Changsha 长沙 2013 – Part 1/2

Three of us, Nic, Manson & Pauline, set off the Changsha on 31 August 2013 to conduct a summer worship camp for the students of Hunan Bible Institute (HBI). It was such a blessed time to see how the students have grown over the last 3 years. I didn’t plan to do any videos but thank God for the few who diligently videoed and passed us the videos. Such fond memories. Praise the Lord!

Proskuneo – School of Prayer and Worship

On 3-6 Jun 2013, about ten of us from my church, Bethel Fellowship, went to Proskuneo School of Prayer and Worship in Bandung, Indonesia. We are honored and priviledged that the school especially arranged for a special 2 days intensive sessions for us.

Proskuneo School of Prayer and Worship is started by Dr Niko, the senior pastor of GBI. Their vision is to raise up worship ministers who carry the presence of God and are also skilled musicially for the ministry to God as part of the vision to rebuild the Tabernacle of David. They have professional musicians who come to their school after their conversion to learn how to worship God through the gift of music. There are also those who do not have any musical background but desire to serve God through music. Their usual curriculum for local Indonesians is 2 months stay-in. For overseas students, their curriculum is one month.

The car ride from Bandung airport to Proskuneo was about 30min. Upon passing through the gate and into the compound, there is a sense of stillness – the quiet presence of God. Everything is neat and clean, well-organized. It is not in the anal meticulous manner but a sense that things are in order because they do it as an act of worship to honor the presence of God in the place.

Proskuneo Reception Counter. Photo by Andrew Cheok.

These students usually stay in their hostel bunks but they blessed us with lodging in beautiful houses in their compound. We went to look at their hostel bunks and they are really nice and neat (sorry that we didn’t remember to take photos of it). Each room can sleep 4 people. Instead of double-decker beds, they build a upper loft with 2 beds at ground level and 2 beds in the upper so that students don’t need to struggle climbing up the ladder to their upper deck beds. Each bed has a curtain around it for privacy and each room has its own attached bathroom!

Their hospitality is a demonstration of God’s love towards us. Every small details in hospitality is thought of, including fresh flowers in the bathroom and in the living area. They provided us with bottles of water and biscuits. These details awaken my other senses of worship to God, not only audio but smell, sight and touch too! The last physical sensory is taste. We had most of our meals in the school. They provided simple meals of 1 meat, 1 vegetable and soup with fruits. Each time I partake of the meal, I feel the love of God coming through the ones who prepare it as an act of worship. I was experiencing God in a different manner upon arrival to lunch even before the actual sessions started!

Proskuneo House – 4 houses in this wing of the compound. Photo by Andrew Cheok.
Each house has two rooms in each unit with a double and a twin room, including a bathroom and a living area.
Each house has two rooms in each unit with a double and a twin room, including a bathroom and a living area.
The Twin Room has a pull out bed that can sleep two persons. Photo by Andrew Cheok.

We had our first session after lunch starting with worship. The presence of God fills the room in the simple songs that we lift up to God. Pastor Joko, the principle of the school, was playing the guitar during worship. Pastor Esther, who is the wife of Pastor Joko, taught and gave deep insights. For the 2 days of teaching, the theme was Intimacy with God, which is so much needed in the fast-paced and task-orientated culture of Singapore.

Proskuneo Worship Session. Photo by Andrew Cheok.

Another interesting place in the Proskuneo compound is their prayer caves. Students and staff use these caves for their quiet time with the Lord. They have those who have lower ceiling (you can’t stand straight up in it) and some others with higher ceiling and thus if you can jump and stand in the presence of God.

Proskuneo Prayer Caves
Proskuneo Prayer Caves. Photo by Andrew Cheok.
Proskuneo Prayer Caves
Proskuneo Prayer Caves. Photo by Andrew Cheok.

Arise and Shine

I do not like to teach. It is not because I do not want to share what I know, on the contrary I want the persons to learn it well and good. I feel inadequate to teach, the sense that I am never good enough. Let another who teaches better do it so that more people will benefit rather than me being the hindrance to their learning.

For many years, Rev Dr John Tay has been persuading me to teach at his Biblical Studies classes. I used to teach the class in 2005 but it was a really small class of five people. Early this year, he asked me again. I know I cannot run away anymore. Not from Rev Dr John Tay, but from God. So I agreed, and with the teaching it also includes writing books which are materials for the Biblical Studies program. Last Tuesday (26 March 2013) I sat in to refresh my experience of the class since it was almost a decade since I was last in his Biblical Studies class. I was INTIMIDATED! There were almost 30 students and most of them are much older than me, and I can tell that quite a number of them are leaders in their respective churches. Who am I to teach them the Word of God? I probably should be learning from them instead! Rev Dr John Tay is a well-respected man of God who has spent years in studying the Word of God and pastoring his church. People are here to be taught by him and definitely not me! I felt smaller than a mustard seed… Next thing I know, Rev Dr John Tay will be away next Tuesday and asked me to co-teach with another lady. My heart was in my stomach.

Sunday Service on 31 March 2013, my pastor read Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” and said this is for me and Ben. Timely reminder for me for this upcoming teaching.

Monday night, 1 April 2013, was tough. I did not sleep well at all, freaking out! The next day, the actual day, was even more challenging. To take my mind off, I met up with Christina, had some food, walked around a little, and sat down to run through 1 Corinthians 3-4, which are the chapters to be covered for the class that evening. When it was time for me to leave for the Singapore Bible House where the class is held, I was dragging my feet. Christina decided to send me to the Bible House and got me chocolates! Along the way, she clocked a $11 fine as she forgot to insert her cashcard when passing through ERP (a road toll). =| O God please let her appeal get through and the fine be waived! Thank God for sisters-in-Christ who made sure I get to where I need to be regardless!

Kit Kat Pressie

Dr Susan taught 1 Corinthians 3 while I was to teach on the following chapter and also on essay writing (their first assignment for this term!). I love Dr Susan’s insights and enjoyed her teaching, and I was secretly wishing that she will continue and finish the class!! When she passed the mic over to me, I was trembling inside but still trying to look composed. Something like a duck looking calm above the waters but the legs frantically peddling beneath the waters! One of the students suggested that we should have a round of brief introduction of the class and so I did that. It definitely lightened the atmosphere and made it a lot easier for me to start although I was acutely aware by then that almost a third of the class are retirees with a missionary and pastor on sabbatical.  I do not know if the class can hear the quiver in my voice but I was shaking inside! I faithfully went through what I felt I needed to cover and the class ended. God knows that I needed affirmation and encouragement. Quite a few of the students, some very senior, came and thanked me and said the class was helpful to them. All I needed to know is that I did not confuse them or make their learning even more difficult!!! So those feedback are more than I asked for!

Thank God for friends who prayed for me and did not dismiss my irrational fears. The second class is still not going to be easy but I choose to believe that it will get easier as I learn to trust God more in this. That He is the one who puts the words in my mouth and not me. Praise be to God!