22 April 2013 by Donna Uning CM –
As an Elder with The City SIB Kuching, Elder Lian Paran describes himself as a tent maker. Working in the bank during the week and serving the church on weekends had taken Elder Lian all over Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur and even Jakarta, Indonesia. He worked as a missionary while supporting himself. Now retired, he currently leads The City SIB, with three other pastors, including his wife, Ps Mary Lian.
Elder Lian started his ministry as a Sunday school teacher with Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) Church in Kuala Lumpur from 1980 to 1985. Teaching children as well as professional working adults required him to really study the Word, preparing him for bigger plans ahead.
In this interview with Elder Lian, he talked about his life as a ‘tent maker’ and ministry.
How did your ministry started?
Elder Lian Paran: I was with SIB Limbang in 1986 and working as a Branch Manager with Maybank. The Southwell early mission advised us to be a tent maker. I consider myself in the tent making ministry, like the Apostle Paul. It’s a tent making ministry rather than go full time. That’s what I’ve been doing all those years until I retire.
I first started as an elder in Limbang, then Bintulu, Miri, and Kuching. I was a cell leader and Sunday school teacher with Full Gospel Assembly, KL. I was 30 years old then and the Sunday school was also attended by working adults. You really have to know what you’re teaching. It helps to study the Word and do a lot of reading. Only in Limbang that I served as a leader.
When and how did The City SIB come about?
Elder Lian Paran: I was with SIB Satria Jaya (Kuching). We were in a one lot shophouse. It was very full and usually overflowed. We started to look for a bigger place and found the lots at Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg. A lot of people wanted to stay back and some of us moved. That was in 2008.
Tell us about The City SIB.
Ps Mary (his wife), Ps Rhema Sarojah and Ps Jonas Henry are pastors in The City SIB. In June is our sixth anniversary. There are about a hundred plus members. A lot of the members are students, the number fluctuates a lot. Initially, some just found their way there. There a people taking care of tertiary students in the church. We provide transport for them and from there through word of mouth.
For student ministry, you have to provide transport for them. We cater lunch for them. Initially the lunch was for the students and visitors, now it’s for the whole church on Sundays.
What is the vision you have for The City SIB?
Elder Lian Paran: A spirit filled church that fulfills the call of God in our generation by fulfilling the great commission and obedient to the great commandment.
What inspires you?
Elder Lian Paran: When you see lives change over the years. That keeps you going. My ministry is teaching. I’m basically a teacher. I love the Word and I love to teach. When you see lives changed and transformed that keeps you going. You never can know the lives you’ve touched. Even when they don’t tell you initially, when you met them later, they’ll tell you.
I was in the Sarawak Club and a woman came up to tell me how her husband’s life changed when he heard me preach. He was a drunkard and to hear this Orang Ulu really preach and strong about God; and practices what he preaches, from there he stopped drinking. Now he’s opened a church in Miri.
The Apostle Paul said only when you get to heaven then you know. People always say I give a good sermon. A good sermon doesn’t motivate me anymore; to see lives change then you have ministered to the person.
What do you like to do in you free time?
Elder Lian Paran: I do a lot of reading. I have over 1000 books and read all of them. Books are getting too expensive and since I’m no longer working, I still buy them but not as many. You can always learn the revelation of God through reading.
I also like to watch football. When I was in form 6, your dad was our football coach. Bishop Aeries (Sumping) was there with me at Tanjung Lobang Secondary School (now Tuanku Haji Bujang College, Miri). I was the captain of the Tanjung Lobang team.
What’s your favorite football team?
My favorite team is Arsenal.
It was about noon and a friend of Elder Lian came over to sit with us. The second part of the interview continues with Elder Lian Paran’s experience from teaching and how learning closely from other elders led him into building a bigger tent or ministry for God in Kuching.
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