Sunday, January 23, 2005

Heeren Hustling

Heeren hustled the long weekend, acquiring a shiny nutmeg hue browsing antique stores like private museums, rich gula melaka and coconut milk chendol flowing through our veins, inhaling wisps of dragon beard candy, attended by a happy steaming fragrant parade of chicken rice balls, bubbling satay celup, dark sauce carrot cake fried at a crossroad, succulent sausages on sticks, marbled tea eggs, lemak laksa, handmade wanton noodles, sigh-inducing ayam buah keluak and chap chye, assam fish, mee siam, prawn noodles, tender gong bao chicken, claypot assam sotong…

Curiousity lured us to an evangelistic rally by Brother Yun, the "Heavenly-Man".

It started well with the focus firmly on God and an introduction that Brother Yun was no more special than anyone else, and that the reason he was there was merely to encourage with his testimony. Amazing testimony, if true, about his Acts-style escape from a top-security jail in China, imprisoned for preaching the gospel. As someone noted, we are sometimes too quick to disparage miracles when, really, God acts in everything and sustains everything; miracles are merely God acting in not-the-usual way. Brother Yun urged the capacity crowd to realise that if God could save him from prison, God too could save them. From what, he did not specify. A shameful wasted opportunity! Not that people should trust in God just because of the incredible events of BY's escape but the special circumstances should encourage them to investigate this God and this Jesus more closely and find that their claims in the Bible stand up to all kinds of scrutiny, even if BY's testimony doesn't.

Then it descended into a messy healing altar call, with either BY or his Italian translator urging the people to stop thinking that they were sinners and know that Jesus loves them. At which point, I wanted to get up on that stage, grab BY and his translator, shake them and scream,"Are you mad? Are you out of your mind? You've just turned the hearts of the people away from God and pointed them the way to eternal destruction! Without realising they are sinners who have rebelled against God, they cannot repent. If they do not repent, they cannot be saved!" It was a lost cause. We went into the night with heavy hearts.

On Sunday morning, we accepted an invi to a Pentecostal church service and thought it would be a great opportunity to meet with brothers and sisters in Christ. The guest speaker was Frankie Khoo from Penang. Unfortunately, what transpired was even more distressing than what was said at the other night's evangelistic rally. The song leader started off by saying that if we worship God correctly (that is, with fervent passion in singing and dancing), God MUST obey us. The cheek! There and then, I realised what it really felt to hear God’s name used in vain, and it's shockingly horrible. It's a puny creature claiming that the Creator of the universe is its little pet dog. Complete insanity. Bloody arrogance. Arrrgggh. And FK wasn’t any less upsetting. Ignoring his irritating idiosyncrasy of peppering his talk with loud "hullo?!"s, his consecutive sentences were logically incoherent and contradictory and totally unbiblical, he was full of himself (repeating "my higher calling" in reference to his preaching), and was consumed with bitterness, spending at least 40 minutes grousing about how people didn't give him enough money when he preached ("do I look like a monkey?") and predicting that God would curse those who were not generous with him, a man of God. It really sucks to have God's good and pure name dragged in the dust like that and the clean and clear logic of his word muddied. Horrible and ugly.

What can one do in situations like these? Go up, grab the mike and disrupt the talk? Sneak away quietly and rebuke ourselves for being judgemental?

After much reflection, it seemed that the fear of seeming judgemental should not prevent the exercise of the discernment required by God in watching out for false teachers. Neither should it prevent right anger that God's person and reputation and word are being trampled in the mud. Avoiding judgementalism would require us to realise that we too could have been just as bitter a false teacher (log-in-own-eye procedure) if not for the grace of God that led us to ARPC and the hand of God over the faithful preaching at ARPC thus far. Thus in the right humbleness of heart, we can help them correctly, depending on the sovereign God and praying for FK and the congregation that God will turn their hearts to him, as God did for us.

Am glad a vote of thanks was taken
at the close of the ARPC ACM (Annual Congregational Meeting) to show appreciation to the pastors for teaching the bible faithfully. It's something we tend to take for granted and don't quite appreciate. But in this fallen world, it's hard work to keep on the straight and narrow path, turning neither left nor right, always heading towards God and his truth. Thank God for his work in that too.


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