I’m 57 years old and I have been a pastor since 1994. I was born in a multi-racial town called Sibu in Sarawak. During the school holidays, my younger brothers and I would spend a few weeks in our home village of Ulu Dalat, an Iban-dominated area.
My parents ran a grocery shophouse and they traded with the local Iban people who sold us jelutong, illipe nuts, hardwood, rubber, fruits and pepper. We hung out with Iban children as they came to our shophouse and stayed over for a few days.
We provided a simple fireplace for them to cook and an open space to stay overnight. They conducted cock-fighting events in the vicinity of our house and my father would bring us to Iban longhouses during Gawai or mourning occasions. They welcomed us very much and some of them occasionally worked for my father.
During one school holiday, my uncle who is half-Chinese and half-Iban taught me some Bahasa Malaysia (BM) words. I was inspired and thought it was such a beautiful language to learn. From then on, I was very interested in learning BM and eventually mastered it.
In my English secondary school, I took BM as a single subject. I also accepted Christ at this time. I scored credit in all the LCE, MCE and STPM examinations. At university, I graduated with a Political Science degree in BM. God also called me to be a pastor during this time, and I took a Masters of Divinity in Trinity Theological College Singapore in English.
Ever since I became a pastor in 1994, I have been using Mandarin, English and BM to reach out to both the Chinese and the indigenous people of Sarawak. Owing to my childhood, cultural and educational backgrounds, I have been able to master the three languages.
Today, I make full use of my language abilities for the kingdom of God by discipling and shepherding congregations in these three languages – as well as in pastoring, preaching and lecturing as I am now a part-time lecturer at Sibu Methodist Theological School in the BM department.
To the younger generation in Malaysia, I pray that my background will inspire you to master the three languages used in our multi-racial country, in order to communicate with all races and live harmoniously with everyone.
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