One Year Later…
Written by Ps Dev Menon
Last week I was interviewed by an ex-colleague in Manchester. He was asking pastors in various cities what lessons they learned leading churches through the coronavirus outbreak. This gave me much-needed time and space to reflect on the many things that took place in Zion Bishan over the past one year. It was great to be able to process them openly with a wise and discerning friend. As I talked things through, 3 things stood out:
- Crisis tests many things – especially relationships. While we were in the early season of radical (and weekly!) change, there were countless issues to discuss, countless meetings were held online. I was answering several 100 messages per day and often staying up past midnight anxiously thinking through the myriad of challenges. Yet as complex as these matters were, I realised if the relationships were strong, creative solutions were fast coming – everything was ‘can’. However, if the relationships were weak, each problem was insurmountable – everything was ‘cannot’. I think this was not just true in church, but in workplaces and amongst husbands and wives.
- Encouragers are the Church’s greatest (and rarest) treasure. When things change, we get upset. Amidst the chaos, there was much anger and strong opinions. This was understandable as every arena of life was disrupted simultaneously – including church. Everything familiar was being torn apart and people needed an emotional outlet to express their feelings. Again, I think we can understand – it was (and still is) a difficult time. But amidst the frustrations, there stood out some rare jewels – the encouragers. Those that despite their own discomfort, tried their best to empathise and support. Some by words, some by gifts, and the greatest by saying: ‘how can I help?’. Wow – these brothers and sisters blew my mind. This was 1 Thessalonians come to life (the sermon series we were going through at the time). God’s constant Word to me, through them, was #tambahminyak – keep going.
- The hardest yet most liberating thing is to let God lead. In the beginning I was desperately trying to hold on – to keep everything as ‘normal’ as it could be. After a while I realised this was futile, and furthermore debilitating to my mental and spiritual health. Resentment was growing against God for taking ‘my church’ away (i.e. church the way I like it to be). After the sermon series on Lament, it allowed me to let go of the forms. I realised once again that this is God’s church, and He must lead. If He wants everything to change – so be it! Who am I to argue? This freedom allowed me to open my eyes to new possibilities. But more importantly, it re-opened my heart to His goodness. To be led by the Father, really is the most comforting feeling in the world – yet it is such a hard truth to hold on to! God help us!