17 March 2014 by Donna Uning CM –
Since moving in November last year, Bethany Ministries has had their share of drama. “We prayed for months to find a new place,” said Ps Fong Che Chung, pastor of Bethany Ministries here in Kuching. First, the required move and then the break-in. Ps Fong walked us through the new space on the first floor of the shoplot at Tabuan Desa.
“The place is bigger and when we moved in, there were students staying upstairs,” he said of the new place. Bethany Ministries runs the Homework Centre community project where students can find homework, academic and online/IT assistance at their Bethany Home from 2 – 5 pm daily.
Previously called Bethany Youth Christian Centre, “but young people don’t like to be called youths,” said Ps Fong. With the new name, it is easier to partner with others because the ministry works by reaching out to the young people.
“There are a lot of young people here; they are hyper-active and Bethany started for students,” said Ps Fong. “It is a training ground for the young people before they start working, that is to love God first,” he added. “We teach them that they need to learn to give their resources, wisdom, and energy as well as to receive from other churches and their events.”
Ps Fong have been with the ministry for 10 years. “I never wanted to be a pastor but somehow, God led me to this path,” he shared.
“I joined Bethany because some of my classmates from another church brought me to a Bethany camp. I became a Christian through that camp,” he said. From that point onwards, he was invited to Bethany Home, studied with the other students there and “it really changed my point of view and life.”
“I learned a lot from our (then) senior pastor and teacher Ps Cheli Tamilsevan. I always serve beside him and learned a lot from him,” he recalled. Today, Ps Fong has been pastoring Bethany Ministries for three years.
Bethany Ministries is focused on “SMS; to Save the young people by reaching out to them, Mentoring them or to empower the young people to read and know God; and Send them out after they finish studying, go home and serve,” he said. “Then the process starts again.”
Some of the programs this year at Bethany Ministries include the Kairos course at the centre and also Bible Camp with students from Taylor’s College. Over the weekend, the young people planned a trip to Serikin and Fairy Cave, inviting non-Christian friends as part of their outreach program.
Ps Fong, who is 29 this year, is married to Liew Pei Sing and they have a 20-month old little girl. How does he keep up with the young people? “With the young people, I have to learn their language, learn from them and share their interests,” he said. “Sometimes I have to re-learn their language and ask them,” he continued. “That’s how you make yourself young; it’s not easy.”
Most of the young people call him ‘uncle’ or by name. “I tell the young people that they don’t need to be a pastor, but be a disciple,” he said, telling they do not imposed on their titles although some may insist.
At the homework centre, most of the students who come in after school include the non-Christians. Ps Fong tells about a sign they placed which says, “Is God getting the glory?” “I would explain to the students only when they asked; that’s when we start sharing the gospel,” he said. Some of the parents in their church became Christians because of their children. “Other than that, we teach them well and show them how we live.”
Apart from the homework centre, the ministry also runs the Reading Bus and the Devotional Tool programs. The Reading Bus is a mobile library program where a rural village is adopted for three months and a team from the ministry is sent out to the village fortnightly on weekends to set up a library in the village. The team runs several delayed education, reading intervention and motivational programs; and they run the Alpha Course during the nights.
The “God …SPEAK to me” journal is part of the Devotional Tool designed to help young people dig deep into God’s Word and enable them to hear God SPEAK to them each day. SPEAK stands for sin, promise, error, action, and knowledge – it is designed to help young people develop a systematic way of reading and journaling God’s Word. More information can be found on www.bethany-ministries.net.
Bethany’s mission is to be a youth disciple-making ministry, making available avenues for evangelism through youth related community and social services; and by consciously living a life of testimony for Jesus Christ our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word. Bethany Ministries new church is located at 1st Floor, 695 Lot 13941 Block 11 MTLD, Off Lorong Keranji 4F, Tabuan Desa Utara Kuching. They currently have about 40 youths and some ten adults at the church.
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