24 Nov 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
New Life Restoration Centre (NLRC) was started by a group of university students in Australia, who despite their plans of staying and building a life in Australia, accepted the challenge of evangelist Graham Fawcett to return and bless their own country.
University students on fire for God
Reading one Christian book, memorizing twenty one scriptures and meeting faithfully every week, the first group of six returned students started NLRC out of a humble house in SS2 strewn with plastic chairs and a handy twelve-string guitar. After four months, they moved to a shop lot in Section 17 facing the squatter areas, before moving to Damansara Utama, and finally, to NLRC PJ in 1994.
Although they were very busy as university students in Australia, they were very involved in the students' cell group there under a robust leader who was visited by God, and was drastically transformed.
For the whole year, Ron Hee recalled, the whole group of students went knocking on the doors of the church neighborhood to share the gospel. After the regular MacD hamburger or fillet o' fish, they visited homes. Some met with warm-hearted residents, while at other times some people eagerly shut the door. Nevertheless, Jeremiah Yap recalled that their quest for the lost was, and still is a worthy one as they led many to accept Christ.
Returning to Malaysia to start a legacy
The group of six people returned to Malaysia out of their love for the country. Jeremiah became the leader of the group, touching down in Malaysia first to build what have now become 22 churches with ministries in English, Chinese, among our natives and among Myanmar migrant workers.
Recalling their inexperience of planting a church, they laughed recalling how they learned to conduct weddings. Lawrence Chen was the first that got married with his wife, Lip Yee, in the church. Located on the second floor of a small shop lot, he was bemused at how his wife would need to trudge up a staircase with her wedding gown amidst the rattling air conditioners. They also learned deliverance, seeing many healing miracles despite their initial fumbling. For example, Jeremiah recalled how a woman with prolapse, upon being prayed for, miraculously felt a pair of hands went into her body and knitted her muscles. She was totally healed!
Coming together to recount the good old days, the three musketeers (Jeremiah, Lawrence and Ron) laughed with joy recalling how Pr Joshua Lee of NLRC Shah Alam wrote a song to bid farewell to graduating students who were returning to Malaysia, and also to remind them lovingly of their future unity. Seven months after Jeremiah returned to Malaysia, Lawrence and Ron came to join him, his wife Susan and Joshua Lee.
Standing together against darkness
Unperturbed by challenges and the seemingly uncertain future of starting a church, Ron shared that they were too passionate to know the danger that lie ahead; one that involved the spiritual realm.
Jeremiah was the first to experience a spiritual challenge. Returning to enthusiastically serve the Lord, they did not foresee the spiritual battle and emotional turmoil involved. Under stressful conditions, his wife conceived their first child who had disability. And having a child with special needs demanded much time, effort, and adjustments. The journey Jeremiah recalled was not easy but they still carried on. The Lord has restored his son progressively.
And in the midst of his crisis, Ron and Lawrence stood by Jeremiah to allow him to take care of his son. Owing to the wonderful and deep brotherhood they had with each other, the church stood strong against the winds and storms, built through transparency and dependency on each other. Ron hilariously quipped how the three of them were so different. Yet like iron sharpens iron, they were always there for each other. Now, Jeremiah's face beamed with gratefulness and joy for being able to still work for the Kingdom of God, which he counted as a miracle.
Ron also had his challenges in terms of health. He recalled how his wife had incurable rheumatoid arthritis. A brilliant engineer who believed that a formula exists for every problem, her intellect could not help her solve this problem. Finally, in one prayer meeting, she finally decided to give up her quest; if the Lord wants to give her this disease for the rest of her life, then she will surrender her whole body to Christ. His wife was healed after that! Ron was also not exempted from sufferings as he battled thyroid cancer. At the present, his cancer is at bay and he continued to serve God undeterred. Everyday, Ron would pray to God and also depend on God for sustenance and healing.
Lawrence is the most blessed in terms of health. As the most adventurous one, his strong pioneering spirit led him to manage the missionary works of NLRC all over the world. He was amazed at how people would join their missionary work. Hence, this is not a one-man ministry but the Lord's ministry, whereby Pastors, leaders and members would travel as missionaries. Many are mobilized.
Meeting every Monday night
For many years, the Pastors (Jeremiah, Lawrence and Ron) and other brothers and sisters-in-Christ would meet up every Monday night in Jeremiah's house for years to build a team. The three, in particular, gathered frequently, sharing life and recreational activities together over houses, meeting rooms, and swimming pools. Their children knew each other very well.
Being transparent was the key ingredient of their friendship, whereby struggles and problems are brought out so that they can pray for one another. A problem for one is a problem for all. The perseverance of their friendship is evidence that differences did not matter, untouched by the crafty hands of the divisive spirit.
All of them went to Malaysia Bible Seminary; gave each other time off to study; and studied and served at the same time. Because of their bond, a level of trust has been built whereby anyone's judgment on an issue will be agreed and supported. Respect is also given, whereby one is entrusted with trust to direct the way in extending the Kingdom of God, in the DNA of NLRC churches. People seem to catch the vision of NLRC well.
Firing the vision of the Great Commission
A lady in NLRC started the China student ministry due to her burden for students from China. In a short time, 260 out of 600 people were saved for the Lord. Amongst them, a lady named Lucy could not stop crying for the whole week from the time of her salvation, until she surrendered to God and returned to China. She returned with zeal in the Gospel. Many turned to the Lord. Her husband had brain tumor. Upon prayer by her and the church in Malaysia, her husband was healed. She started a church in China with over 100 people now.
Currently, Ron is heading the main church NLRC in Petaling Jaya, while Jeremiah and Lawrence are overseeing the whole group of NLRC churches in the whole of Malaysia and in 12 nations around the world. Lawrence traveled the most, as it was his passion; to India, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Russia, and churches in East Malaysia. NLRC assists in planting churches in partnership with the locals. One of the most memorable was the planting effort in 1994, when the iron curtain fell in Cambodia. Four hundred churches have since been planted. Lawrence did not expect that his sowing into the Cambodians the seed of church planting could produce such fruit. It is a wonderful grace of God. The furthest nation in church planting is Russia where Jeremiah planted two churches there in 1997.
Expanding overseas, Lawrence saw not only financial but spiritual poverty. The natural outcome of having people saved is to start a church for spiritual growth. Indeed, the Great Commission asked us to go and make disciples. With God's divine connection, they would meet people who are church planters. For example, Ron recalled meeting one Punjabi and Sri Lankan, who are both church-planters in a prayer conference in Africa. These have planted many churches in their parts of the world. NLRC work with them in encouraging the vision.
Stand and fight the spiritual warfare!
Spiritual warfare, especially when you're called into the ministry, is real. How do you fight? Firstly, surround yourself and keep yourself connected with people who would fight this spiritual warfare with you. Secondly, remove all your pride and ego and be ready to apologize if a mistake is committed. Thirdly, keep yourself humble to receive the grace of God. If you don't want to be humble, then the Lord will humble you. When we are broken and weak, we depend on the Lord and develop the attitude of prayer. Ron is actively leading the dawn prayer in his church. And to keep one's heart soft and humble, Ron would get Jeremiah to lay hands on him and pray for him.
In 1988 they started their first Chinese service after the fathers and mothers of the church attendees started coming to Christ. Twenty people accepted Christ in the evangelistic meeting, launching the first Chinese ministry after that. Another example was a group of MARA students in Shah Alam that accepted Christ in a church camp. With that, the leader Pr David Tham decided to start a church there. He moved to Shah Alam to pioneer that church.
Message for the young leaders
Getting a vision from God from a young age gives deep meaning in life. 1Cor 2:9 said there are things we do not see in the immediate. If young people could catch a vision of the Lord, they would do things far beyond what they ever dream of. Being involved in God's works carries such rich meaning that the young should not miss out in allowing God to influence their lives; more than their friends, careers, and workplace. God's Will is the best, they dare suggest. Although the young are chasing frantically after their career, their first million dollars, a dream home; seeking the gospel and God's kingdom would bring a person to a much higher spiritual plane with more of God's provision and a fulfilling destiny.
Lastly, instead of emphasizing on being a pastor full-time or part-time, in the ministry or not in the ministry; the most important thing is to be raised in their capacity to influence the world. NLRC allowed bi-vocational pastors, who pastor the church while still in the workforce. Currently, Pr Joshua Lee and Pr David Tham of NLRC Shah Alam and Pr Kenneth Toon of NLRC Puchong are still working and are very successful in their churches. For others, they found great effectiveness in proceeding towards a full-time ministry. So the Lord uses all that avail themselves to serve Him in church planting and in shepherding the flock. To help people serve the Lord, NLRC has an emphasis on training. So in some of our churches, we have extension campuses of Bible Colleges. In this way we have on-going Bible and ministry training for Pastors, leaders and members. For some the aim is a Masters degree while for others it is up to their capacity and the field in which they work.