2 Nov 2013 by Jason Law CM-
2013 and 2014 is the year that many Churches in Malaysia is and will be celebrating their year of Jubilee. It is a time of celebration, but also a time of reflection. God has blessed and brought the churches in Malaysia safely for over 50 years, but there is much to learn from those years, and much direction to seek God for in the coming years. Last Saturday, 26th of October, the Evangelical Free Church of Malaysia celebrated their 50th year Jubilee, with guests from all the Evangelical Free Church branches all over the world such as America, China, and Japan joining in. From a small denomination started in America over 60 years ago, it has spread and today there are many Free Evangelicals all over the world.
For the Jubilee Celebration, the theme of the Jubilee was ‘Let Your Light Shine’ and two pastors shared their messages. Both of the messages were not only relevant to their own church and denomination, but also to the larger body of Christ. One message looked forward to accomplishing yet unfulfilled dreams through God, the other was a message of reflection of what the Jubilee mean to us Christians as a whole.
The celebration started at 1.30pm with the welcome message by Pastor Aaron Tham and sister Lum Choy Ying, before a feast of shofars ushered in the Jubilee celebration. The Chairman of the EFCM, Pastor David Low, then prayed the opening prayer, before the praise and worship session led by Kepong EFC, and at around 2.00pm, the first speaker, Pastor Edmund Chan, shared his message.
Pastor Edmund Chan’s Message
Pastor Edmund Chan is no stranger to local Christians. He is a highly respected Christian leader, one who is renowned for his humility, and his commitment to walk the talk. He has, from the start, known intimacy with God who has led him on a life journey, from humble beginnings where God taught him about trust and patience and the right priorities in the spiritual life, until today, where he is one of the most influential disciple-makers in the region, well-known for his emphasis on the inward Christian life rather than an overemphasis on surface appearances. People from Malaysia travel all the way to Singapore just to hear him teach.
Pastor Edmund opened his simple message by humbly thanking his mentors, Rev Allen Tunberg and Rev Dr David Wong, for their guidance in his life. His message was on the topic of ‘When Your Dream Is Yet Unfulfilled’, based on the text of Zechariah 4:6.
6 So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.
Pastor Edmund shared that the text of Zechariah 4:6 was chosen because it was set in the context of an unfulfilled dream, and yet there was an encouraging message behind the verse. Many of us can identify with Zerubbabel, and like him, we may have unfulfilled dreams in our lives.
‘Many of us can identify with Zerubbabel in this particular text. We could have unfulfilled dreams in our marriage. The marriage started well but then it shattered on the rocks. There are dreams we have for our children but as they grew up, our hearts are broken when we see them become rebellious, rude, or on the path of destruction. We see our dreams for them unfulfilled.’ Pastor Edmund shared. Some may have great hopes for their businesses, or as church leaders, for their churches, but then they enter into dark and uncertain seasons, and find that their dreams are yet unfulfilled. Pastor Edmund shared 3 key biblical principles as an encouragement to help us align ourselves back with God in those situations:
1. Make sure our Dreams Come from God
2. Make sure our Confidence is in God
3. Make sure our Timing is of God.
The first principle is to make sure that our dream is from God. For the first principle, pastor Edmund took a close look at Zechariah 4:9. There is our confidence; in the Word of God. "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it.” That was the promise given by the Word of God. ‘We can either live by the World or by the Word, and for effective leading, [we have to live] rooted in promises of the unchanging Word of God. The Word of God is foundational to our dreams coming true.’ Pastor Edmund shared.
Pastor Edmund shared that there are 5 great cries coming out of the church, and the greatest of them all is the lack of discipleship. One of the things we need to pay heed to is that there is a discipling process centered on the Word of God. Today, there is a drive in the Church of God to accomplish many things, but the crucial point is not about all the programmes and achievements, but rather, whether they are rooted in the Word, Doctrine, Things, Ways, and Character of God, and when the hard times hit, we’ll have a firm confidence in our dreams because they are rooted in the things of God. Pastor Edmund shared many testimonies about his experiences in this aspect of the spiritual life.
The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.
The second principle is to make sure that our confidence is in God. Pastor Edmund shared that there may have been a misunderstanding of Zechariah 4:6. The passage may not be about human pride at all. The passage took place within the context of 3 important dates: 586BC (The Babylonian Captivity), 536BC (The Return from Exile, and the Rebuilding of the Temple), and 520BC (Half-built Temple). Zerubbabel was about to give up hope in 520BC due to the lack of energy and resources.
Zerubbabel wasn’t thinking about human pride at all. He was about to give up, when the Lord Almighty spoke to him: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ This is a call to look at God and focus on Him. The verse speaks about a very tired people who had an encounter with a very great God who had a very great encouragement: ‘You don’t have the resources, I know. But look to me. I will provide’. ‘Our God never resigns,’ Pastor Edmund encouraged. He shared about a simple formula for life and leadership: Small god, Big Problem. Big God, Small problem. ‘The question is, is our God too small?’ When our dreams are yet unfulfilled, place our confidence in our Lord. Our God will provide. ‘Not by might, not by power, but by God’s spirit’. Everything that is accomplished by us in God’s name is by the grace of God (Zechariah 4:7).
What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!'
The third principle is to make sure that our timing is of God (Zechariah 4:10). Pastor Edmund shared about his early years as a pastor. God’s direction for him in those early years was to stay in obscurity for 20 years. It was a time of spiritual catharsis. It took out whatever carnal ambition that was in him. It changed Pastor Edmund’s worldview from ‘I want to change my world!’ to ‘I want to be faithful. If I could pastor a small church, I would be happy.’ God called him to pastor the slowest growing church in Singapore, and through this, God taught him humility, patience, and not to despise the day of small things. Through experience, God also taught Pastor Edmund about His timing and its importance: ‘There’s a time to be small. There’s a time to extend your wings.’ From leading a half-day 300+ attendees conference, this grew to a 2-day, 3500 attendees, booked in advance conference.
10 “Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?”
God has taken Pastor Edmund far in his spiritual journey, and today, much of Pastor Edmund's sharing comes from his own personal experiences in life.