Few people would give up their stable job for a thankless one of caring for the poor and needy. But when God calls, His voice is difficult to ignore. And it will just keep getting louder until we answer.
Ps. Jit Pang was living a very comfortable life in Hawaii when God called him back to Malaysia. After struggling with God for nine months, he reluctantly dragged himself back to his tiny hometown of Kluang, Johor. He thought that he could eventually settle in KL (Kuala Lumpur), but it became more and more evident that the Lord was telling him stay in Kluang.
“The ‘-UANG’ just kept getting clearer and clearer, you know?” he laughed. “I wanted it to be KL, but it was K-L-U-A-N-G!” So he dragged his perfectly successful new wife to settle in Kluang with him, became the first youth pastor in town, and started a family. Being a youth pastor was something he loved to do. He thrived at it and made a big difference in his young people’s lives.
On top of his ministry in Kluang, he began to encourage and challenge young adults in cities who had left their small towns for their studies to return home after completing their education and work there, as many of the small towns in Malaysia are rapidly aging.
Young people leave, and nobody wants to return to a place with seemingly no life and zero opportunities. But God’s work is everywhere. In every part of the world, there is always a need for God’s people to plant themselves locally so that they would be able to impact that specific community for Christ.
Ps. Jit thought that his job as a youth pastor in a small town was God’s big calling for him. Little did he know, that was only the beginning of a long, tough road ahead. What started out as casual conversations with squatter residents by the railroad while he sat at his grandfather’s coffee shop in the evenings eventually grew into a burden to help these families.
Together with his youth group, they began feeding the poor. “The whole idea was two-fold,” Ps. Jit said. “One was to connect with young people, both Christians and pre-believers, from the community to our youth group, and the second was to get young people to love where they come from by serving their local community. We called ourselves the ‘I LOVE Kluang Project.’” Many young people, especially pre-believers, came to help.
As they got more involved with helping these families, they realized there was a need to do more than just feed them. Mainly made up of single mother homes, many of the children in this community have one meal a day, struggle to stay in school, grow up without a constant father figure in their lives, and are prone to all sorts of risks. Many of them have been through all kinds of trauma. They have been molested, raped, abused, kidnapped, given away, abandoned, etc.
“They have no dreams,” Ps. Jit said. “You ask them what they want to be, and they answer, “Fruit picker,” “Truck driver,” “Kerja kilang (Factory worker).” And so, Ps. Jit started R.O.C.K (Redeeming Our Community Kids) House, a ministry that is open to children who need help with their education. At present, they care for an average of 60 children, all of whom call him “father.”
In the mornings, they run a kindergarten for the younger children so that they are not behind by the time they get to primary school, and in the afternoons, they do homework with the older children who are already in the public school system. They encourage them to stay in school, and simply love them the way they are. The ROCK House tag-line is, “Bringing love and hope, and building dreams, one child at a time.”
Their first full time worker, Wan Jun, was one of the many pre-believers who went through their door when they first started the ‘I LOVE Kluang Project.’ The seed was planted in those early days, and she came to know the Lord personally while at university. She then returned to serve the very people she once served, and is currently the principle of the ROCK House kindergarten.
Ps. Jit started ROCK House as a part-time ministry, but eventually quit his job and went into it full-time. It was not an easy decision to make. He knew that God was calling him to go full-time, but at that time, he had two young children, a baby on the way, a very sick father-in-law, a house loan, and a car loan to worry about.
Logically, he would not have quit his job. “But when God calls, we need to decide: Will I be obedient to the calling, even though it is into murky waters? Or do I stay where I’m comfortable? One thing I learned long ago is that I can stay where I’m at, be comfortable, and enjoy what I do, but that cloud by day and pillar by night won’t be there with me. I want to be in the place where God’s Spirit is with me.”
Many people were very concerned when he finally tendered his resignation, as he was giving up a stable job for one with much insecurity. But God showed up in remarkable ways that nobody could have expected. A woman had sold her house and told God she would keep some of the money and give away the rest that she didn’t need. So she prayed about whom she should give that money to.
She then called Ps. Jit and asked him if he had a house loan. When he said he did, she told him to check with the bank and give her the exact figure. He did as she asked, and two weeks later, she told him that his house loan was the exact figure God had impressed upon her to give away.
“Suddenly, we had no house loan,” Ps. Jit said. “My wife cried. Nobody gives money like that!” Their car loan was eventually paid off as well. “We had no money coming in, but we had no debt. God’s economy is very different.”
Indeed, God has never once failed to provide—for the ROCK House ministry and in their personal lives. With the exception of a once-a-year fundraising called “Uniforms for Kidz,” where they raise about RM50 000–RM70 000 to give up to 500 poor children school uniforms, they have never once asked for money.
Despite never raising funds for operations, people have always given to their ministry on their own initiative. Ps. Jit related story after story of how individuals, families, and even strangers would call him up or meet with him and see to a pressing need at ROCK House.
Through God’s faithful servants, He has supplied them with a van, enough funds to cover all their expenses until July, and rent that has been paid for until the end of the year. “We don’t know where our money comes from. People come, they see what we do, or they see something on Facebook, and they ask if they can give.”
Additionally, friends, family, and other sponsors have enabled them to support 97 families with basic food supplies in the Kluang area, all the way to Layang-Layang, which is in the plantations, some 54km away.
The work is tough. There is very little good news. Many of the children drop out of school and their program. Because of the kinds of people the children are inevitably associated with due to their parents’ bad choices, Ps. Jit and his family are also exposed to all sorts of threats. People vandalize their center, slash their car tires, cut their van’s brake lines, break their windows, try to kidnap the children for ransom, etc.
Some mothers work up to three jobs at a time and earn only about RM400-RM650. Some go to the longkang (drain/ditch), to harvest kangkung so they can feed their children. The fathers come and go as they please, usually coming back only if they need or want something. The women get pregnant, and the men leave. The challenges are endless.
“As a youth pastor, life was easy. I had a steady paycheck. The most challenging things I had to deal with were kids watching too much football or playing too much video games. I never heard, ‘Father, saya lapar (I’m hungry),’ or ‘Father, semalam ada orang sentuh saya (yesterday, someone touched me).’”
All these children have been through different experiences, but one thing remains constant: They are just children. “So we deal with the normal things and try to give them a normal childhood. Thanks to sponsors, in a couple of weeks, we’re taking them to watch Angry Birds. Every once in awhile, we’ll bring them to KFC.” Occasionally, they will throw a party at the ROCK House with plenty of food so the children can get some protein, and bring the food home for their families.
For Ps. Jit, working with these children also means dealing with their family issues, which is not an easy task, as their understanding of normal is very different. “One thing I’ve learned is not to judge. They come from very different circumstances—life and death circumstances, and they’re doing their best to survive.
“They don’t understand love. They don’t understand why I would give them a high five, or why I would reward them when they do well. So we celebrate the small victories. We celebrate when they pass their exams, or when someone gets an ‘A.’” Given the chance, these children have much potential. Many of them who have been in the program from their early years are now doing very well in school. A few of them are in the top 5%, some in the top 10%, and others still in the top 15%.
While the older children and teenagers are more difficult to reach, since it is much easier for them to drop out of school and get involved with gangs, crime, and drugs, one student has made it to the end and received his SPM certification.
“I told him, ‘Pass or fail, you’re already a champion. You didn’t quit. Everyone else dropped out.’ I told him to just take that exam and do his best. Attend. Show up. He passed a few subjects, and we celebrated.” Ps. Jit then helped him get a job in a restaurant, and, proving to be a hard worker, this young man is now on his way to supporting his own family.
“It’s a ministry where we meet the need. Saturday is the only ‘Christian’ event. These people are very wary of me.” Many of the parents are afraid that Christians will take their children away and put them in a Christian orphanage, or convert their children, leaving them with no one to pray for them after they die.
Because of that, Ps. Jit contracts out the Christian teaching to churches so that he remains neutral. They are also careful not to scare them off by being overly enthusiastic with sharing the Gospel or laying hands on the children. He would really rather retain his influence over them in the long run by having them at the ROCK House for six days in a week instead of losing their trust for the rest of their lives.
Over time, as they get older and are better able to understand, Ps. Jit will share his heart with them. Until then, he says he is in no hurry. “We operate in a place outside the church walls. It’s different. Faith is not just all about sharing the Word. It’s sharing your life. Loving people where they’re at—loving them as they are.
“They know that we are Christians, and they know that we love them. That’s it. That’s the testimony. People see us coming in and out, month in, month out, they will ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’”
That is when they take the opportunity to share the Gospel with the matriarch or patriarch of the family. So far, it has happened with two families. After sharing Jesus with one grandfather who asked about their ministry, he believed, and his entire family of 23 people all came to know the Lord.
Going on 10 years now, Ps. Jit has seen the Lord’s goodness—not just with the ROCK House, but in his own personal life. “One of the best things as a father is for your kids to know who God is,” he said. “Our mission in life is to tell our children where their true home is, and the best part of this journey is that our children get to journey with us.”
Whenever his children would ask for anything beyond their means, he would simply say to them, “Just pray la.” What started out as an effective way of ending their pestering turned out to be an incredible first-hand experience of seeing God work in their lives. His children prayed, and God promptly answered.
Ps. Jit went on to tell of numerous occasions where God provided for their family, far beyond their basic needs. People have handed them envelopes of cash to go for vacation, they have, on more than one occasion, arrived at their hotel only to find out that their rooms had been paid for, their children have been blessed with Christmas presents and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that they never imagined possible, and they have enjoyed luxuries that were simply impossible, practically speaking.
But that is how God works, and Ps. Jit and his wife have had the joy of telling that to their children. “That’s how our life has been. It’s been a roller coaster ride. There have been lots of low points, and there have been lots of high points, and the highs are always an adventure where our entire family got to see His goodness.
“As much as people say that I have done a lot for this ministry, it’s actually the other way around. This ministry has done more for me and my family than I have done for it. It has made me love more, trust more, and have more faith. As a pastor, it’s easy to have faith. But now it’s leading by a different kind of faith. It’s easy to have faith when you have a steady income. But when it’s based on ‘as and when God shows up,’ you’ll know that it is not your doing.
“I don’t have to be the sower and the reaper,” Ps. Jit said. “I can just be the sower. When they get to college and have the freedom to choose, hopefully someone will come along and be the reaper. The victory is for them to come every day. I’m here to be the salt and light to them. Not God.
“As long as my salt is salty and my light is on the table, I will draw man to God. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to bring them to Him. My job is to be a faithful servant. So week in, week out, whether I like or not, whether I’m sick, whether I’m heartbroken, or feel stabbed in the back, I need to be a faithful servant.” In short, it’s all about living from day to day with a faith deeply rooted in a reliable and dependable God!
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