Beyond Writing Cheques
As the day for the High School Conference approached, anxiety began to heat up among the teachers especially in the rural areas of Sabah. A number of their students were keen to join, but the conference fees were a worrisome concern for them. "Don't worry about the fees. We'll work it out together. Just give me your names," Onnia, an intern and young teacher-to-be, encouraged her students. They tried selling snacks in the hostel to raise funds, but the profit they earned on the first day was only enough to cover the fees for one student. Some teachers voluntarily sponsored a few students. They still had a long way to go. Yet Onnia was determined to send all her 13 students to the conference.
At another school, young teacher Juliana faced the same struggle. A total of 42 students had signed up for the conference. "Are you sure you want to send all of them? They can't afford to pay the RM60 conference fees. Just tell them we won't be able to send them," another teacher responded pessimistically to Juliana. Disappointed, Juliana wanted to give up at first. "But God reminded me that if this is His will, who am I to stop Him? So I told my students, I won't give up. I will try my very best to send all of them." By faith, Juliana and her students chose to believe that God would provide.
God knows our needs
When the MCCC staff team heard this, they sent out prayer letters to share about the needs of these students. To their surprise, they received immediate responses from their supporters. Many of them offered to sponsor the students. Within a few days, they were able to raise enough funds to cover the needs of the students from both schools.
There was great excitement among the teachers-in-charge and their students when the staff team in Kota Kinabalu announced the subsidy made possible by the generous giving of the supporters. Onnia and Juliana were overjoyed that they could bring all their students to the conference. What an answer to their simple faith; they had already experienced God in such a powerful way even before setting foot at the conference to be trained as young missionaries.
Our hearts were stirred even more as we heard testimony after testimony from the participants. God was miraculously at work throughout the 5-day conference. It was truly a life-changing experience for the 327 youths who turned up as we witnessed the radical transformation in them.
Hunting for lost souls
After the evangelism training, the participants were sent out for a "Treasure Hunt" in shopping malls and housing areas. That afternoon, they all went out hunting for lost souls. Sharing the gospel with strangers was indeed a nerve-wracking experience for many of them. But when they saw their friends reaching out, they were motivated to do it by faith too.
"I met a lady and when I asked whether she had heard of the 4 Spiritual Laws, she shook her head. So I shared the booklet with her and she prayed to receive Christ! My heart was overjoyed and I felt compelled to keep sharing. Strangely, I just could not stop sharing with others," recounted Bobby, one of Onnia's student. This was his first experience sharing the gospel. That day, God used him to lead four people to the Lord.
The participants were on fire even after the conference had ended. Juliana's students stayed for another day in Kota Kinabalu. She took them out for shopping at Suria Sabah, but they ended up spending the whole afternoon witnessing at the shopping mall. "We just felt like we hadn't done enough," the students exclaimed. That evening after the conference, MCCC staff Win was having dinner with his family in Inanam. To his surprise, he saw a group of the conferees continuing their "Treasure Hunt" near the market using the 4 Spiritual Laws booklet. "I was so touched. Transformation begins when one has a desire to bring people to Christ," Win enthused.
"True Love Can Wait" was the theme of the conference this year. Through a series of motivational talks by the invited speaker, Pastor Ong, God worked miraculously in the hearts of these young lives. A group of teenage girls gathered one night and shared from their heart. They revealed the struggles they were facing in their romantic relationships. Some of them were in relationships with non-believers. The Holy Spirit convicted them through Pastor Ong's sharing.
"I began to understand what "true love can wait" means. I'm still too young and I should focus on my studies rather than such relationships. But it was hard for me to let go. So I asked God to take away my feelings for him if he is not the right person. Amazingly, the next day when I woke up, the feelings had gone," said Neva. Another girl Tracey shared with tears in her eyes, "I have a boyfriend who is a non-believer. I know this is not right but I refused to deal with it. But then God says NO. Though it hurts, I know I have to make a decision." That day, Tracey chose to end her relationship with her boyfriend and put God and her studies as her priority.
It's about touching lives
Famous talk show host, Oprah Winfrey, once said, "It's not just about being able to write a cheque. It is about being able to touch somebody's life." Have we ever wondered how significant our giving can be? Our investment in His kingdom will never be counted as "just a small thing." To many of them, we are not only the answer to prayer but our simple act of trusting God as we give can bring about transformation. "It's amazing to see how the students experienced God and were being changed through the conference. It was all worth the effort despite the challenges we faced in the beginning," said Onnia. Our giving is not just about making it possible for others to attend a conference. By joining God in this life-changing adventure, we are able to make a difference in someone's life.
by Chang Li Yin