Happenings

Power of the simple Gospel

Feb 2009    

H. E. Bunn, a lay missionary who taught in the MBS, Kuala Lumpur, ACS Ipoh and Singapore, recounts a moving worship experience with the simple village people near Kajang. It reminds us that true worship derives its power from telling the “old, old story of Jesus and His love”. Well-appointed church sanctuaries, exciting music, inspired preaching and Powerpoint presentations have their place, but the question is: Is Jesus there?

‘ON APRIL 10, 1921, I had the privilege of accompanying Rev W. E. Horley, Superintendent of the FMS District and Rev Kong Iau Siong, Chinese pastor, Kuala Lumpur, on a missionary journey.

We visited a Chinese settlement known as “the hill of tin” near Kajang which is fifteen miles from Kuala Lumpur. This settlement has a population of about three thousand people, who are quite simple and primitive in their manners and customs. Their schools and houses are of such unusual a type as to make you feel as if you were transported to another land and clime, so much so, that the Chinese pastor exclaimed, “Why, it is a piece of old China.”

On our arrival at about 2 pm, the people flocked to their doors and the children, in spite of evident signs of poverty, with happy faces followed us as we went from house to house. To see the respect shown to the Heralds of the Gospel reminded me of the early Christian church. We visited the school which had only been opened a few weeks before, but already had an attendance of over twenty. The equipment of the school exemplified the motto, “where there is a will, there is a way.” The desks were made of milk boxes mounted on four posts, the lids being attached by strips of leather which served as hinges. The building, which was simply an atap roof shed, was used for both school and church.

Sunday School was first held, the Gospel story being how the Master took a S$20 little child and set him in the midst of His disciples.

Throughout the narrative the little ones’ eyes were riveted on the narrator with such attention as no cinema film could ever secure from our city-bred children.

Then followed a real old Methodist service, with sermon and collection. Such warmth and fervour were exhibited that I felt it truly good to be there. As Rev Horley expounded the text found in Romans 6: “Ye are not under the law, but under grace,” it was truly gratifying to see the faces of those present clear up and break into happy smiles.

After this service, we walked through the settlement and took up a position for an open-air service. One sturdy little chap without having been told went before us ringing a bell. The people flocked out and stood around us to the number of several hundred.

Here I experienced a shock. I’ve attended services in majestic buildings wherein all was planned to touch the soul: harmonious singing, sweet smelling odours, gorgeous vestments and the pomp of Roman ritual, but never have I felt as I did amidst these simple surroundings. Nothing can compare in grandeur with this service in all its simplicity. In God’s pure air, surrounded by tropical foliage, in the midst of Eastern people listening to the simple story of the Gospel, I realised as never before the meaning of the Master’s experience as he went from village to village with great following. Truly the simple Gospel is the most powerful means to win souls.

We returned to Kuala Lumpur, but the pictures of this day will never be effaced from my memory. I felt that I had been back to the time when Jesus lived among men, and that I had been present at one of the meetings in Galilee. Though not in Galilee it was really the same, for Jesus was there in that settlement and His word has lost none of its power.

May He send labourers into the highways and by preaching the old, but ever new story of the cross compel men to come into the Kingdom.’ – MM, June 1921, p. 68, slightly edited.

■ The MCS Archives and History Library is open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5.30 pm except during lunchtime from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm.

Earnest Lau, the Associate Editor of Methodist Message, is also the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore.

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