I must admit that it has been a long time since I was involved in any mission trip, the last one being to an Orang Asli (OA) community. So, the opportunity for another mission trip was certainly a welcome soul nourisher. I just never imagined that it would be a really inspiring, humbling and a great nourisher-of-the-soul experience. I am thankful for the opportunity to be of service once again and meeting up with so many wonderful people in the OA community and also the people in the mission team.
I must admit that when I first heard the announcement that City Community Church (CCC) Melaka would be working hand-in-hand with Capt Edwin Sim and his wife Sis. Lorna to support the OA community for the CCC Food Drive program, I was still contemplating whether to make the trip. Like I said, I ain’t no spring chicken, and creaks in the bones do sound louder and crispier each time. I know, I know, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” quips do get to you from time to time, right? Somehow, I felt a different stirring inside and when that happens, it is usually for a good cause and I finally joined in. I was also aware of my own shortcomings but somehow, I do love the Lord, I do love the outdoors, I love going back to nature and I love the OA community in my own special way. That swayed my decision.
So, as days went by and with loads of work to finish at the office, I was really contemplating whether I was ready to shoulder the responsibility. Yes, I did question myself if I could help the team in any way. Finally two weeks before the trip, I signed up and I met up with Capt.Edwin Sim & Sis.Lorna, the dynamic & wonderful duo, who regularly help out the OA community. I must say, it has been a tremendous honour and privilege to be able to speak with them, share their passion and ideas, including their friendship and easy going ways. I am really amazed by such deep passion and commitment on their part which included their entire family in such a cause. I am truly and deeply humbled by what they have done, the passion to reach out and all they had gone through over the years helping the OA community; moving on during tough times and pressing on despite difficulties and being all alone in their quest at times. Such dedication, commitment and passion are indeed rare these days and I have nothing but pure awe and respect for this wonderful couple.
We started out as early at 7.30am on Saturday (23rd January 2016) and after a quick headcount and prayers, we were off to our destination in Pahang. It was a tremendous feeling of satisfaction as I saw basic daily provisions and love from the people who had contributed to this cause in the 6 motorcars and a lorry. My heart cried out for joy as I knew these provisions would go to the needy and in the hands of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
As I drove, my team namely Joel, Shirley, Alex and J-Cyn (there were 7 cars in a convoy and I was in the middle – the cars where laden with essential foodstuff) through the trunk roads leading to the intended OA community, my heart was filled with gladness and thankfulness for the pioneering spirit of Capt. Edwin Sim & his family. They have done these acts of selflessness, good deeds and providing essential daily foodstuff for the OA community for the past 11 years! Such was the love of this couple for the people. What a spirit, really! People like Panatua A (name withheld for safety reasons), Pak A (name withheld for safety reasons) and the other people I met at the OA settlement gave glowing tribute to this wonderful couple. I was glad just to be on this journey with them and with the CCC mission team led by Bro. Fook Meng. The CCC team comprised of a mixture of young and old who efficiently and effectively carried out our duties.
The team comprised the building team, the medical team, the children’s Sunday school team, food distribution team, music team, message team and drivers’ pool. It was good to see everyone working together for a good cause.
I must add that in my 19 years of work travelling through the highways, byways, trunk roads, plantation roads, red earth road and sometimes difficult terrains, the journey to these places were truly challenging but made easier and accessible through the haphazardly built asphalt roads. I really could imagine roads those days when Capt Edwin Sim and his family first started out.
Anyway, I was assigned to the building team a.k.a the jamban team. We had a good laugh about it but the job needed to be done and it was done. Johnson, Dau Lim, Zachary, Uncle Thomas and I made up the jamban team. What a riot we caused! We were focused on our task to provide the very best we could though we weren’t engineers nor specialists but we each had the heart to serve our Father above the best we could. I must admit that I was really encouraged by my jamban team members who were fun-filled people and the best part was, we got the job done well. Though the physical body was painful, tired and exhausted by the back breaking work, it was worth every sweat broken and energy spent in that pit.
Stopping for a breather once in a while, it was heart-warming to see the essential food stuff being given out to help the families who were in dire need of them. I do know a thing or two of how it feels to go to bed on an empty stomach when times were difficult in the past. So, I was so glad that we could be a part of the team to help out in any way we could by giving out the essential provisions, and experiencing spiritual togetherness in the love for Jesus and caring for one another despite our geographical differences. No families were missed out and all those who required assistance received it.
The Praise & Worship session, testimonies, youth service, children’s church service and finally, the sermon preached were beautiful, apt and tender. To stand up there and to speak a message or to give a testimony can be quite daunting at times but to speak in BM doubled up the daunting task but Hephzibah Ho, Gilbert, Shirley Kwon, Loreen, Capt Edwin, Aaron Liu and Bro.Wong Fook Meng made it all good. All the while, Daniel Teo and Robin together with the young people were out on their rounds handing out the goodies of provisions with the local leaders. It was a real joy seeing the younger people passionately moving about and doing their best for the Lord!
I also managed to meet up with Pst. B (not his real name for safety reasons too) and his wife, Sis.B, who have diligently and passionately served amongst the OA community for the past 11 years. In fact, both Pst. B and Capt Edwin had helped the OA community all these years together. The ever smiling, Sis. B helped prepare the fishes (baung, sebarau and lampan Jawa) I caught and they tasted so much better with her culinary skills. She told me that I had to be an outdoor person and I was one indeed. I felt so at home with the open fire pit to the shelter of the night right through the river ways. What a blessing indeed! I felt right at home… actually…
Another blessing which I felt worth mentioning was spending time at the river. Against the backdrop of a beautiful secondary jungle setting and mountainous view, slight breeze and rustling cooling waters, it was a welcome sight and sound when the jamban team arrived later at our intended shelter for the night.
With one of the Panatua (Elders) in our car, Johnson, Uncle Thomas and I had a riot of a time with him. We laughed and my heart bled that day as we heard of the persecution, cruelty and of the atrocities carried out on the OA Christian community. However I marvelled at their tenacity, patience and endurance to put firmly their faith in the Christ Jesus. I was really humbled by the experience and I know, God is a miracle working God and all Glory to Him!
Upon arrival at our intended place for the night, the sound of the river awakened my soul immediately. I immediately went for a dip as that was the most logical thing to do after sweating it out at the pit and you wouldn’t want anyone to smell your “aroma” at that time!! The water massage through the fast flowing water was a simple luxury. What a great rest indeed! I felt at home and I shouted out loud in my heart,”I am at home, Lord!” Young and old alike enjoyed the time out there in the river. Dark clouds started to gather successfully signalling the imminent heavy downpour and we had to get ourselves out of the waters. I wished I could spend more hours there and I eventually did something which was unthinkable for a 51 year old bloke!
At about 12.00 midnight, I was still very much awake. So, I laid out the fishing net I brought for night fishing together with Johnson & Dau Lim hoping that we would catch some tasty fish for breakfast the next morning. I tell you, some of the team members were pleasantly horrified and they were genuinely concerned about doing such a thing in the middle of the night. With a mischievous tint in my eyes, I told myself that I was there on God’s mission and to enjoy myself. The net was laid and the result was a baung, three sebarau, two roach and one lampan jawa!!
Anyway, I must be honest to admit that I was praying very hard to the Lord for the baung fish and when I saw a baung in the net, I was ecstatic indeed. Then when a sebarau fish appeared together with a terbul and a lampan Jawa, I was more than happy. I am thankful to the Lord for providing me my wishes. What a great feeling inside! Now, everyone could have a small sample of what nature could provide if we truly maintain the beauty and eco-balance of Mother Nature. My heartfelt thanks goes to Johnson and Dau Lim for being crazy enough to join me for the midnight, early morning and mid-day fish netting activities. Truly I am an outdoor person and it was good to ignite those feelings again as it had been ages since I have been with Nature. Love that feeling a lot…..miss it too…perhaps missed it too much.
I guess, personally, my greatest satisfaction was getting everyone around to taste the fishes. To see the smiling, amazed and lighted up faces made it all worthwhile. I am thankful to the Lord for providing the fishes that morning and Sis.B’s wonderful fish steaming skills. By the way, the wild boar cooked in kicap sauce made by Sis. B’s daughters and other womenfolk, was the BEST IN THE WORLD!!! Double thumbs up!
I woke up early that morning and enjoyed the morning breeze as Capt Edwin told me that the mornings are marvellous times. The crisp, dew filled and clean fresh air filled my lungs. It was such a change and such a clean feeling. The lovely environment together with the great morning breeze helped in many ways to beautify the surrounding landscape and perk up that early morning. The thought came to my mind, “Why would anyone in their sane mind want to deprive/take over/rob or even drive the OA community off their land and space? “ The answer is a simple one – PURE GREED, WICKED & CORRUPTED HEARTS!
I was truly blessed being a part of this team. The congregation at both the kampongs were not only courteous, respectful and warm, but happy as well. The medical team was there to administer whatever they could for the good of the people and it was their first experience serving the OA community. I could see that the young people were truly inspired and full of zeal serving the cause. I guess, simplicity is the OA way of life and a great reminder to urbanites like us to continuously be thankful for our blessings, to be grateful and help out in whatever way we can.
Thank God for Capt Sim and his family who believed firmly in what they were doing and working alongside our Father in Heaven to fulfil the Word of the Lord , “If you love me, feed my lambs.”. They did not literally just feed the people – their hearts, their zeal, their countenance of love, compassion, mercy and grace lighted up the entire community bridging man to God and changing the spiritual landscape of the indigenous people of our nation; one family at a time, one village at a time and one tribe at a time. No trickery, no promises of lucrative deals, no arm twisting with rough house tactics, no intimidation with use of violence, no robbing of lands and what not. Just the bearing of a simple heart of God, and trusting God for the right thing to do.
We can all do something for the OA community – you and me. We need to stand up and offer any help we can to ensure that they do not get oppressed, suppressed and neglected just because they are different from us. In fact, they are not different. They are our brothers, our sisters and our friends living in this land just like you and me. They are trying to eke out a living and trying to bring up their families in their own special ways. They too deserve to have a life of their own, see their children grow up, be successful and enjoy freedom of worship.
I pray that justice will prevail for the OA community and God’s restoration & favour be upon their lives. Let us not just throw a fistful of ringgit and allow others to do our work. We all can contribute more than that a fistful of ringgit because God has enabled each and every one of us. The talents granted to us collectively are enormous. It is not about money or an excuse to give when you have a surplus in your church or community. It is about reaching out to lives, giving from the heart and caring like Jesus did and does.
I constantly am reminded of this quotation and I leave you with this quote:
“When you have no helpers, see your helpers in God. When you have many helpers, see God in all your helpers. When you have nothing but God, see all in God. When you have everything, see God in everything. Under all conditions, stay thy heart only to the Lord.” – Charles Spurgeon
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