SOMA Conference 09
Revd Sydney Mbatha descibes this vision and mission exposure trip as ’life changing’.
We arrived in Singapore on the 12th August and the following day proceeded to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, where we had a good chance to worship in the Cathedral of All Saints in a lively service full of enthusiastic and vibrant worshipping Anglicans. There were no spectators - all who were there were truly participant in the service. It was good to be there. The service itself was on fire and all were longing to be part of it. What impressed me was the involvement of the young clergy and the laity. What I noticed in that Diocese of Sabah is that the bishop and clergy have got one goal - to speed up the message of the gospel to all people. Amazingly, they are Anglicans who have a burden to spread the gospel.
The Church in South Asia has seen amazing growth despite the odds stacked against it. The government of the day doesn’t give them a chance to operate freely as here in South Africa where we have great opportunities. The result is that even the sister churches are as big as the main mother church. According to the history of the church there, in 1960 Christians in Singapore were fewer than 2% of the population. I was told that nowadays about 25% of the population would say with conviction that they are Christians.
I was fortunate to be a leader of one of the teams comprising eight Chinese speaking missionaries which went to the Parish of St Margaret, with its outstations, in Keningau. The main languages spoken are Bahasa/Malay and Chinese. We visited more than five churches. What I enjoyed the most was the life of the different people. At St Margaret’s they have four Sunday services, including one at 7h30 in Bahasa/Malay attended by 200 people, a Chinese speaking service at 9h30 and a combined English and Chinese service at 16h00. All the services are well balanced and the youth is active in leading them. Their programmes for Sunday school are good, and are similar to our Siyakhula kuKristu.
So their passion for our Lord is remarkable, and inspired and challenged us to examine our Christian walk. What had an impact on us is that they take Matt 28 v 19-20 very seriously and they make mission in their talk, walk, action and practice. I compared their vision with our Pastoral Plan and felt that if the clergy and lay people can take the Pastoral Plan seriously the church in the Diocese of Zululand will renew its strength.
I would like to thank the Bishop for his support, the Revd ChristianViljoen for insisting that I prepare myself to go there, and all those friends from inside and outside the diocese who contributed towards my fare. Lastly, I have to thank the SOMA leaders for encouraging me to be one of their members in sharing the good news abroad. For me going to Malaysia was like the watering of a growing seed.......