2013 Malaysia – Emily Suen

Choose to be Relational

God does not rely on methods, he is relational. Whatever we do we are called to love him and love our neighbors as it says in Mt 22:36-40. No matter how unorganized, how much time it takes, how frustrating, we are to love. I’ve heard these two commandments many times before but I always associated it with rules to follow in order to live in brotherly harmony. But on this trip to Borneo Island, Malaysia, I witnessed the power of always choosing to be relational for the sole purpose of imitating Christ. In Malaysia, every day was a day packed full of surprises and unplanned events. The very phlegmatic, relational nature of the ministries themselves gave God a platform to do all he desired to do. God is relational, especially in Malaysia and as we stepped out of the busy mode of Korea and learned to imitate what he was doing in Malaysia, that was when we were able to see the fullness of his glory.

One of the strongest ways God taught me to be relational was when he called me to preach. Before the service we asked who the translator was but as was our answer for most our questions, they did not know. This gave God full authority to do or change whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted on the trip. Literally, minutes before I was introduced, I met my translator. Excited to meet her, my excitement quickly turned to concern when I realized I could barely carry a normal conversation with her. I told our team leader Eunice who went to sort things out. She was assured by our NPWM Pastor, Pastor John that everything should be fine. Long story short, not too long into my message I found myself panicked as to what to do since it was obvious that translation was not going to be smooth sailing. At one point, Pastor John even came up to the pulpit to take over for the translator but as we made eye contact I could see the fatherly concern he had for her. I could tell he wanted to build her up and give her a chance to finish what she started. I had to make a choice. Be relational and allow the translator to continue or get my message across by replacing her with Pastor John.

Although it felt like I was committing preaching suicide, in that split moment I signaled for Pastor John to take his seat and continued to feed the sermon word by word to the translator. I wish I could say that the translation got better but it only got worse. At times I even had to remind her not to just repeat what I said in English but to translate. By this point I abandoned all sermon notes and tried to just relationally carry a conversation with the congregation. After, I opened up the altar and had the team pray for those who came to the front. This gave me an escape to retreat momentarily to the back of the sanctuary to compose myself from discouragement. I returned to the front after praying for a few people and declared that “God did what he wanted to do”, even if I had trouble believing it.

After debriefing, thank God that I was the only one who was short-sighted. Where I lacked my team made up for it. Everyone on my team, although frustrated, had a clear vision of what God was doing that night. First, P. Myunghwa said I was the only one who could have patiently endured that service the way I did. Also without the poor translation we would not have contended for the amazing translator we had for the rest of the trip. Second, Ted noticed that the whole congregation was translating for the translator by the second half of the sermon showing hunger for the word. This was my main prayer request. Third, Jae Ah told me even as an English speaker she was not listening to the message because she was more touched by how I was handling the situation relationally. Finally, I cannot ignore the fact that every single person, all 46 in the entire room came to the altar. Not one person, child or adult was left behind. That was my first time seeing an altar call where the entire back room was empty. Being relational convicts hearts.

The testimony did not end there. The next day we visited every single family that was at the service that night and perhaps it was one of our most glorious days of our trip. Our team split into two groups as we went from house to house, healing the sick. The first house my group entered, we prayed for a grandma who suffered from a stroke three years ago. We prayed hard for her paralyzed left body as her family idly waited with doubtful expressions on their faces. Pastor Myunghwa attempted to lead the grandmother in a prayer but the translation once again became a hindrance. Discouragement crept in as I wondered if our outreach would be a repeat of last night. A bit discouraged, we were about to accept the lack of healing and move onto the next house. However, once again we were faced with a challenge to be relational. Before leaving they brought out Milo, tea and cookies. We had a choice to make; Leave or stay. We stayed.

Our intention of being relational for a few more minutes turned into a few hours of family time. As I played with a 4 year old boy, Pastor Myunghwa and a few other stayed with the grandmother, and our brother Ted engaged a man in conversation and began praying for healing over his back. Almost instantaneously he was healed as he jumped up and down doing jumping jacks. After he got healed the guy next to him believed he could get healed too and said his back was also hurting. He got healed. Then a third man said he had some type of pain in his shoulder and back. This time we empowered the two who received healing to pray for the third man and he also got healed. Finally the fourth man also had pain in his back having done similar field work as the others but this time all three men laid hands on him including the child I was with who decided to reach out his hand as we prayed. After all four men were healed, a woman sitting by idly asked for healing for diabetes and some other type of pain. All four men including the child prayed for her healing and her physical pain left her. Later on we found out that all four men were the elders of the church we ministered to the night before with the poor translation.

All were so hungry to heal the sick that they asked to accompany us to our next house visits. But before we left, we went back to the grandma but this time the entire family laid hands on her contending for her healing as our team stepped back. Although we did not see any noticeable healing, when she stood up to test her body she stood up with joy as the whole family cheered her on saying “Alla ee tu baik” (God is so Good) in Iban. The little boy named Strong continued to repeat this phrase after we were done. His quiet murmur brought so much joy into the room that Ted led us in a spontaneous worship of hallelujah where young and old we all sang with joy over the grandmother.

Every house we went to after that, the four men and child followed us and testified, multiplying disciples from house to house. We were accompanied by more and more people with their own testimonies every house we went to. By the last house it felt like we were having a block party. God is moving in a way in Malaysia that requires relationship, patience, and sacrifice of methods. He is empowering his people through relationship and gaining the trust of his people in Malaysia building their salvation through relationship not crusades. Partnering with this movement from the busyness of Seoul, our whole team was forced to become relational and phlegmatic (ready to roll with the punches). After seeing the fruit from it, I’d like to think that maybe being phlegmatic isn’t impossible for me after all.

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