So long, and thanks for all the encouragement

As December draws closer, it is again the time of the year weaving good-bye and singing sayonara. In a high turnover church like FOCUS, it is not uncommon to see people coming and leaving. People come to church for various reasons, and sometimes these motivations change over time. At the same time, people depart for different causes as well. It is sad to see people go, but at the same time it is a joy to know that God's kingdom grows by the migration of his people.

There were lots of people at Moore Theological College on Monday night. Quite a number of FOCUS people were there. We were there to farewell Nick/Jesse and Robin/Joy to go back to Malaysia next month, working as Anglican pastors there, and Dan/Helen to go down to Melbourne, working as overseas student worker in Monash. They have completed their theological training -- and there were commissioned to bring the gospel to wherever they are going.

It was actually my second time saying good bye to Robin, who left in '97 after finishing uni to work in Singapore. He's back to Sydney in '00, married, to start ministry training, and now heading back to MY again, with wife and daughter this time, to exercise what he has learned over the last few years. Though I am not part of the process, I felt privileged to see how God works in an overseas student church like FOCUS over time. A basketball mate of yours 10 years ago is now returning home as a fully trained minister. Wow. I wonder when will that happen in Mandarin Bible Fellowship...

And Lionel was right -- actually the passage he preached on, 1 Corinthians 1, was right -- that going back to Muslim-run Malaysia as a low-paid Christian full-time pastor has to be one of the most foolish thing in this world, and according to this world. However the challenge of "be like Christ" should certainly compel us to remove ourselves from the comfort zone and get our hands wet in doing His work.

Just that it appears that the majority of us, I myself included, think that this task should be dedicated to those super Christians. "Send someone!!" but I'll remain standing still...

Anyway. I've told Robin that I'll visit Malaysia one day, and will visit all the ex-FOCUS near KL. Otherwise, see you at the big banquet.

After MBF review on Sunday, we had a farewell to two couples who are leaving Mandarin Bible Fellowship. One (Leo/Jenny) has been MTS staff worker over the last 2 years, and another (Jack/Virginia) has been the core of MBF since it kick-started in '99.

And there are differences between departure of those who you work with, and departure of those who work with you, in a Christian fellowship context. Students -- yeah they come and go. The friendship got built up over the years, but you knew and well expected that one day it has to be teared down as they are returning home. I guess the same can be said to an MTS worker, which you sort of expecting them to leave after 2 years. But still, you work extensively with them and...

A "long-termer" leaving is always unexpected. They seem to have stuck here forever, and their absence can only be described as "weird". Especially someone who has helped to hold the whole group together.

At least they will be elsewhere serving the Lord. All the best.

A & J's departure was also unexpected -- to me at least, and I didn't even had much a chance to say good bye. Oh well. They will be missed. And may the church be blessed with their enthusiasm wherever they go.

So long, and thanks for all the encouragement.