8 Nov 2013 by Adeline Lum CM-
The day dimmed as the dark clouds spouted raindrops on the increasingly muddy terrain. Four 4×4 automotives rumbled slowly up the slippery slope, carefully dodging potholes, while keeping the vehicle on course. The frivolous chatter became dead silent as everyone drew a grim look. One slip of the tire, they would fall off into unknown depths.
As they went up, one of the vehicles gave way and slid, inching dangerously close to the side. Desperate to keep the vehicle on track, the driver hit the accelerator, causing the tires to dig deeper into a pothole. The monstrous tires had now sunk deeper into the ground but at least the vehicle had come into a complete halt. Some stayed behind at the vehicle to pray to the Lord, while some hiked down the hill to find for rocks to pile under the tire. Praying under their breath, the driver hit the accelerator and the vehicle immediately jotted out of the pothole. It was on track again. Hallelujah! The Lord saves!
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
And such is the adventure of 18 brothers and sisters-in-Christ of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (GSLC) who braved the weather to visit the deep village of the forest—Kampung Semul, Post Betau at Kuala Lipis. The Lord answered their prayer with a mighty wind, rolling away the clouds with a glorious burst of sunlight onto the wet road.
Moving upward, a silhouette of people waited for them in the distance. Stood in front of them was a sturdy and scruffy man called Bah Ain, who was also the elder of the Orang Asli village. Jumping off the truck, Lee Shon Ho and Douglas Weerasegaram carried and passed a bag of rice to Bahrain who quickly motioned the villagers to carry food off the truck. Studying Bah Ain’s features, Shon Ho realized how this strong-built man had relaxed and lightened up, with a tacit trust for these ‘friendly’ and ‘good-will’ neighbors. Shon Ho remembered how years ago, Bah Ain proclaimed his stand of not begging for any food but would accept anything that was given.
For many years now, the Orang Asli of Kampung Semul’s access to electricity, water, and land, have been reduced and finally eliminated. Their best chance of survival would really be in the deep of the forest where their ancestors lived, a place where they could plant, harvest, and hunt. ‘Outsiders’ were seen as threats to be feared, until the folks from GSLC came to shine their light over their bleak situation. Even the children would hide and peep suspiciously from behind the adults, not knowing if they should approach the church folks when they first visited. But over four years of visiting in March, July, and November yearly, the relationship has now matured into a genuine bond of trust and love.
Teo Ai Kiang stood by the vehicle with a bag of goodies made out of ordinary crackers and candies. A group of Orang Asli children flocked around her to bid for more candies. She was surprised with how these children could respond with such gratefulness compared to the coddled children of the cities who had the privilege of hundreds of candies and crackers to choose from. She thanked God for coming to the trip despite the unpredicted job hiccups that popped up the day before this trip. While food could bring a simple joy to these children, Shon Ho shook his head in regret for the children’s vicious cycle of poverty due to their lack of education. He believed that they should receive the same standard of education with the urban children.
Kenneth Ng, missionary trip chairman, looked around the hustle and bustle of his missionary trip members who carried the food into the village’s food pent. They had to move quickly so that they can make time to visit other Orang Asli villagers in Sagong 1 and Sagong 2. With only RM5000 per trip donated by Good Samaritans from the church and also Christians from other churches, Kenneth thanked God for leading him to buy enough food at the most economic prices. Most of the Orang Asli village folks only have one meal a day and without access to medical care, many of them looked sickly and gangling. Also, albeit the dropping off of people from the missionary trip, the Lord had added back to their number to ensure sufficient manpower to carry the food sacks.
Looking at the growth of Kampung Semul in terms of hope, Liew Yoke Kean —one of the pioneers of the missionary trip four years ago— recalled how they adopted an Orang Asli village in Cameron Highland for over ten years. A pastor came out from that village to administer to his own people, and another pastor also came out to serve other villages. Reflecting on Cameron Highland, the Lord is surely sowing his seed of Truth in the hearts of the Kampung Semul Orang Asli, thought Yoke Kean. And like a growing plant nurtured by the Great Gardener, he watched with bewilderment on the transformation of the villagers’ hearts, and mostly the transformation of people’s heart in the mission trips.
“Nobody can touch a self-centered heart except for God. Apart from God, we are only concerned with our own needs. But in the presence of God, all those things vanish.
“It is not about just helping the Orang Asli but they help us more than we manage to help them; whatever we gained stay in our hearts for three months. And over the years, without noticing it, something great has already taken place in the lives for those who continue,” said Yoke Kean. Although the food provision could only last the villagers for two weeks, the church’s presence is a tangible act of love that the church loves them because God loves them.
As written by evangelist and teacher Oswald Chambers:
“My personal life may be crowded with small petty incidents, altogether unnoticeable and mean; but if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God, and when I stand face to face with God I will discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed.”
And such is the greatness of the work done by those who are faithful in obeying God, where thousands upon thousands will be blessed! Some of us are called to journey into the deep of the jungle to carry the message of hope, while some of us are called to reach out to our neighbors- friends, families, colleagues, staffs, and bosses. Whoever we are called to reach, remember that you are meant to do great things because Jesus Christ is in you (John 14:12).
Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
References for pictures: