And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18)
This is a story of a man who was brought by God – from glory to glory and faith to faith – in his journey with the LORD. Pastor Ezekiel Ravi was called out from his 11-year ministry in the School of Acts to return to his birthplace in Kelantan. And like Joseph, it all started with a dream.
In the dream, Ezekiel saw himself chatting with a passenger in an air flight. While he laughed at the absurdity of his plane crashing due to terrorism, he heard its engine burst. The plane took a dip. He was going to die.
Panicking in tears, he cried out to God for forgiveness of his sins. But while praying, God stopped him and said, “Why are you worrying only about yourself? This is an opportunity for you to share the gospel. Who knows who will give himself to me?”
He woke up and saw the clock needle ticking to two’o clock in the morning. “It was only a dream,” he thought. But as he lay down, he saw the plane again, already crashed on the ground. He was not the victim but the rescue warden this time. “Maybe God is telling me something,” he said, shrugging his shoulders without much consideration, before returning to his normal routine.
Seven days passed. He dreamt and saw a house on fire. An old man dashed out of the house, followed by a teenager. But a baby was crying in the house. “I got to save that baby!” he immediately thought. But another voice said to him, “It cannot be me. This is so dangerous. Why do I want to risk myself that way? Someone else can rescue the baby.”
He stood there. The flames devoured the house… and the baby. He did nothing. A friend walked to him. “You know what to. But why didn’t you do anything?” his friend said. Awakened with that statement, he woke up again. The clock needle pointed at 2 o’clock in the morning.
“But why didn’t you do anything?” The voice echoed in his head. It troubled his heart. He had to take leave and seek God. “What are You trying to tell me, Father?” he asked.
Seven days he seek the God, praying and reading the Bible. God showed him the urgency of every dream. Time was short. People were dying. There was no time to sit down and discuss. Immediate action must be taken.
His brow furrowed as he wondered to himself, “Yeah… people are dying. But what can we do?” Yet, he knew God already said preach the Bible while we are alive in this world.
He tried to shake off the vision that God showed him. “The state of Kelantan…,” he pictured in his mind, bringing back painful memories of him being bullied as a child in that place.
“But God, am I not already in full-time ministry? Is this not enough? I am not even a pastor,” he bargained with God. It made no sense why he was picked.
A soft but unmistakable voice followed. The Father spoke, “Well, I am giving you the opportunity. You can serve or I can use someone else.” Ezekiel knew his Father meant business. “God, You are the boss. I will obey.”
Another vision immediately followed. He saw the very reason why God wanted to put him there. The family of Christ was breaking there. “God, give me one more year and I will go.”
One year passed. In year 2004, he got connected to a church in Kota Bharu. He would help in their prayer meet. The vision revealed by God was already happening. But alas! He was not there yet! Driving back to the hotel, he knelt down behind doors and cried out to God.
Two years passed still. He helped another church in Kota Bharu, and enrolled in a phonic program to prepare himself. He was traveling back and forth Kuala Lumpur and Kota Bharu. “How do I get to Kota Bharu?” he asked one night, falling into a deep sleep. And God spoke again through his dream.
This time, he saw himself in a forest. Swinging his machete back and forth, he was chopping off the thick foliage to clear the road. Bullets of sweat dripped down from his forehead, as his skin glistened over the fresh red cuts across his arms. It was hard labour.
And again, a gentle and all-too-familiar voice spoke. The Father said to him, “You can choose luxury and comfort. But you will not be in My Presence, because you are not doing what I told you to do. But if you do what I say, I will be with you.”
The end of year 2006 came. That dream in the forest was tucked in his heart. As he parked his car by the mamak, he looked forward to meeting his ex-colleague since he quit his job in the School of Acts.
“You know Ezekiel… God cannot bless you,” his friend remarked after a casual exchange of life happenings. “What do you mean? I am already serving full time. I am faithful to God!” he rose to his defense. “You serve God the way you want, not the way He wants,” his friend replied.
Ezekiel gasped at the statement. Anger was restrained in its chains, as truth and all its weight sank into his heart. “He is saying the truth,” he said. “I want to serve God but who is going to support me in Kota Bharu? Who is going to provide?” he retorted. But his friend, anchoring the words even deeper, “That’s not your problem. That is God’s problem. He will take care of it. You do only what he says.” “But – ,” Ezekiel countered. “No but, just obey,” his friend said, concluding the topic.
Driving home, his friends’ words cleared the thick foliage that had wrapped around his heart. It was fear. And only faith can kill fear. “I need to decide. No matter what happens, I got to do this,” Ezekiel decided in his heart. “Whether I have money or not, I will do this.” The next day, he bought a bus ticket to Kota Bharu. Kelantan will be his home.
One week passed. The bus passed by palm oil estates, fields, and small towns, as he finally arrived at his place of childhood. “So, where do I start?” he wondered, as he walked down from the bus.
He wandered around. A sign showed a community talk will be held that day. “Interesting,” he thought. “This would help me know a little about the crime rate here.” He sat in the talk but found nothing spectacular. “Maybe I should talk to the organizer to find out more,” he speculated.
“What brought you here?” the gentleman asked. “I am here to build a church,” Ezekiel explained. “I am actually looking for a house.” The gentleman thought hard and said, “Why don’t you look for a church in Kok Nanas? Kota Bharu already has so many churches.” “What a brilliant idea!” he thought to himself, and thanked the gentleman. The search that day was futile. The houses were old and dirty.
Two weeks passed. He returned to Kok Nanas for a house-hunt. Walking down the peaceful street of Kok Nanas, a rumbling motorcycle was nearing him from behind. A shirtless old man stopped his motorcycle and asked him, “What are you looking for, walking around here?” “Well… I’m looking for a house,” he answered, amused with his friendliness.
“Why don’t you ride on my back? And I’ll bring you around,” said the old man. So, they went on a house-hunt. But again, the houses still looked old and ugly. They rounded the residential area, before moving to a new residential area.
An orange-wall house caught his attention. “Strange… I never like orange,” he thought to himself. Yet, he felt drawn. A sign ‘To Rent’ was hung out, with the words, ‘Only for Married Couple.’ He wanted to turn away when the old man stopped him and said, “Why don’t you try calling?” “Why would I want to call when the sign already says for married?” he thought, amused again with the old man’s optimism. He relented and called. But as expected, the owner rejected him because he was still single at that time.
Two weeks passed. His phone rang with an unknown number. “Hello there, did you call me two weeks ago about the house? Are you still interested?” the man asked. They met in the Gombak train station and spoke like old kins. Finally, the man said, “I know that you are a good man. You will take good care of my house.” The man shook his hand to close the deal before drawing him closer. “But… by the way, do you happened to know any black magic?” he asked. “Since I have met you, I have not slept a night.” Ezekiel assured the man, “I know no magic. But I am a Christian.” Praise God for His intervention!
The Father has provided him the house! Praise God! But another matter pressed in his heart. How was he going to get the house deposit? Since God provided him the house, He must provide the deposit. He prayed and waited in faith. Lo and behold! His phone rang. Friends and acquaintances felt led by God to give him enough money to pay for his rental deposit, transportation, and new furniture.
“Now, the only thing I need to do is to get myself there,” he said. His faith rose, seeing God providing his need, time after time. “I got everything done. Now, I only need to get myself there. So it will be you to get me there,” he said, touching his 20-year-old car that had been consistently breaking down during the opportune time of heavy traffic in Kuala Lumpur.
He drove anyway. What a brave soul! And the car continued faithfully on the road for eight hours without breaking down. “God, I know that You are the one who has been protecting me,” he said, thanking God in his heart.
Days passed. The first month in Kota Bharu is drawing to an end. For the past few days, he visited the ATM to see if there was any money deposited into his account. He already quit his job in obedience, and decided to depend on God for providence. Yet… there was nothing.
In frustration, he told the Father, “God, in the first place, I did not want to come here. When I told you about my finance, You said that You will take care of me. Now, who is this person? It’s either You back me up or I will pack my bag and leave.” And God heard his prayer.
The day after, a team came to visit him. A lady spoke, “So, you are the man we had been praying. We did a prayer drive and we saw a vision of a God’s servant – an Indian man – moving into an orange-wall house.” His heart was lifted up. He is the God’s servant she saw in her vision! And through her, God led her to directly give the money to him for his road tax, house rental, and insurance.
“Thank you God! I know now that you will take care of everything. It’s no longer in my control. But I just need to do what You ask me to do,” he said, having strengthened from faith to faith.
Another month passed. He got a call from a friend who knew about his shifting. “Why don’t you attend this course?” his friend offered. He agreed in reluctance. He had just grown accustomed to settling in Kota Bharu.
One week before the course, while sitting in his room, a gentle voice coaxed him, “Throw away all the pictures of your ex-girlfriend.” He wondered at the strange command, “How strange is this.” But he obeyed. During that course, a beautiful lady from Hong Kong caught his attention. It was there he met his wife Pastor Aurora.
“Thank you Father, You who do not bring me down, but higher and higher,” he said. “The key I know now is obedience and faithfulness.”
So, he began his work of clearing the foliage of darkness in Kok Nanas, by reaching out to a group of Polytechnic college students. Another year passed and God led him to Gua Musang, which only had one stretch of road and one grocery shop at that time. And again, he went through the same process of house-hunting and church-planting.
God sustained his road trips to and fro Gua Musang to Kok Nanas, on an empty tank for 100 kilometres. And that happened not once, but a few times before.
In building the church in Gua Musang, God sent two missionaries to pay for the premise’s rental deposit. Even the specific place to rent was directed by God. Although the owner initially rejected them, the owner called them again after they have prayed. The Holy Spirit has revealed to Pastor Ezekiel to pray because the enemy has stolen what was already given by God in the heavenly realms.
After they have rented the church premise for one week, another church in Kuala Lumpur was called to donate all their chairs, drum sets, and carpets to Pastor Ezekiel and Pastor Aurora. Had they come earlier before church rental, they would not have enough space in their home to store them.
Three years later, the LORD again prompted them to move their church to their current area in Gua Musang. The Youth With A Mission (YWAM) revealed that God will plant a church in that area. True enough, when the third year came, the owner wanted back the building. And the owner of the new building gave them a discounted rental price, having felt a certain kind of warmth engulfing her heart.
Today, Pastor Ezekiel and Pastor Aurora learned that a journey with God is not void of difficulties and challenges. But difficulties and challenges are there not to show how great we are, but who our God is. Also, without difficulties, there can be no victories.
And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” (Heb 10:38)
Pastor Aurora has also moved by faith – from Hong Kong to Gua Musang, from a mega church to a house church, from discipling leaders to shepherding members – she learned that joy comes not from the applause of a thousand men but from her one Father in Heaven.
Lastly, like all of us, Pastor Ezekiel also struggled in answering his calling by God. But when we start to obey God, He will reveal to us His glorious direction and purpose for our life.
Also, we can see how Pastor Ezekiel went through the hard knocks of discerning God’s strategy in fulfiling His Purpose. Through continual practice, he has learned to sharpen his discernment of God’s voice, what God wants him to do. Hence, for us as well, do not worry about making mistakes in discerning God’s voice. If you make a mistake, do not give up. Surely, all of us can hear and discern our Father in Heaven, in an intimate relationship with him. And an intimate relationship can only come from a daily one-to-one walk and talk with our Father in Heaven.
Jesus says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
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