, being renewed everyday to be filled with joy and hope to be victorious over challenges. God wants us to be His inheritance through a close relationship with Him through prayer, close fellowship within the church to build up the church and close relationship with brothers and sisters, loving one another to be a church after God’s own heart.
Rev. Dr. Viv Thomas spoke on “Intimacy with God“ from Mathew 5:13-16, 10:16. To be intimate with Jesus, we need to be in communion with God through prayer, obedience and action. We must be in community with people for we cannot grow by ourselves in isolation and we must be involved in missions to the world, to be the salt of the earth and light to the world by being as shrewd as snakes but pure as doves with gentle tenderness and mercy. He also spoke on “Prayer in Jesus’ Name” from John 16:23-33. We pray in the magnificent Name of Jesus who is the compass for the future and nourishment for the present. He is our Great Intercessor and Prayer Sustainer. The centre of prayer is Jesus, not us. He quoted St. Augustine - “True, whole prayer is nothing but love” and Richard J Foster - “Real prayer comes from not gritting our teeth but falling in love”.
Ms Chrisanne Chin updated delegates on the prayer movement thus far under the sovereign hand of God: the birth and intensification of 24-7 prayer for Malaysia since 2012, when Prayer United was birthed to shield the nation. Light Up Malaysia this year mobilizes prayer in every constituency, seeks peace for the nation before GE14 and builds a “power grid” to cover the nation from demonic attacks. Chrisanne challenged The Methodist Church in Malaysia to pray without ceasing to break strongholds of deception and oppression, (Isaiah 58:6) and put markers for the next generation, (Jeremiah 31:21). She asked every church to be a house of prayer for the nation through building a sustainable prayer movement for revival and national transformation. A prayer movement can be sustained through unceasing prayer, importunity and pursuing unity. The 10 strategic sectors in each city for prayer are business, healthcare, police/fire, arts, media, sports, family, church, education and government. Spiritual transformation begins with the individual, then the family, neighbourhood, city, state, nation and finally region. State of the nation reflects the state of the church. Prayer and holiness are no longer optional. She used Isaiah 43:19 to encourage Methodist churches to be “Gereja Baru” and to be a “Hannah church” to birth and raise up preachers and missionaries.
Bishop Ong Hwai Teik at the closing Holy Communion Service, preached on Luke 11:5-13 - “Prayer - God’s Indispensable Everyday means of Grace”, which sent us home with the understanding of the need to pray unceasingly, that prayer is God’s everyday channel of grace and the power of importunate/persistent prayer. We must pray every day – it is the means and “instrument” to know the Person, Presence, Purpose and Power of God. Bishop Ong in his concluding remarks encouraged all to live the extraordinary NT church life in the ordinary of everyday life through prayer, which is God’s means of living revival each day, not to be confined as unusual and seasonal wonder moments, but a perpetual enjoyment of our first love for God. We pray for revival but we must remember to live as revived people, who demonstrate the presence Jesus and pass on the love of Christ to others as we live out the teachings of the NT - each day. Prayer makes God’s church an indispensable means of grace to Malaysia each day, as our citizenship of Heaven is demonstrated in our citizenship in this nation.
We praise and thank God for MPC 2018, being the fourth Methodist Prayer Convention over a span of 12 years, rated by many to be the best MPC thus far. There were testimonies of spiritual breakthroughs, sweet experiences of God’s Presence as much time was spent collectively in prayer, healing of relationships and increased passion for prayer and fasting.
Collectively, the MPC 2018 achieved its goals of instilling greater awareness for the importance of importunate/persistent prayer for the church and nation, to desire revival through prayer and to be a church after God’s own heart built on prayer. Let MPC 2018 not just be a mountain top experience in Sibu but that the experience encounter with God are to be taken home where our prayer life continues to be a transforming experience at personal, local church and Conference levels. Let us keep the “fire of prayer” burning brightly and continually.
Let us look forward to the next 19-21 July 2019 Methodist family gathering at the General Conference Laity Convention, at Port Dickson Methodist Centre with a follow up theme, “Family after God’s Own Heart”.
By Datin Judy Chin
Chairperson, GC Council of Laity