Sunday, 23 June 2013

Worship in Klang I experienced my first Sunday worship in Malaysia.  In the morning I attending the main service at St Barnabas which is in English and starts at 8am.  The church was very well attended with all ages.  The congregation are almost all entirely of Indian descent.  

Some of aspects of the service would be described in the UK as high church, for example the robes the vicar wears, and singing many of the responses, having robed servers, etc.  I was also surprised that they use Ancient and Modern for their hymns - which I've not seen for a very long time!  The preaching however was undoubtedly evangelical, and the vicar Revd Viji gave an excellent, and very powerful and uplifting sermon on Romans 8.  The liturgy is basically identical to what we use in the UK. 

Food is very important in Malaysia (my hopes of losing weight are clearly futile!), and so after the service everyone retired to the church hall for breakfast which was rice noodles and curry - something I'd love to have every Sunday!

Then at 10.15am I attended the Tamil service which also meets in the church.  I had the privilege of being able to preach, and have someone translate for me.  One of the things I find interesting about St Barnabas is that the vicar Viji doesn't speak much Tamil, and so when he preaches at this service it needs to be translated into Tamil.  I find the concept of having a church where one of your congregations speaks an entirely different language to you fascinating.  After this service was finished I was invited back for my second breakfast, which I felt I couldn't refuse!

One of the things I have noticed about churches in Klang is that they are very much based around ethnic groups, so for example the congregation of St Barnabas is almost entirely of Indian descent.  There are three Methodist Churches next to St Barnabas, each one different.  There is a very large Chinese Methodist Church, a Wesley Methodist Church (where the congregation are mainly Indian) and a Tamil speaking Methodist Church.

In the afternoon each of these churches hosts migrant congregations, in partnership with Migrant Ministries Klang (please see this earlier blog entry).  It was fascinating to walk to the four churches and see worship taking place in four completely different languages.  The Chinese Methodist Church hosts the Vietnamese service, the Wesley Methodist Church Telegu speakers from India, the Tamil Methodist Church was hosting a Nepalese service and St Barnabas hosts a service from people from Myanmar.  Going to these four churches really gave an insight into the global nature of the church, and I felt was like a foretaste of heaven, with people from every nation in heaven worshipping God together.  What is interesting about these migrant congregations is that many of the people who attend these services are not Christians, but through the ministry and witness of these churches many people are coming to faith.  For example the pastor of the Telegu migrant congregation told me that many of his congregation are Hindu's, but he has seen many people come to faith in Jesus as a result of the witness of the church.  These migrant congregations are pastored by people who are themselves migrants from the same country.  One upshot of this is because migrants tend not to stay long in Malaysia, there is quite a rapid turn over of both the congregations and also church leaders.  

Nepalese congregation at the Tamil Methodist Church in Klang

The effect of this ministry is that although many migrants are not Christians when they arrive in Malaysia, by the time they leave (because they're only allowed to stay in Malaysia for a few years), they are returning to their home countries as Christians, often trained and equipped to help plant churches, or be linked with existing churches.  

Myanmar congregation at St Barnabas, Klang

It's very exiting to see how through MMK people, some of whom have never heard the Gospel before, are coming to faith in Jesus, and lives being transformed.  

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