More than 400 youth and young adult leaders were urged to “look at the internal affairs of the heart and to take time for God to search hearts, invite Him to do heart transplants, godly cardiac arrests, fix holes, install pacemakers and implement spiritual cardio exercises”. The Rev Khoo Kay Huat, Chairman of this year’s Young Methodist Leaders’ Conference (YMLC), went on to say: “We want God to breathe new life into our hearts, bringing resurrection power and bettering our inner lives”.
Held at the Holiday Inn Batam in September 2013, this yearly conference has been the turning point for many young adults who heard God’s call to them.
For the Rev Chan Siew Chye of Pentecost Methodist Church, it was the 2002 conference: “I sensed the Lord telling me to finish my engineering studies and be ready to enter into full-time ministry when He said so – much like how Moses spent 40 years in the desert before he was called to deliver the Israelites from slavery. That encounter with God changed my life completely. It gave me a sense of purpose that guided every decision I made from that day onwards.”
This year’s conference theme verse was: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) Pastor Benny Ho, Senior Pastor of Faith Community Church, Perth, and the Rev Malcolm Tan, Pastor-in-Charge, Barker Road Methodist Church shared insights and truths from God’s word.
Six plenary sessions covered relevant ministry and personal Christian growth topics such as service, the busyness of life, temptation and brokenness. On top of the Word sessions, there were many opportunities to be in God’s presence, dwelling in Spirit-filled worship sessions and heart-changing ministry times.
Delegates had valuable opportunities to meet, share and learn from each other’s experiences in the break-out groups led by pastors. Mr Justyn Tan from Kampong Kapor Methodist Church said: “God changed my heart, increased my faith and opened my eyes to see His presence and power with me through my challenges. I received much encouragement from meeting and sharing with leaders from other churches.”
Mr Graham Rozario from Pentecost Methodist Church said: “This was my first YMLC. It was great to meet new people who also believe in Jesus. It doesn’t matter that we are from different churches; we can always get to know one another, minister to each other and show genuine love. We all need to be united… that pleases God.”
The Rev Anthony Lee of Ang Mo Kio Methodist Church received his call into full-time ministry at his first YMLC in 2002, and he had a similar revelation: “YMLC also stands out as a connectional event as it constantly reminds me that God is at work far beyond the scope I am currently involved in, and for that reminder, I am always grateful.”
Like Mr Rozario and many others, this was my first time attending the conference, and I was thankful for three days well spent in God’s presence.
The message “When we are serving the King” delivered by Pastor Ho really cut to the heart and made me think about what is the right attitude to have when serving God. It reminded me of how generous God is and His big heart for Man. My takeaway was three important lessons: Toward God, not to be calculative; toward others, not to be competitive; and toward myself, not to be conceited, but to be a bold and humble leader.
I was awestruck during morning worship at how majestic God is, and was humbled by His great love for us, despite our many imperfections and weaknesses. I was amazed at the fact that though Man is full of flaws and unlovable, God not only accepts us, but goes the extra mile – He chases after us and even desires a relationship with us. His audacious love simply cannot be comprehended by human understanding but is revealed to us by His grace through the Holy Spirit.
For Pastor Jason Phua, Fairfield Methodist Church, God’s affirmation was clearly communicated at the YMLC in 2007: “I was given a card, which stated that someone had prayed Joshua 1:9 for me. Throughout the conference, I was given strong affirmations that the Lord has called me to ‘teach His Word’. Over the next few years of theological study and serving full-time in Wesley Methodist Church, God affirmed His call for me to ‘teach His Word’ as a pastor.”
The many lessons and divine experiences from other attendees at the conference formed a beautiful tapestry of testimonies to God’s goodness and love, and His very evident presence at YMLC.
Recalling how he responded to God’s call into full-time ministry at the 2002 YMLC, the Rev Raymond Fong, Wesley Methodist Church, said: “What a joy to see the next generation of leaders pursue God with contrite hearts, allowing God to restore
and revive them to walk in humble obedience to Him. What a privilege to be able to journey with them.”
I would encourage young Methodist leaders to attend next year’s conference when it returns in September. It is a great opportunity to spend time with God and His people, discover God’s calling for your life, and most of all, have your heart changed by His divine presence.
Pictures by Emmanuel Goh
ENCOURAGE your church’s young leaders * by praying for God to touch and energise them for His work * by making room for them in your church’s various ministries * by making yourself available and approachable for mentoring relationships.
18- to 35-year-olds, ATTEND your conference’s youth leadership event next year! * Trinity Annual Conference: Young Methodist Leaders’ Conference, Sept 2014 – Contact the Rev Khoo Kay Huat, firstname.lastname@example.org * Chinese Annual Conference: Young Leaders’ Conference, early Oct 2014 – Contact the Rev Jasper Sim, email@example.com
Andrea Low is a volunteer contributor who is passionate about story-telling and travelling. A PR communications professional by day, she worships at Christalite Methodist Chapel.