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My good friend Rudolf has a blog of rejoicing and praising our maker.  I hope that you will take the time to click the link below to see what his blog shows to.

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Amazing Facts is a Christian ministry dedicated to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and the three angels' message of Revelation 14 to the entire world through television, radio, literature, live Bible and prophecy events, the internet, and evangelism training.

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Salam sejahtera dalam Kristus, Terima kasih atas kesediaan Saudara berkunjung ke situs kami. Jangan tinggalkan situs ini tanpa menjelajahnya lebih dulu, ada banyak hal yang akan saudara dapatkan. Silakan membaca dan menggali. Tuhan memberkati.

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The Voice of Prophecy radio, Bible school, and evangelistic ministry has its international headquarters at the Adventist Media Center in Simi Valley, California.

Fred Kinsey is the speaker/director today, and Voice of Prophecy strives to stay on the cutting edge in reaching contemporary society, utilizing the latest technologies for sharing God's Word.

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The It Is Written ministry is based on the premise that God’s Word has the answers to today’s challenges. The Bible outlines a message of hope and contains thousands of promises to empower your life.

It Is Written believes in the Bible as the only true authoritative guide to life. We seek to share the Word and encourage a personal relationship with Jesus through a commitment to personal Bible study.

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The Quiet Hour's mission is clear; to share the saving grace of a merciful God with the world by preparing and supporting modern-day disciples and creating communities of believers who build up the kingdom of God on earth.

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Sammy Lee, Serving 45 years in 5 different Countries  

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Sammy Lee Serving 45 years In 5 Different Countries

Chapter 1- First year as ministerial intern

In 1962, almost half a century ago, the president of West Java Mission, Pastor Leo Lesiasal, recruited me as a ministerial intern for his Mission, to work in Jakarta.  I had just graduated from the Indonesian Adventist University (Union College at that time) from theology.

My duty was to be a pastor of the Taman Sari church, also known as the Chinese church of Jakarta.  I was given a small room in the workers’ quarters next to the Kramat Pulo SDA church, at that time the main church in Jakarta.  I had to go visiting on a pushbike from Kramat Pulo to Taman Sari, about 10 km away.

Our local church elders were Paul Lee and Oei San Hok.   The church treasurer was Eddy Nyo, and the church secretary was his wife Erlien.   The only Adventist in my family was a cousin called Johanna Tan, who had studied with me at the college

I made my first visitation to Erlien Nyo, who was the matron and head nurse of the maternity hospital at Sawah Bazaar, located not far from our church.   After a while another member called Jenny Oei, who was the wife of the elder of the church, stopped by the hospital to visit.  While we were talking, after I had been introduced to her, she asked me if any member of my family was also a member of the church, but I said no.  My father was a minister of the Pentecostal church and all my brothers and sisters were also Pentecostals.  But I remembered that my mother had mentioned I had another cousin called Yenni Tan, the elder sister of Johanna, who was also an Adventist, but I had never met her.

At that she exploded into laughter, saying “Hey I am Johanna’s elder sister, my maiden name was Tan.  You must be the son of my aunty!  And your father must be Uncle Lie Beng Kiat. I used to carry you around when you were a baby.  I could never have imagined that you would become my minister one day!  One thing I remember about you when you were small was that you were very naughty.   One day you baptized Aunty Bet’s rooster in the fish pond.”

You can imagine my embarrassment when she told me how naughty I had been when I was small.  I became speechless when I realized that she was my cousin.

A month later my cousin Jenny came to visit me where I was staying, next to the SDA church at Kramat Pulo.  When she saw my situation, she said,“ Poor Sammy!  You live in such a dark and shabby place, all alone and a long way from your place of work.   Now you can pack up your things and move into the pavilion behind my house.”

I thought that was a blessing from the Lord, because I used to feel tired after going around on my visitation rounds or going to the church on my bicycle, most of the time under the hot tropical sun of Jakarta, with sudden storms.  I also felt lonely being a bachelor in the workers’ quarters, compared to the crowded dormitory where I had lived for 5 years at the college.

My cousin and her husband, Oei San Hok, had 4 bedrooms in their main house, and at the back, they had 3 bedrooms, in another building.   I was very thankful to the Lord because from that time on, I did not have to prepare my own food but now I had the pleasant duty to take the 3 girls to school and to be a part time baby sitter for their 2 sons, Charles and Harry.   Sabbath was always a very happy day for me because on Friday evening the Oie family never missed having a vesper service to welcome the Sabbath hours when the sun set.  We used to sing Sabbath songs from the Indonesian church hymnal, and everybody was asked to memorise a text, and I was asked to give a devotional talk.

The following day we usually spent in the church, with the church service followed by an AY program which continued until the time to close Sabbath, about 6 pm.  After closing of Sabbath, my cousin did not want to cook so we always went to a Chinese restaurant to have our meal, as a family.  I felt those were the happiest days of my life to that time.

I remember Pastor Lesiasel and Dr R H Tauran, our teacher.  Every time they came to Jakarta, they used to spend the night at this house.

So that was the beginning of my ministry, for about half a year because then my fiancee’s mother became ill in Manado and she had to return.  Lynn was still studying at the college at that time to finish her BA.    She had to return to Manado, and that time, just after the end of the civil war in Indonesia, transportation was very difficult.  

One month by boat from Jakarta to Manado 

We tried very hard to get a boat that would take us direct to Manado, which would have taken only 4 days and nights, but we were unable to obtain tickets.  Fortunately one of our members, Philip Lesiasel, was an inspector of police, in charge of the harbour in Jakarta.  Through him we were given tickets to join a group of ex rebel soldiers from Manado, who had been rehabilitated in Jakarta and who were returning to their home with their families, on a motor vessel called Tanjung Alang.  Of the 300 or 400 passengers, the 2 of us were the only ones not family members of the soldiers.  We were a little worried when we found ourselves sleeping on the deck together with those soldiers but the Lord moved the heart of a sergeant major among them.  We called him Uncle Lintang.  With his wife and 2 children, they treated us as part of their family.  We were very thankful for this, and we travelled with them for the whole month which the boat took to reach our destination.  This ship was a cargo ship but also used as a passenger vessel in this emergency situation.  At the same time they had to carry cargo, so we had to visit almost every harbour between Jakarta and Manado. 

We left Jakarta on October 30 1962 and we arrived in Manado on December 1.  We had to stop every port between Jakarta and Manado, including Bali and Lombok.  This ship which we called Tanjung Sialen (which means a damned peninsula) at one time had to return to a harbour which we had previously left, because she had to pick up another load of cargo, to the consternation and annoyance of all the passengers.

It is true that we had no problems with lack of food, although the rations were very simple, consisting of tofu, tempe, eggs, and once in a while we had dried meat and salted fish with vegetables.  The sanitary facilities were hopeless.  The smell was terrible.  I remember when I arrived in Manado, my hair smelt like a septic tank.

Poor Dince Thio (Lynn), the first few days every time she went to the bathroom she vomited because she could not stand the smell.    Every time the boat moored at a port, we felt very thankful because we could go to a proper bathroom and toilet facilities on land, and eat proper food at the restaurants on land.  But if I look back at all this, I am very thankful, because that is the only time I have been able to visit so many towns and cities in Indonesia.

Besides that, we were very happy to be able to spend the time on the boat telling stories and jokes on any topic and after we got tired of talking with each other, we joined the group who usually had one or two who could tell very humorous jokes.  The Manadonese are very well known for their joke-telling.  Every night we could be heard laughing until midnight and I used to feel cramps in my jaw and stomach from laughing too much.

Married and Hijacked by the North Sulawesi Mission

When we arrived in Manado, Lynn’s father Thio Gan Tha came to meet us.   He persuaded us to stay longer until the transportation situation had improved.  But they said it was not good for us to stay single, so they decided Lynn could not return to school and we would have to get married.  So our wedding was 10 days later.  We followed the will of our parents and we had our wedding on 12 December 1962, conducted by the President of the North Sulawesi Mission, Pr A M Bartlett.    Pastor Bartlett not only performed our marriage, but he also decided to hijack us and I was given work as assistant evangelist for the whole mission.  This caused Pr Lesiasel to become very upset and he criticized Pr Bartlett in the Union Conference.  So I was asked to conduct my first evangelistic effort in a suburb called Paal II Manado (second mile from the city) in front of an orphanage called RAPI, operated by one of our members called Butje Laloan.  The irony was that Minahasa, of which Manado is the capital, is the only place in Indonesia where about 90% of the population is Christian, and yet it was there that we had the greatest opposition and persecution by fellow Christians while conducting evangelistic efforts.


Every night during the meetings, we used to hear stones as big as mangoes thrown on the corrugated iron roof or on the tarpaulin tent roof, which we used for meetings.  Sometimes the noise of the stone throwing was so bad that it sounded just like machine guns.  But after a while I became immune and did not even notice, and continued preaching without being disturbed.  Toward the end of the meetings, when I was going to have my first altar call, we heard the news from our members that some of the local protestant members had decided to attack us and to terrorize us in the meeting.  In the past there had been some of our ministers who had been stabbed or hacked with machetes by these fanatical Christians.  The person who was in charge of the security was Serjeant Dondokabey, a member of the Tikala SDA church.  He gathered our members with the help of several policemen, entered the meeting place and searched for weapons.  He collected 9 machetes which were usually made from car springs, and used for splitting the coconuts but on certain occasions could also be used to split open heads.  From the interrogations, it was found that these people had been paid by the leader of the local Protestant church to terrorize us, to prevent us from baptizing their members into the Adventist church.  They admitted that they had been given alcoholic drinks before coming to the meeting.  We thanked the Lord because He protected us and we were saved from any harm.

When we had a baptism at the end of the 40 nights of meetings, there were 45 candidates including my in-laws, who joined the church.  One very touching experience was witnessing a 16 year old girl named Rita Manoppo, who was threatened by her father that he would kill her if she decided to become an Adventist.  She was prohibited from joining the Sabbath meetings which were conducted in the tent, but she still joined us in spite of the threats.  So just one day before the baptism, the father got hold of her hair, and using a very sharp machete, cut her beautiful long hair and finished it with scissors, making her bald.   He was satisfied and thought that he had been successful in stopping his daughter from being baptized, but the following morning she came to the river where the baptism was held, with a towel covering her head.   Together with the other 42 souls, she was baptized that Sabbath morning.  Three other candidates had been baptized a week earlier because there were two young men who had to travel and they wanted to be baptized before they sailed away.  The third was my mother-in-law, who insisted that she might not last another week and that she had better be safe and be baptized.  Actually earlier she was the one who was against letting my father-in-law attend the church on Sabbath morning, because she insisted that they had been saved as members of the Full Gospel Church.    The story of her conversion is rather long and I will tell it in the next episode.


Chapter 2

Pastor AM Bartlett, the president of the North Sulawesi Mission, performed our wedding ceremony on the second floor of my father-in-law’s house, which is across from the former Union Office at Jalan Komo, Tikala, Manado.   That house was also used as a branch of the Full Gospel Bethel Church, for worship which was conducted every Wednesday evening.  When we were married in that house, the pastor of the Bethel church proudly announced to their church members that we were married in their church and that since we were children, we would have to follow our parents to become members of the Bethel church.


Actually, as obedient children and respectful to our parents, we did attend services in their church on Sundays.  I purposely did this because I had a plan to win the hearts of my in-laws.  After attending several meetings in the church, I noticed that my two brothers-in-law always went out at night until late in the evening, to enjoy the young night life, so I told my in-laws it would be good to conduct evening worship before they went out.  And so my father-in-law told them that they could go out in the evening only if they had attended a short prayer meeting with their sister and brother-in-law.


At that time we were given a very simple slide projector from Hope for Today, operated by a 100 Watt bulb, to project 28 lessons in the form of film slides.  Several nights after we started I noticed that the minister of the Pentecostal church came and purposely joined us.  I was delighted in the beginning, thinking that he might be converted.  But apparently he was smarter than us, he came to listen to what I was teaching the family and showed interest, even taking notes of what I taught, but later in his church, he contradicted what I had taught, to his members and to my in-laws.  He only came to find out what I was teaching.   I thought I was disadvantaged, because I could not find out what he was saying about my lessons.  So I decided to change my tactics.  I told my parent- in-law that I had noticed the boys were very reluctant to attend my evening meetings, and that they just slipped out into the darkness when we showed the slides.  So I suggested that we change the meeting from the evening to morning devotions at 5.30 am.  Everyone wakes up about that time in Indonesia.   And after we started the early morning devotions, the Pentecostal preacher never showed his nose and they did not have any excuse to leave the house that early in the morning.  So I was able to teach all our doctrines with a full attendance from everybody.


A couple of months later my father-in-law said “I have studies more lessons from the Bible in the last couple of months than in all the years I have attended the church before.  I feel like I have been promoted from primary school to senior high school.”     I said “This is only an introduction, next month I am going to conduct an evangelistic effort at the Orphanage and our member Brother Reiter Sengke, who owns a bus, is going to pick us up with any other people who want to attend my meeting every night.”


Pastor Bartlett had gone to attend meetings in the US and before he left he asked me what I needed for the evangelistic effort,  that he could buy for me.  I remembered previously helping Pastor Clinton Shankel in Jakarta, when he used black light during his sermons.  So I asked Pr Bartlett if he could get me black light equipment, complete with fluorescent chalk and a lapel microphone.  So together with a tape recorder which I bought from him, I used this in my first evangelistic effort.


From the first night the evangelistic meetings were a big success, with guests filling the tent, which had a roof made from corrugated iron. The tent was filled, and outside people were watching what I was teaching using the black light.  News spread around that there was a young Chinese minister who conducted public meetings in a strange way, contrary to the tradition in those times.   The practice was to add to the limited electrical lighting with pressured kerosene lanterns.  But in my meetings I even turned off the electric lights, just using a small spotlight directed to the faces of the speaker and the Bible reader.  I was using the illustrations on the large flannel board with the outlines of my sermons and whatever pictures I had or made with fluorescent paints and chalks.  Another thing that surprised them was that they had never seen a lapel mike before so they could not understand how, without using a loud speaker, my voice was so loud coming through the PA systems.


Every day my in-laws plus several of our local church members, and our domestic helpers, helped me to prepare the pictures and outlines for my sermons which I used for the nights.  Later on when I conducted evangelistic meetings in other towns, I continued to do this.  I always made new audio-visual aids with the help of the members where I stayed to conduct the meetings.  This way the neighbours, out of curiosity, always came to see what we were doing, and I was able to give them a review of my lessons by way of conversation.  At the same time we practised singing new songs for the meetings.  Usually we conducted our meetings for an average of forty nights each series and I also made it a custom to start the work of preparing the audiovisuals with morning devotions, singing songs and studying the texts for the day.


When we were about in the middle of the series, I invited my in-laws to attend the Sabbath worship conducted at the tent, which usually lasted throughout the day until the evening.  My father-in-law was very happy to attend the worship on Sabbath but my mother-in-law did not want to come, saying that she already belonged to the fold of Jesus.   Out of desperation, I told her that she belonged to the goats’ fold, not the sheep fold.  My mother-in-law was very patient and was not annoyed at all, she just smiled at my remarks but her heart was just as hard as rock until the last week before we were going to have the baptism.


One Wednesday afternoon at her church, the pastor was discussing the nailing of the law to the cross by Jesus.  He gave a sermon about the age of grace and that we do not need to keep the Jewish law any longer.  He was imitating me by using a large black board and made a picture of the cross with Jesus hanging from it, with a piece of paper indicating the Ten Commandments.  He took a nail and a hammer and nailed the Commandments above the head of Jesus.  He said that in the age of grace that we to depend on the sacrifice of Jesus for salvation, and not by keeping the 10 commandments which were only binding for the Jews.  He was right in saying we depend on the sacrifice of Jesus for salvation, instead of keeping the law, but he was wrong in saying that the 10 commandments were abolished by His death.  Usually all the members of the church, including my mother-in-law, showed their agreement with what their preacher said by saying amen or hallelujah.


But suddenly that afternoon, for the first time in the history of their church, and without realizing what she was doing, as she told us later, she stood up and spoke out loudly, “Pastor Liem, the law that nailed to the Cross and abolished by Jesus was not the 10 commandments but the laws of ordinances and offerings that are the shadow pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross”.  She was actually repeating what I had said.  This was related to us by her when she returned home later.  In that church she was usually called Aunty Ian, and according to her, that afternoon when she stood up, a fellow church member who was sitting beside her pulled the seam of her dress and said “Aunty Ian, sit down.  Pastor Liem has not finished his explanation” but she did not take any notice, but continued narrating for almost half an hour.


The preacher had always encouraged to members to let the Holy Spirit fill them and talk about the work of God, and now he could not stop his member from her speech.   He tried to get her to sit down but she kept on talking.  So he thought that his turn would come to repair the damage she had done, but as soon as she had finished talking she realized what she had been saying, and she was very embarrassed and angry with herself for interrupting the preacher.  She said “What have I done?”, thinking the devil had used her to disrupt the church service so she went home crying.


 So we asked her what had happened and tried to comfort her as she was weeping.  She kept on saying that she must go and apologise to the meeting.  I asked her opinion, “Do you thing that if the minister Pr Liem was guided by the Holy Spirit as he always claimed, that the Holy Spirit would allow you to destroy the truth that he says he has?   If you were possessed by the devil, do you think that the Holy Spirit which is in the pastor is weaker than the power of darkness?  You are contradicting yourself, and so is the minister.  And another thing is, by apologizing to him, you disgrace me and in that case I had better get out of this house and ask for housing from our mission.”     That stopped her from doing what she had intended to do.  I convinced her that it must have been the Holy Spirit which controlled her, enabling to preach and to teach for so long, while in the past she had not said a single word.  She was very upset so my wife and I  had a special prayer for her that night.


The following Sabbath morning, 3 days later, two young people had to leave for job appointments in Makassar in South Sulawesi, so they asked for an early baptism one week before the planned event.  The church board discussed their request and when my mother-in-law heard about this she asked my father-in-law to request that she be included in the early baptism. We tried to persuade her to join her husband and the rest of the candidates on the great day of baptism the following Sabbath.  I do not know if it was out of fear of her experience with the preacher, fear of being cursed, but she said she was sickly and might not last another week and wanted to make herself right with the Lord.  This was nothing short of a miracle wrought by the Holy Spirit in her heart.  Both my inlaws became very faithful members of the SDA church in Manado after their baptism, until their deaths. 


A few years later they were planning to come to visit us in Sydney but while waiting for their visas in Jakarta, my mother-in-law had a second stroke and died, and was buried in Jakarta.  But my father-in-law came to visit us and stayed for almost a year in Sydney and at the end of the year he was admitted to Sydney Adventist Hospital with a heart attack.  He was buried at the Avondale Adventist cemetery in Cooranbong.   Somehow through mistaken identity, those in charge of the cemetery thought he was the father-in-law of Pastor Gordon Lee, when the SAH chaplain rang to ask for a plot.  So he was given the only available site, close to the gate, in the Pioneers Cemetery.  I feel amused to imagine what will happen at the resurrection at the coming of Jesus when he will be confused to find himself the only Chinese amongst all the European Australians there.


Besides, my in-laws, one of our domestic helpers was also baptized with 2 other members of the Bethel church.  After that baptism we took down the name board of the Bethel church from my in-laws house.  There was no joy greater than witnessing the conversion and baptism of the two of them.


The next evangelistic meeting after that was held in a suburb called Gunung Potong, in the village of Singkil, Manado, where we built a tent like the one used in the first series of meetings.    The area was well known as a location of heavy fighting between the opposing forces of the Civil War a few years earlier and the people who lived in that area were known to be very aggressive. So we got the biggest portion of stoning ever in our meetings in that area.  Every night hundreds of stones were thrown on the roof.  All these things did not deter us from continuing our meetings and the attendance was always large.


 One night a group of about a dozen youths from the local Protestant church had the brilliant idea to try to stop our meeting.  The group consisted of the most intelligent young people of their church, who were students of the State University in Manado.   Even some graduates from the University were there.  They came and sat in the front row inside the tent, and as my custom was, I gave the audience a chance to ask questions without notice.  So that night they arranged things in such a way that, starting from their leader, they stood up one by one, and asked questions without giving me a chance to reply.  Their purpose was obviously not to learn the truth but to disturb the meetings and preach their own doctrines to us.


At that time Pastor P L Tambunan, our new Union treasurer, had arrived in Manado to take up his appointment, but since his house was still being renovated, he was staying with us in my father-in-law’s house.  Every night he joined us in attending the meeting but that particular night the evening was quite cold and he was wearing an army type jacket and was seated in the back row of the tent.   When the young people started to barrage me with their questions, he came forward from the back row, and in a very authoritative manner and voice, rebuked them and said “You are not coming here to find the truth, but coming to disturb a properly authorized religious meeting.  That is not the way to conduct yourselves.  If you really want to ask questions, you should give the speaker a chance to reply before asking the next question.”  Then turning to me on the platform, he said, just like an army commander “Please continue”.


It happened that the people were waiting for a new police commander of the province, a man named Police Commissioner Panjaitan.  So they thought that Pr Tambunan was the new police officer for the province.  They kept quiet during the rest of the meeting.


In my next part I am going to relate how Husin, a Muslim young man, had a vision in which he was instructed by the Lord to come to attend our church and after attending my meetings, he was baptized and a few years later, became pastor of the Tikala SDA church.


Chapter 3. Visions and Miracles during the Gunong Putong Evangelistic Effort


The name Gunong Putong as I have told you earlier, was given to a village where I held my second evangelistic meetings.  The name was given because they excavated the hill which separated the village called Singkil from Tuminting and Tumumpa. So because it looks like big brown cake which has been cut in the middle, to enable the road to continue to the other village, connecting the villages in between, they called it by the name, which means The Cut Hill.   According to the local people, the name also means that during the Civil War, it was used as a defence post by the Permesta rebels and that in that spot, a lot of soldiers from both sides had been slaughtered during the battles.      


The first reason that the evangelistic effort which we conducted drew such big crowds was that the Minahasar people are basically very religious and the majority of them are Christians of various denominations.  The second reason was at that time, the Civil War had just ended and the people were thirsty to listen to the Word of God, and to have religious meetings since during the war they were not able to gather for such occasions.  They needed the comfort and to hear the news of peace and hope.   I have to mention also that my wife Lynn (Dience) for almost 40 years has been very active and enthusiastic, full of a sacrificial spirit in supporting my work.  She was also my Bible reader in most of my evangelistic efforts, which was one of the main attractions because she was petite, very fluent and had a high pitched and piercing voice, a unique combination that was able to be heard a long way off.  She did not need a microphone or an amplifier.   Especially during visitation, she was always the main star.  She spoke fluently and humorously, always laughing and her laughter was always infectious and her listeners would laugh with her.

Of course I must mention how the young people of the different SDA churches in Manado, especially Tikala, fully supported me .  I cannot mention all of them, but among others are Tinneke Assa,. Marie Mamesah, Henny Marningka, Mieske Mambu, Griet Manuhuarapon. Sammy Maringka, Engku Manopopo, Heru Soriton, and uncounted others.  They were the real pillars of the work of God in that city.  They were very diligent and on fire to do the work of God, talented and highly motivated.  They had beautiful voices and at the same time they were also decided to conduct the Voice of Youth.  Before the first effort they asked me to train them to preach.  At that time I was suffering from a cold, after visiting a village with my senior pastor, Pastor K Walandouw.  Because the time was very short, I had to do the training while I was lying in my bedroom, while they were all sitting in the living room listening to my voice through the loud speaker and taking notes of my sermons.  The Voice of Youth was very successful and God blessed them with fourteen souls, mostly young people and some of them later also became pillars of the Tikala and Teling churches.


Judging from the number baptized after the evangelistic effort at Gunong Potong, which was only 27, the effort was not so big.  But when I consider the miracles that happened I can say it was one of the most impressive, to me as well as to our members in that area.  As I mentioned, the meetings at Paal II, and Gunong Potong, were the meetings which inspired the young people to conduct their first Voice of Youth.  After that other young people in the various churches were encouraged to follow in their footsteps and VOY were conducted through out the whole province. And now, not only Voice of Youth programs, but Voice of Tiny Tots conducted by primary school children and even a few kindergarten children became quite popular.   I always hoped that this kind of enthusiasm should not diminish but continue to burn until the coming of our King.


A few days after the evangelistic effort started, a young man by the name of Husin Saleh, was praying in the square in front of the municipal council office, because it was the Eid-ul Fitr, the great Muslim festival.  While he was praying very devoutly, amidst thousands of Muslims in that city square, he had a vision of a cross in the form of very brilliant light like the sun, which blinded him.    It was early in the morning when the sun was not high, but still behind the hills.   Believing that the sign of the cross was a symbol of Christianity, Saleh became frightened and his whole body was trembling.  Immediately he recited a few verses from the Koran asking for forgiveness from Allah, and prayed, “Oh Allah, my God, please forgive Your servant.  Your servant never thinks about evil things and I never dream of backsliding from You.  Please take away this symbol of heresy from my sight.”  He fell down on the ground and prayed with his forehead on the ground.  But although his were closed, he could still see the shining cross.  Suddenly he heard a voice, very clear, saying, Husin Saleh, I am the God you worship.  I will be coming back very soon to this earth and I will give rewards to those who are faithful in following My will. Today I want you to go to my church and there I am going to give you instructions about what you must do in waiting for my coming and witnessing for Me.”  Saleh replied in his heart “Oh my God, I have never sinned against You.  How can I sin now by doing this? Please take away this vision from me.  Please chase the devil away from tempting me.”


But the Voice continued to ring in his ears, when suddenly he remembered that it was not Sunday at all.  In fact it was Saturday so he thought it was impossible that there would be Christians going to church on that day.  He knew very well that the Christians went to church on Sunday, which in Arabic is Ahad, meaning the first day of the week.  So he was comforted and he was convinced that this vision must have come from the devil, for it was impossible that God had made a mistake in the matter of the order of days.  After the Eid-ul-Fitri prayer, Husin happily left the square on his way to visit his friends and relatives in the festive spirit of the day.  Suddenly he was a little shocked when he saw a gentleman wearing a necktie, and carrying a Bible and some other books.  The man, who must have been a Christian,  was apparently going to church.  Now he began to question in his heart, “Now who is making a mistake?  Is it possible that God made a mistake or have I been wrong after all?  Is this really Saturday or is it Sunday?  Perhaps I have been the one who is wrong.  Apparently this is Sunday because that is the day the Christians go to church to worship.”    He hastened his steps and overtook the man who was one of our members at the Tikala church.  Saleh accosted him and said, “Excuse me sir, are you a Christian?”  The man replied that he was, then Husin asked another question, if the man was going to the church to worship.  The man gave an affirmative answer.  Then Husin said, “But sir, this is not Sunday, is it?”  The man replied “you are right, this is not Sunday but Saturday which we call Sabbath.”


At that time they were approaching the SDA church in Tikala, so Husin, although still troubled in his mind, but thinking about the vision, asked if it was alright if he joined the man in entering the church.  He replied “Of course you may, if you want to come as a visitor our church is always open to the public”.      To shorten the story, Husin entered the SDA Tikala church that day and stayed to the end of the service.  After the service Saleh was invited by our brother to have lunch in his house and later on, during and after lunch, he asked question after question about the beliefs of that man.  After explaining for hours to Husin, whom he saw was very sincere in trying to find out the truth, Bro Dondokambey invited him to attend the evangelistic meetings I was holding at Gonong Putong.


At the end of the meetings, Husin was one of the 27 baptised, although he had a very serious challenge and death threats from his family.   His elder brother tried to kill him and his father threatened to disown him as his son.  He was reminded by the father that his inheritance consisting of a large piece of land containing 10,000 coconut palms would pass to his other brothers.  At that time the price of copra was very high, and a coconut plantation was a very valuable source of income for the people of North Sulawesi.


Husin replied that he was very sorry and although he loved his father and his family, and would continue to love and to respect them, he felt he must follow the call of God, Who was willing to die to save him, and Who has promised him a happy life, eternally and not only temporal.  He tried to explain to them that the ceremony they called Qorban which they have to do every year, was not only to ask people to be generous to the poor, but it was actually a spiritual legacy of Abraham which symbolized the real Qorban which is Jesus Christ, which in the Koran was also referred to as “the Highest, on earth and in the life to come.”.  Also in the Hadith, it is also mentioned that Jesus the Son of Mary will come back to this earth to become the Righteous Judge.  But as the Bible says, many will be called but only a few will be chosen.  We can only try our best to witness about the truth that we know but only God Who decides who are worthy to be saved in His kingdom because only He can read the heart of man, even to the divining of his marrow.   I can also add that besides Husin Saleh, there were others who were baptized into our church who were formerly Muslims, among others an Indonesian Army lieutenant Sugeng and his wife and another woman from Java, who was one of our domestic helpers, whom we called Bibi Sri.   


This had happened in 1963.  I returned to Manado in 1996 and I was invited to preach in the Tikala church during the Youth Congress at the SDA University and the pastor of that church at that time was none other than Husin Saleh.


I have to mention some other miracles that happened at Gonong Putong.  Towards the end of our series of meetings, when they knew that some of their members had taken the decision to be baptized into the SDA church, some of the youth from the Prostestant church decided to prevent this from happening and they decided to kill me, as the speaker.    This caused great concern among our members, so that every night all our members surrounded me as I left the tent to go to the car of Pastor Bartlett, who always picked me up each night.  One member reported that one of the leaders of that group boasted that he was going to beat me that night.  But before the end of the meeting, he went with his friends to the night bazaar held in Singkil, carrying a hand gun which belonged to his brother.  He might have carried that gun only to frighten us, but he was very stupid in entering the marketplace and was spotted by a security guard and was taken to the Army post.  He was interrogated and was beaten by the guards.


After the meeting on the last night of the series, which had run for one month, some of our members were going home on foot towards their village in Tumumpa, which is a fishing village.  Some of the young people who were not satisfied with what they had done to us, picked up stones and threw them from the top of the hill beside the road.  But none of the stones hit our members, instead one hit some of the fishermen who were walking beside them and incited their anger.  These fishermen chased those young people with their machetes in their hands.


The following Sunday we and some volunteer members were helping to take down the tent.  I was carrying my audio visual equipment from the side room, helped by some of the church members,  when a piece of plank measuring 4 metres by 40 cm, which we had used to hang the posters above the pulpit, suddenly fell down and hit me in the middle of my back.   A member was dismantling the equipment without realizing I was passing underneath, so the plank fell and hit me in the middle of my back, like a guillotine.  Several members who saw this screamed in fright and were sure I would be very badly hurt if not killed.  But, praise the Lord, nothing at all happened to me, not even a scar on my back   My father-in-law wanted to make sure that nothing harmful had happened to me and took me to a Chinese traditional medicine man and chiropractor.  He examined me thoroughly and said that no harm had been done.


Chapter 4    Breaching the Fort in Airmadidi

The town of Airmadidi lies 18 km north of Manado.  In 1964 I was assigned to conduct an evangelistic effort there.  We did not have an organized church in that town at that time.   There was a group of about a dozen believers who did not have a fixed place of worship so they moved from one member’s house to another’s.      That is why the people of that town derisively nicknamed them “The Flock of Birds Church”, because they were just like a flock of birds moving from one place to another in conducting their meetings.


The people also referred to that town as the Fort of the Pentecostal Movement.  With a population of only 2000 there were 16 different of Pentecostal churches in Airmadidi .  In fact in the main road of the town there was one Pentecostal church called The Holy Spirit Rays of Light Church and opposite that church was another calling themselves The Light of the Holy Spirit Church.  One was led by a father and another by his son, but they were not on good terms with each other.  There were also two Pentecostal Bible colleges in that town.


In the past, our church had conducted 6 evangelistic efforts by 6 different ministers, among others Pastor Pattyramie and Pastor Rantung.  Pastor Rantung is the father of Dr John Rantung who is now Dean of Theology at Indonesian Adventist University in Bandung.  From all those efforts they did not have enough members to build a church. That year my son was born and because we were praying that this time the Lord would give us victory, we named him Victor.


In that evangelistic effort I was assisted by an intern called Hans Manembu and by the local elder, the late Lieutenant Rudy Manoppo,  the father of Pr Chris Manoppo,  and by all the members of the neighbouring Sawangan and Tumaluntung churches.  We set up a big tent on a vacant block of land, next to the substation of the Electricity Company, right in the centre of the town   We were using a brand new tent, just purchased by the North Minahasa Mission, which was intended to be used in their camp meetings.  I was given the privilege of using it for the first time.  It was a very big tent which could accommodate about 1000 people inside, but during the meetings the members estimated between 1500 to 2000 were outside listening.  The audience came in by bus from surrounding areas, the members hired buses to bring them and visitors to the meetings.  Especially on Friday and Saturday nights there were no spaces left.  This shows how our people at that time were so enthusiastic in supporting our evangelistic efforts in Minahasa.


The only other church which used to conduct evangelistic efforts were the Pentecostal churches, but usually their series lasted 3 days to a week at most.  The meetings we conducted in this town lasted for 45 nights.  They were all surprised to know that our few members were able to conduct such a long lasting series and they were curious, especially when they found out that the evangelist was a young Chinese pastor.  So they came every night.


There was one lady from the Dutch Reformed Church who invited her neighbours to attend the meetings.  But she was always given the same answer, “We are faithful members of our church and we feel that we belong to the flock of Jesus so you do not have to invite us.”  But she continued to invite them every day to attend the evening meeting.  This lady always said “You have to come, you ought to come.  This is different from any meetings we have had before”.  She seemed to be moved by the Holy Spirit to be our promoter right from the beginning.  Her husband was the recipient of a medal from the Queen of the Netherlands, for being one of the most outstanding elders of the Dutch Reformed Church and he was a very respected member of the community.   Both husband and wife were so interested in studying the Bible in those meetings that they did not miss one meeting during the whole series.  After a few days their minister heard that they were some of the faithful people who were attending the Adventist meetings.  Together with some of his elders he went to visit the couple.  They always arrived just a few minutes before our meeting started.  So they were trying to prevent them from attending our meeting that night.  But Mrs Lengkong did not show any embarrassment in asking them to leave in time for her to attend the meeting, closing the windows and saying that she did not want to miss any of the wonderful sermons.  She would invite her minister and the elders to accompany her to the meetings.


I always enjoyed working in small churches, but especially in this town, with just a handful of members who were so united and co-operative under the leadership of Bro Manoppo who was a retired Indonesian Army officer.  The members from the adjoining villages also never missed the meetings.  They came on foot, and every night when we returned to the elder’s house we would look up to the hills and see a procession of lights, which were the torches carried by our members as they made their way to their villages up the mountain.  We were very moved by this sight, which looked like a formation of military aircraft.  Those people were very diligent in bringing guests with them to attend the meetings.


In Minahasa we never had any problem finding singers or members for the choirs.  Those people are very talented singers and they enjoyed performing their beautiful songs.   Most were composed by themselves and in fact they always presented in their songs the lessons I was about to preach.  Especially on Friday and Saturday evenings our meetings always finished just before midnight.  They came by buses and trucks which they hired, and even by horse drawn carts.  Very few of them had private cars.  I can say that those were really the golden days of evangelism in Minahasa.  We never had any budget for transportation costs or for gifts for the attendants but the tents always overflowed with people.


Our budget for meetings like that averaged only R25000 (About $US25), and that was for major efforts.  I usually spent about R100,000- 150,000, the shortfall made up from offerings and the sacrificial giving of my wife and my in-laws.  I must also mention the families of Senke and Samola and Lengkong, whose financial and moral support during all those efforts was just outstanding.  Our choir groups with their golden voices seem still to be ringing in my ears, even though sometimes I was a little uneasy because they preached my sermon before I delivered it.  Sometimes in their singing they described hellfire for those who did wrong things, before I had even presented the messages.


Hans Manembu my assistant was a very handsome young man and full of humor and that is the reason we attracted a lot of young ladies to the meetings.  In turn the young ladies attracted the young men, who wanted to be close to them.


I can mention some of those young people who assisted me in my efforts in the past. There were Pr Benyamin Sakul, Pr Frans Togas, Pr Bernard Mambo, Pr Ronny Mamarimbing, Pr Willy Rumambi, Bro Wim and Jootje Rumambi, 3 brothers., Mietjie Rumambi, and many others.  These were wonderful helpers, full of enthusiasm and loyalty.  Their contributions towards the success of the meetings were immeasurable and I am very sure that abundant rewards in heaven await them.   Besides these there were so many church elders who were very faithful and made a lot of sacrifices giving the funds, forces and voices.  Up till now I am usually moved in gratitude when I remember them, especially to think that many of them are now resting awaiting the Resurrection morning.  To their relatives and children or grandchildren and their friends who happen to read this story, I would like to extend my greatest appreciation and thankfulness.  I hope you are all continuing to be faithful in following their footsteps so that one day we can sing joyfully together on the Sea of Glass, the songs which you have contributed in those evangelistic efforts as we are gathered in the City of New Jerusalem.


I can add one experience with Bro Rudy Manoppo, when we started to gather bamboo poles for the erection of the tent.  We were going up a hill on the slope of Mt Klabat, on an ox cart.  After cutting the large, long bamboo poles we loaded them onto the cart and on our way back, the road was so slippery that the oxen stumbled and fell and the cart overturned, the load landing on the road.  We had to jump to avoid the bamboo and being hurt.


Toward the end of the meetings Brother Makahinda, a teacher from the Technical College in Airmadidi,  used to attend the meetings with another friend, Hans Hakiang.  They attended the meetings faithfully every night.  Both of them were members of the Dutch Reformed Church.  The wife of Brother Hakiang was very angry and objected to her husband’s coming to the meeting.  They always quarreled every night when he returned from the meeting and several times Mrs Hakiang threw his clothing into the mud or pig feed.


Toward the end of the meetings Lynn and I, carrying our 2 month old baby Victor, went visiting people who had been attending the meetings from the beginning.  We visited Brother Hakiang.  At the time we called he was not at home.  Mrs Hakiang seemed very unhappy to see us, but out of curiosity from the reports she had heard about this tiny Chinese minister’s wife, who could read the Bible fluently in Indonesian, and who carried a cute 2 month old baby, she reluctantly permitted us to come into her home.  We heard from her husband that she was very unhappy to know that he was interested in joining our church by baptism.  So we explained to her that she should be happy if her husband became SDA, and be thankful to the Lord because everybody knew that we had a very high standard in morality and health principles. So if she loved her husband she should support his decision, because she would not lose her husband but would gain a better one.  Most of the non-SDA men were smokers, drinkers of locally made spirits made from the sap of a local palm, and gamblers.


While we were having our conversation she remained silent, not uttering a single word.  I noticed through an open door in the living room a small bedroom where a man was wearing a green coloured army underwear and crew cut hair, was walking back and forth inside that small room.  To me he looked like a deranged person and I also noticed that there was a submachine gun hanging on the wall near his bed.   We prayed and returned home, because the time was approaching for the evening meeting.


Just a few minutes after we arrived home Bro Makahinda the technical teacher came to the elder’s house where we were staying.   He had a worried look on his face, and said to me ,”Oh Pastor, I was so scared when I heard that you had visited the house of Brother Hakiang.  Do you know that his brother-in-law is a former rebel soldier who was very notorious for his cruelty.  He has committed several murders and he was in and out of jail for these crimes.  He was there just now but he could not do anything.  The Holy Spirit must have restrained him, but after you left he remarked to his sister that if he meets you out in the street he will really give you a lesson.  He will beat you and even kill you because he was very angry and accused you of being the cause of the quarreling between her and her husband.  He said that people like you who cause families to split are not worthy to be allowed to live on in this world, so I am very sure that the angels of the Lord must have protected you and now my faith is strengthened.  Before this I was a little hesitant about joining the baptism but now I want to confess that whatever happens to me, I am determined to join the baptism.”


That night while I was preaching my sermon suddenly there were several gunshots outside the tent and people screamed. The sounds came from an automatic submachine gun and at the same time the light inside the tent went off.  Apparently Hans’ brother-in-law, being unable to suppress his anger, had come to the tent with his gun and shot the electric cables supplying our power and shot the fuse out so we had a black out.  We had to wait for quite a while until the worker from the power company came to fix it.  Luckily he lived not far from that place.


After we finished that meeting that night we heard from Brother Hakiang that his brother in law was determined to cause a commotion in the meeting that night, and at the least to beat us.  But because of that he was arrested by the military police who heard of the situation.


The wife of Brother Hakiang, on the Friday evening before the baptism, took all the clothing from her husband’s wardrobe and threw it into a laundry tub full of water, hoping this would prevent him from attending church on the following day.  She was so determined to prevent her husband from being baptized.  But Hans Hakiang outsmarted his wife.  A few days before, he had taken several sets of clothes to the laundry, and kept it there because he thought something like this might happen.  So that Sabbath morning he wore his farming attire and appeared as if he was going towards his vegetable garden.  His wife was relieved but he went around the village, stopped at the laundress’ shop, changed his clothing and went to the church.  Without his wife’s knowledge he was baptized.  We baptized about 50 people at that time. By God’s grace, some of those baptized included the mother of Dr Daniel Kambey, the recipient of the Queens medal, and his wife, and more than 40 others.


We had rented a big house with 5 rooms, in that town, which was formerly used by the military during the Permesta rebellion.  We paid the rent on that house for 3 years after the mission – it was a dilapidated house and the rent was cheap.  We used the living room for our first few meetings for the newly formed church. When the Klabat University started with their first batch of 26 students they used that house for the dormitory, office and class.  Not long after the end of the meetings they started to build the present Airamadidi SDA church, followed by the establishment of the SDA University of Klabat.   Even  now we can say that the town of Airamadidi is the mostly densely populated by Adventists in the province.


About a year later after attending an extension school from Andrews University, in our university in Bandung, I was driving a motor bike from Manado towards Traman, a village not far from Airamadidi.  While passing through the streets of Airamadidi I saw a woman in front of me standing beside the street and signaling me to stop.  When I came closer I was a little worried to see it was the wife of Bro Hakiang, but I saw that instead of a frown on her face, she was smiling sweetly so I was relieved. She said to me “Pastor Sammy Lee.  Please come to our house for a while”.   She continued, “I have just been baptized.  Please come and visit us.”  You can imagine that was one of the most beautiful pieces of news I ever heard.


Chapter 5 Minewerot and the longest evangelistic series


The next evangelistic effort which remains in my memory was conducted at Treman, which is one of the chain of villages called Minewerot.   The chain starts from Tumaluntung which is the village next to Airamdidi.  It continues with Lembean, Kaasar, Karegesan, Kaima, Treman, Kawiley and Kauditan.


This was the longest series of meeting that I ever conducted and drew the biggest audience from the local villages, besides guests who came from other towns.  The meetings lasted for 100 consecutive nights.  Our original plan was to conduct the meetings for only 70 nights.  That was already considered quite long in comparison to the other meetings which we held for an average of 45 nights.  But after the meetings had gone for 65 nights, we received letters from the local population who were mostly non Adventist, requesting that the meetings be continued for 3 more months.  Of course we could not agree to this request because we had to move the tarpaulin to another town, Langowan, for the next evangelistic effort.   But because of the interest in that area, after discussions with the Pastor John Raranta and other leaders of the North Minahasa mission, we compromised and added 30 more nights to the original 70 night program.


The extra meetings would be held at the Treman SDA church, which was formerly used by the Pentecostal congregation.  Our people in that area did not have any church prior to these meetings.  They usually held their meetings in the members’ houses but after the end of the meetings the membership increased almost 3 times so they decided to take over the local Pentecostal church whose members had almost all been baptized into our church.  There were 74 who were baptized at the end of the meetings, several of them became members of the SDA church in Kaima, others in Kawiley and Kauditan.  During the whole series of meetings the attendance was very large, both inside the tent and outside.  We had a member called Reiter Sengke who owned a bus and he was very helpful in picking up people from all the villages around the meeting place.  The choir groups from all over Minahasa very frequently came to contribute their music, especially on weekends.


One of the most memorable people in the audience was an elderly man who never missed attending the meetings right from the beginning, and who always sat in the front row.  His name was Mr Tanod, one of the most prominent members of the community and he was also known as Johnny’s Father.  He owned one of only 3 rice mills in the whole area.  His wife was the sister-in-law of the then Governor of North Sulawesi.  He was called Johnny’s father because his eldest son was an officer of the Indonesian Navy but was killed in an accident from the naval training ship called RI Dewa Ruci.


Mr Tanod was interested in attending my meeting because according to his testimony, my face and my actions were very similar to those of his deceased son.  That is why he never missed a single meeting from the start until the end.  The whole family was very kind to me and they even spread the news that they were adopting me as their son in memory of their dead son.   And even long after the meetings, every time I visited that area, they always invited me to stay overnight in their house.

Another important event during that meeting was the birth of my daughter whom we called Tremy, in memory of the successful effort in that village.  During the meetings, which lasted for more than 3 months, I became very attached to the local members as well as to the nonAdventist members of the community who lived around the house of Kisan Makalew where the meetings were held. They were held in his front yard.  Every morning we made the audiovisual pictures and sermon outlines.   We started with morning worship and choir practice for the songs which we were going to present in the evening.  This experience we never had in big cities where I held meetings later.  Most of the evangelistic meetings conducted nowadays last only for 2 or 3 weeks so this kind of experience cannot be repeated.


Towards the end of the meetings, about the 60th night,   I went down to the city of Manado which was about 25 km away, borrowing Brother Lengkong’s jeep.  – He was the elder of Kaima SDA church and his driver was Brother Mudeng.   On the way back from the city I decided to take over the driving.  In one of the back streets, climbing up a hill, I saw a pedestrian who suddenly crossed the road in front of me.  I tried to avoid hitting him, and turned the steering wheel suddenly but when I turned the wheel back I lost control and the jeep entered a big drain on the left side of the road. The impact was so violent that the right front wheel was thrown away and windshield was broken.  That was not modern safety glass.  There was a hole about 10 cm on the wind shield which was apparently hit by my face.   I had only a small cut on my nose, which is a miracle - if it had been hit by my forehead, my forehead would have been cracked open.  I had been feeling a little dizzy while I was a passenger and thought I might feel better if I drove.  The owner was very kind when I returned; he was a very well to do member.  He owned some service stations and was an agent for the Indonesian petrol company.   So the policeman who saw the accident from a distance came running, thinking that some one must have been killed.  The driver had a broken leg from the impact and there was no logical explanation about how the glass was broken by my soft nose but I think that an angel covered my face and left a little scar, which I still have, as a momento.   I went to the closest medical clinic to have my nose dressed with a band aid and that night I appeared on the platform with the band aid on my nose.   We were very thankful for the apparent miracle that the Lord performed that day.


Although I had that mishap, I am very thankful for the divine protection and intervention of which I was always reminded, however dangerous my situation after that.   The incident gave me confidence and increased my faith in His protection, and trust that He would continue to take care of me.


When I was making the altar call, according to  my custom I came down from the platform to be closer to the audience, and started to make my appeal, that they would come forward in a decision to be baptized.  I did not expect so many people to respond to the altar call.  They came forward and filled the small space in front of the platform so that I was forced to climb back up to the platform.  There were more than 100 who surrendered that night. There were 74 in the first group baptized, others were baptized later.  There were twin sisters who surrendered that night and the father, a carpenter in the village, was a member of the Protestant church.  He was so very angry when he heard the news that he picked up a half finished chair with which he beat the twins.   They came to the fishpond the following Sabbath to be baptized, still carrying the bruises from the beating, but they were determined whatever happened to be baptized.  Years later, one twin married one of our ministers, while the other sister was married to the elder of the church in Palu, Central Sulawesi. 


Other cities in Minahasa in which I held evangelistic efforts, and really felt the special blessings of God and great miracles, were Langowan, Seretan, Rerer, Bitung, Maumbi, Ratahan and Sario.  There were so many baptized during those evangelistic efforts that I cannot remember the exact total, let alone remember their names.  Quite a few babies who were born during those days were called Sammy by their parents.  This sometimes became the subject of a joke amongst my friends, saying that I had all those children in the villages.  I usually told them that they were my Anak gelap, which means illegitimate (‘dark’) children in Indonesian but I said they were really children of the light.  Many years later I used to meet people who claimed they were baptized in one of my meetings, but I could not always remember them.  Some even have become ministers of our church today.


I want to appeal to those who are working in the Lord’s work to continue untiringly.  There is no reward more satisfying than to see souls baptized into God’s kingdom as we wait for His soon coming to take us home with those we helped to save.  I am sure the time is closer to that glorious day than when I was conducting those meetings.  The reason I said we are much closer to the end is that during those days, more than 40 years ago, the USA did not have any diplomatic relations with the Vatican. When we preached about the coming Sunday law which will enforced by both the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant churches of America, people used to ridicule us and call us fanatical fools who did not know the American constitution, which had been established by the Protestant church,  and that such a law would be contrary to the American constitution.  During those days we had never heard of some of the dreadful diseases like HIV-AIDS, avian flu, mad cow disease etc.   We did not have computers, mobile phones, and all the modern gadgets that are so common today.  At that time we could not imagine how the gospel could be preached in all countries and nations at the same time but now we see this happening right in front of our eyes.  At this moment our radio and TV broadcasts can be conducted simultaneously across many countries around the world and be heard by thousands in various nations and in many languages.



Chapter 6 Preparation to Become a Missionary to Malaysia

In February 1967 there was an East Indonesian Union Conference Meeting held in Manado when 4 of us ministerial interns – Daniel Pungus, Yusak Palar, Frederick Langingi and yours truly were nominated to be ordained as ministers.  The ordination was conducted by Pastor Eddy Longway, the Field Secretary from the Far Eastern Division.  


During the ordination Pastor Longway gave us the ministerial charge, telling us that if we had any reservations, any thought of withdrawing or of pulling back from this holy calling in the future, to consider carefully whether we wanted to go ahead.  He emphasized that the call to ministry is a call for life.  He described the call to become a minister as a 24/7 commitment.  After describing the difficulties, the duties and the dangers which we might face as servants of God, he again asked if any of us felt it was too heavy a burden, as we could still withdraw at that moment.  He said it would be better to do it now than to do it in the future.  Those remarks made a very deep impression on me, so that later, whatever problems came my way, and however difficult the situation, I determined to continue to serve Him, true to my calling.


Several times during my life I found really difficult situations which made me decide to take leave of absence from the mission, but I continued to serve as a volunteer self supporting evangelist, or more appropriately, a God-supported evangelist.

At the end of the ordination Pr A M Bartlett, our Eastern Indonesian Union President, called me aside to speak to me privately.  He told me that the Union Executive Committee had suggested my name for the position of Youth and Radio Evangelism and Voice of Prophecy director for the East Indonesia Union.  I replied that I would find it difficult to live behind a desk, surrounded by four walls.  I would rather be a church pastor of the smallest and most isolated church rather than be confined to an office.  Pastor Bartlett expressed his appreciation of my view, although he said that he was a little disappointed that I did not want to accept the call.  Then after that he handed me an envelope saying “Actually I did not want to pass this call on to you, if you had accepted the nomination for the position that I have just offered you.  But because you have refused, even though I am a little reluctant, I will give you this call that might be closer to your heart.  The Sarawak Mission in Malaysia needs an evangelist and your name has been discussed in the Division meeting.  But if you decide to stay in Indonesia, I would be very happy to discuss again with you other positions in which you could serve.” 


After discussing the call with my wife and her parents, and praying for the Lord’s guidance, we finally decided to accept the call to Sarawak.  Before we departed to take up our new responsibilities, I was requested to conduct my last evangelistic crusade in Manado.  I worked for 2 weeks in Rerer, where we were blessed with the baptism of 14 souls.  That was the first baptism which I conducted after my ordination.  I could describe it as my maiden baptism for my future service as a missionary.

We left Manado in the middle of March 1967 to get a visa in Jakarta.  When I went to the Malaysian Embassy there, the officers told us that diplomatic relations had just been resumed after the confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia, known as the Trikora (The Three Peoples’ Revolution, a term coined by President Soekarno).  So they told us that it seemed impossible that they could process our applications to be missionaries to Malaysia in such a short time.  I told them that I was not working for a government or a commercial business, but for an international world wide NGO.  So I pleaded that they make an enquiry to their Department of Foreign Affairs in Kuala Lumpur.  According to the letter I had received from the president of the Sarawak mission, this call had been approved by the Malaysian government.  Two weeks later we received the green light and I was told by the Vice Consul of Malaysia who was in charge of visas that we were the first Indonesian family to enter Malaysia after the confrontation.   We were to go to Singapore to the headquarters of the Union Office and the Far Eastern Division, to make financial arrangements and to buy our household goods, according to the instructions of the Mission President Pastor Richard Hall. 


When we arrived in Singapore we stayed at the guest house next to Youngberg Memorial Hospital.   Coincidentally my cousin and her husband, whom I have mentioned earlier, were also in Singapore working for a prefabricated house manufacturing company there.  In the afternoon of the day we arrived, Pr Paul Eldridge, the FED president, was so kind as to visit us at the guest house and personally took us around to show us the city of Singapore.  We really appreciated his hospitality because I realized that he was a very busy man, taking care of such a far flung field which stretched from Indonesia to China at that time.


After our tour, he rang Pr Harapan Liklikwatil to help us in our shopping, buying our household goods, and in providing the transportation while we were in Singapore.  Pr Liklikwatil took turns with my cousin’s husband Oei San Hok in helping us to do the shopping for our needs in Sarawak.  According to the working policy of the FED, we were allowed to bring our household effects from Indonesia or to receive a sum of money as an outfitting allowance to purchase goods in Singapore and then travel by boat to Sarawak with our goods.  For the two weeks we were in Singapore we were able to visit the Balestier Road Church and the Dunman Road church, which at that time was called the Malay Congregation. Most of the members were from Malaysia or Indonesia and the meetings were conducted in Indonesian and translated into English, or vice versa.   Most Malays can understand Indonesian but the reverse is difficult.


After 2 weeks in Singapore we boarded the MV Petaling and sailed for 3 days to Kuching, after visiting one port on the Malaysian peninsula.   We were thankful that we did not have to experience any storms like the one experienced by Jonah.  On the contrary, we were given very special treatment from the captain, who was an Englishman, and the weather was just perfect for sailing.  We were always invited to have our meals together with the captain and the officers.  Our two children really enjoyed being pampered by the crew.  The crew consisted of English, Indian, Chinese and Malay sailors.  They were all extremely friendly especially to our two kids who were treated as royalty. 


When we arrived at Sarawak on the afternoon of April 7, which happened to be a Friday, all the missionary families were there to meet us at the wharf.  They were the Halls, the Ortners and the Aldridges and the Sibaranis, plus several members of the Kuching SDA church.  We were very impressed by this special welcoming committee.  From the wharf we were taken on a city tour of Kuching, the Cat City, by the president of the Mission, Pr Dick Hall and his wife Jane.  Then we were taken to our temporary quarters, in a huge ancient wooden building with a very large courtyard.


That house was formerly occupied by the American missionaries Pr Fox and his family, but it had been empty for quite some time. It was a two storey building.  We occupied the upper floor where there were 3 bedrooms.  The ground floor was occupied by Han Chung Kong and his family.  He was the treasurer of the Sunny Hill SDA school.  They occupied 2 bedrooms and we shared the bathroom, kitchen and dining room.  The house was said to be haunted and according to our church members no one else dared to occupy it except us Seventh-day Adventists so we were a spectacle to the neighbours, watching to see if something would happen to us.  The mission president told us that the workers housing complex was being constructed at the Sunny Hills school campus, and as soon as that was ready, we could move to that facility.  Praise the Lord, He protected us and nothing drastic happened before we moved into the new house.  During the rainy season the house had some leaks and because repairing the house would cost too much, they decided to sell the house and land and for the time being we were transferred to a house that they rented close to the mission office.    


Apparently I had tried to escape from the lion’s mouth but I entered the crocodile’s jaws. I had objected to sitting behind an office desk in Manado, but as a matter of fact when I arrived in Sarawak I was given far more responsibilities in the office, as director of youth, radio, evangelism, VOP correspondence course and ministerial secretary of the Sarawak Mission.  At the same time my wife was asked to become a marker of the Bible Correspondence Course in Mandarin and English, as well as doing literature evangelist’s work.  She was not given a permit to work full time as a teacher at the Sunny Hill School.  The Immigration Department would not give her permission to work as her passport described her as a house wife.


I had to divide my time, 2 weeks working in Kuching in the office, and 2 weeks doing evangelistic work in the Dyak longhouses. During the day in the long house we conducted a kind of Vacation Bible School where we taught the children to read and write, to draw and sing.  Then when their parents returned from the jungle or their farms, we had an evening Bible study or evangelistic meeting. 


These Dyak long houses are constructed like a very long barracks where the villagers live, each family occupying an apartment in the long house.  There are a sleeping room, a dining room, a kitchen and a bathroom in each.   Underneath the long houses, built on stilts, were their livestock.   The livestock usually consisted of poultry, pigs and goats and dogs.


The Dyak made their living from hunting, spearing fish in the river, or cutting rattan canes or gathering rubber.  They also had rice paddy fields and vegetables.  These Dyak people lived a very simple life which could be described as primitive, almost in stone age conditions.  Their men wore only loin cloths and carried baskets on their backs, where they put their catch.  Every one carried a machete and a shorter knife and they looked just like Tarzan or American Indians.  Actually they were better off than people who live in big cities.  They lived close to nature, peaceful and secure, far from the hustle and bustle and pollution of the big cities and they ate fresh food direct from its source.


Our church members in these villages worshipped in very simple buildings, consisting only of corrugated zinc roofing or shingles and with poles made from hard wood supporting the roof.  The floor was made of logs or bamboo, covered with thatched matting.  They did not have furniture in these small chapels, but every body sat cross legged on the floor like the Muslims in the mosques.  In the beginning it was very difficult for me to follow them sitting in that style.  Every Sabbath they came to worship, in a simple service consisting of Bible readings, singing songs in their language and listening to stories, and taking turns in prayer.     They could stay in the church the whole day until sunset and never get bored or rush home.


I was always assisted on my trips by a couple of young people who were students of the Air Manis (Sweet Water) Academy who had been sent by the principal, taking turns as trainees in field evangelism under my supervision.  During the first few meetings like this I felt very lonely and miserable every time I had to stay for 2 weeks in the jungle of Borneo but witnessing the response and gratitude of the people and their friendliness toward strangers, brought me comfort and compensated for the loneliness. 


To give you an idea of how isolated these places were, in many instances we had to be flown in the Mission Cessna 206 by our President Pr Hall for about 30 minutes, landing in a jungle airstrip built for emergencies, made of grass or just gravel, sometimes mud. In some villages they had steel plates left over from the British occupation, forming the runway.   From there we still had to go by outboard motor boat for several hours and after the stream became too small to be navigable, we had to walk for several more hours to reach the village. Sometimes we had to pass swamps where we had to walk on long bridges made of a couple of bamboo poles.  In some areas the bridges were single logs across the swamps.  I never stopped admiring the agility of the local people who could run on those narrow bridges.    They could also carry heavy loads on their back, like our Honda generator and my AV equipment and books that we had to carry, besides us our suitcases and bags.


When we were still a long way from the long houses, they already knew of our coming.  Usually we were met by children and their mothers or grandmothers who were calling from the villages with a loud voice which rang through the jungle,  shouting “Niki” which in Dyak means “Please come up into our house.”  Without exception we had to climb up a ladder made of a single tree trunk where they had cut notches for steps.  Those little kids could run up and down very fast, while city slickers like us had to walk slowly holding on to the side rails and we became very amusing sights for the local people.  They used to laugh at our ungainly movements.      Sometimes if the village was really isolated, and they seldom could be visited by people from outside, they would welcome us like dignitaries.  We were welcomed by a line of girls wearing their best clothes, consisting of a brief top and sarong, and many gold and silver ornaments, including their teeth sparkling with gold.  In their usual working life they did not wear the tops.  Their bodies sparkled with gold.  They welcomed us with dancing.


These are some of my never to be forgotten experiences in the jungles of the head hunters of Borneo.



Chapter 7 Acting as ‘dentist, nurse, dispenser, masseuse, and midwife assistant’

The office of the Sarawak Mission is located on Third Mile Rock Rd in Kuching.  The land is quite big in area, because it includes the Sunnyhills School, churches,  and a staff housing complex for the mission workers and teachers.  The territory covered by the Sarawak mission is quite large.  Most of the area is thick jungle and thus the need for a mission aircraft to be able to access to all the churches in the territory.  In all of Sarawak we had 7 emergency landing strips, they were all made by the members of those churches with the help of the local population who realized that in an emergency those landing strips were their only contact with the outside world, because their villages are so isolated.  


We conducted evangelistic efforts and vacation Bible schools, although we did not use that name for our program, most of the children we taught were not attending any school because there were none nearby. 


Besides teaching those children we also had to take care of the needs of the adults and so we acted as unqualified medics, doing the work of nurse, and all the other things and we had only been trained for a short time by our mission president.  Pastor Dick Hall was an experienced pilot and first aid worker who had worked together with the world famous Dr Tom Dooley in Laos and Vietnam.   Dr Dooley worked with the Catholic mission and he was in the leading mission called the Medicorp to help the sick in Vietnam and Laos.  He was given the nickname “Dr America” which in the Vietnamese language is Thanh Mo America;  he was also sometimes called the Dr Albert Schweitzer of Asia.  From Dr Tom Dooley Pr Hall received his training as a paramedic so that he was quite well versed in treating sick people and even practicing as a dentist.


For the first time I felt ill at ease, I was worried about the consequences if we mistreated the people of the village.  But our mission president said that if we did not help those people most of them would probably die so it would be better that we do something to relieve their suffering even though there was the risk of mistakes.   Besides he reminded us that the Lord promised to help us perform miracles in healing those people so long as we tried to do our best in relieving the suffering of those isolated people.  If they really needed medical help in serious cases Pr Hall always tried to take them to the nearest available hospital in the cities of Kuching, Miri or Bintulu.


We were trained by Pr Dick Hall in medical missionary work and many times we had to act as dentist to extract teeth from the suffering Dyaks in their villages.  We did not have anaesthetic equipment so we could only give them aspirin or paracetamol before we did the extractions using ordinary pliers, which we sterilized with alcohol but thank the Lord we never experienced any complications in my time serving there.


We were always supplied with medicines for general illness, such as diarrhoea, stomach trouble, headache, fever, influenza, malaria, worms, skin problems, eye infections, cough, asthma, boils, which were not too dangerous even if we made some mistakes in treating them

Quite often we also had to act as masseuses for those who had sprained joints or who had back pain due to their hard work and bearing heavy loads.   And this skill is quite handy for my wife now.


At one time there was a pregnant lady who was expecting to deliver and Pr Hall was supposed to take her to the Government hospital at Bintulu but the weather was not cooperative and so Pr Hall was delayed in coming.   She was screaming in labour and the local pastor said that I had to help him in this emergency to deliver the baby.  I was praying all the time that Pr Hall would arrive before the baby was born because frankly I was very nervous, with a cold sweat all over my body.  I almost fainted when I saw the mother was screaming in Ibun “Akai Akai, Parai me aku” which means “Oh my I am dying”.  And when I saw blood coming out when the baby was born I was just at the point of fainting.  But praise the Lord she delivered safely and this experience happened only once in my life.


At another time a very tall Dyak was suffering from a gum infection and toothache in his lower right incisor.  Because I was afraid there would be complications I suggested he wait until the arrival of Pr Hall, who knew more than me and he was supposed to be there two days later.  But the huge giant was screaming worse than the pregnant mother so I was forced to do the extraction, and I could see that he was between half and three quarters dead due to the pain.  Four times I tried to extract that tooth using as usual a pair of pliers but every time I pulled the tooth he was held my hand and stood up.  Finally I asked a member to press on his thigh and hold him down and another member to hold his head.  Then I was successful in extracting the tooth.  He was very thankful to me and 2 days later he was one of the candidates to be baptized in the river near that village.


Pastor Dick Hall arrived on Friday afternoon so we stayed overnight in that village to conduct the baptism on the Sabbath. The baptism went smoothly although the water in the river was so cold I felt chilled to my marrow.  The current in the river was strong, so we did not dare to go too far into the stream, but stayed where the water was just above knee deep.   The most important thing was that it was deep enough to immerse the candidates.  We baptized the ladies and the smaller candidates first and finally this giant of a Dyak.  He was apparently very nervous and traumatized with the experience of the tooth extraction.  Twice I tried to immerse him but he was very rigid and I could not.  So I performed a little judo trick which I learned when I was younger and forced him into the water.  But he was terrified, not expecting me to do that and suddenly his arms reached around my neck and the result was that both of us went under.  It was hilarious that the baptizer was now being baptized by the candidate.  We struggled out and everyone including Pr Hall was laughing. 


One thing I should mention is that I was very impressed with the simplicity and faithfulness of these members in the isolated Dyak villages.  Most of these places had very little visitation from our ministers but they had child like faith.   Although they did not have the pastors, they faithfully and regularly came to the church, some of which had no walls.  They had their Sabbath School lessons where one of them would read and the other would read from the Bible, with some songs.  For those who could read, they would read the Bible texts and for those who were illiterate, they were given a chance to memorise the text.  Then they would have questions and answers, sometimes quizzes based on the Bible stories they had discussed.  We did not use the regular adult lesson, but used the junior or primary lessons.  They usually brought their lunch box and ate together and afterwards continued into the afternoon with discussions, story telling and singing, some Bible games and usually ending at sundown worship.  After that they went home.  If there was a guest from the city, it became a very special day for them and the program could continue almost to midnight.  It reminded me of the experience of the apostle Paul in Troas.  I am sure that in heaven many of these simple and primitive Dyaks will be saved.


Another thing that impressed me was their total trust that as a minister I could do anything, to perform miracles.  One night around 2 am a group of people from a village about 10 km away came to the longhouse where I was staying, holding an evangelistic effort.  They were led by one of our members, the only one in that village longhouse.  They woke me up and told me that there was a black bird that they believed to be a bad omen and the bird had flown through their long house.  In their past experience, things like this were always followed with calamities, sickness or death.  That bird has a very strange high pitched call, like the koel and they were frightened and they asked me to conduct a special prayer meeting at about 4 in the morning.   Their fear forced them to ask this member to call for his minister.   That morning we conducted a prayer meeting and sang several songs and almost all the people from that longhouse came to the meeting, from small children to old people.  They all had a frightened look on their faces.  I asked them what really was happening, speaking in Ibun.    They told me that several months earlier the same thing happened and at that time there was no available SDA pastor but they happened to tune in to Radio Malaysia Sarawak and heard a program by the SDA church conducted by Pr Elam Sinaga and myself, with our Voice of Prophecy quartet.  That program was broadcast once a week and so they heard Pr Sinaga at that time and I was the announcer in Ibunese. While they were frightened at the bird flying through the long house they heard the sermon and songs and my voice as the announcer and they felt there was sudden peace in their minds and nothing happened to the village.  When they heard that Pr Sammy Lee was holding meetings in the next village, they decided to come to get me to hold a meeting in their longhouse.  So we held a prayer meeting during the night in the centre of the jungle of Borneo, singing several songs from their hymnal and reading several passages from Scripture.  After I finished with the prayer meeting they requested that I stay the whole day and teach them from the Bible.  These studies lasted almost until it was time to conduct the meeting in the other village.  I am very pleased to say that later we had a church in that longhouse and our membership continues to increase.


Chapter 8 Cementing Friendship with the Sarawak Minister of the Interior

One of the most impressive villages that I visited during my service in Malaysia was called Kapayang.  This village was so far from civilization that we had to fly on the mission plane, which the Dyak called “bilon”.  It took a 40 minute flight, then we used an outboard motor boat for one and a half hours until the water was too shallow to proceed then we had to use “bus number 11” for about 6 hours


We walked through thick jungle with the very tall trees of a tropical rainforest.   A lot of them had thorns over the trunk and were very dangerous if touched.  The people did not tell us that it would take 6 hours to reach the village.  After walking for only a few minutes I asked those fellows who were carrying my baggage how far the village was from the end of our river journey.  They replied that it was about half an hour.  I was very happy to hear them but after about one hour, and we still could not see any sign of a village, I was slowing down but those fellows kept on at the same pace.  So I asked them again, “How far is it from here now?”  They replied that it was only twenty minutes.  I started to get drenched with my sweat and all my muscles were stiff and aching, starting from my upper thigh to the tip of my toes.  After 2 and a half hours’ walking I asked the third time, “Why is it so far?”   They replied “Twenty minutes more” so I stopped asking because I knew they would continue to answer that it was just 20 minutes away.


I was not sure whether they did not know how to measure the time, or whether it was a conspiracy to cheat us city dwellers, so that we would continue along the path.  Otherwise we might chicken out and give up.


There was no use in returning as the boat was not there, so I just had to accept my fate.  Besides, if I decided to return, no one would want to accompany me and I would have to do it alone.  We continued our journey with several forced stops which annoyed them.  Then when the sun was almost approaching the horizon , and I am not sure whether they were serious or just trying to scare me, but they said that it was now durian season, so it was better to reach the village as soon as possible. We might meet some Datuk or orang tua (old man) which was their way of referring to tigers.  They were afraid to mention the real name of the animal.  I felt like giving them a big piece of my mind because they had cheated me like that and I felt as if my legs would collapse any minute. Sure enough when we finally arrived at the end of that torturing I really did collapse and two of them had to carry me up the stairs which were made of a coconut trunk.  It was impossible to scale and it was very steep like a wall.  I fainted, as I did not know what was happening, and went to sleep with my shoes on, for the rest of the night.


In the jungle the sun goes down very early and it becomes pitch black very quickly.  Besides, they are so far from the city that there are no shops or electrical facilities.  I am not sure whether there is any change to their situation even now.  But if you are a lover of durian, as I am, free of charge, and you can eat until your stomach feels as hard as a trailer tyre, that is the place.


That night passed quickly without any mishaps except that I could hear some of the girls giggling as they listened to the stories of the people who had carried my stuff.  I could guess that they were talking about me and how their brothers or husbands had the joy of leading me on and how I really collapsed and had to be carried like a hundred kilo bag of rice.  That story seems to have been repeated several times as more of the villagers returned from their hunting or collecting food.   We could guess that most of the stuff they brought back was durian, because the smell pierces the deepest part of your nostrils, down to your lungs.  This is not a make-believe story, but every family in that village had a pile of durians six feet high, which they had collected during the day.   Every chamber that we visited, they would serve us with nothing but durian but I tell you that they are the best durian which I have ever seen.  They chose the best of the best, putting the rest aside, to be turned into a kind of paste mixed with salt, which was stored in large earthen jars, and which would then last until the next durian season.  Every family would persuade me to eat as much as possible and they all said that they had collected the best.


I will go back to when I collapsed as I reached the long house and they put me gently on the front porch of the village chief’s apartment, where I would be sleeping for the next fortnight.  The verandah of the long house was quite dark because they only used either kerosene lamps or coconut oil lamps.  So I could not see what was on the blackened ceiling above my head, along one side of the longhouse.  But next morning as the sun’s rays started to creep through the slats and slowly illuminated the verandah, I noticed something that looked like a bunch of smoked coconuts hanging above my head.   As it became brighter, I noticed that every one of those coconuts had two big holes and a smaller one in the centre and two rows of brown coloured objects.  When I realized what those things were, I almost shouted out in fright.  Those coconuts were not nuts at all but human skulls, which had been taken from their enemies in the past when they were still allowed to make wars with other tribes and to hunt their heads.  Thus the name Borneo head hunters and they used the prizes as decoration and proof of their prowess.  It was lucky that I found this out the next morning otherwise I would not have been able to sleep that night.


The following day as my strength returned I started to visit from chamber to chamber, first those who had become our church members.  But others seemed to be expecting the honour of a visit from such a rare guest.  They were all very friendly and tried to outdo each other in showing their hospitality.  They served either fresh durian or durian cake which they had prepared for such an occasion.   The previous night I was made aware of the terrible smell but since I was so tired it did not interrupt my sleep. 

Together with the 3 young people who accompanied me to conduct meetings in that village, we consumed the most durian I have ever had in my life.  We were hallucinating, like drunks, feeling like we were floating in the air.  And the heat was so great that we were forced to go the nearby stream to soak ourselves for about an hour before we felt ourselves again.

After conducting the meetings every night for almost 2 weeks we were approaching the last evenings, Saturday and Sunday evenings, when we had a little interruption.  The Minister of Interior Affairs for the State of Sarawak apparently made a visit to the village next to ours which was about one hour’s journey away.   The entourage of the minister brought a big generator with the capacity of 2000 watts output, in comparison to our tiny Honda generator which could only give us 300 watts of electricity.  I do not know why, but their generator was just useless, it would not function.  I was sure this was not coincidental, I knew that the hand of the Lord was in it.  The Minister heard from the villagers that there was a small group of Adventists from Kuching conducting some sort of meetings in the next village, using an electric generator too, although much smaller than theirs.  So he sent some people from the village to meet us, with a request to borrow our generator just for that night, and at the same time to invite the villagers where I was staying to come and join the meeting in the other village.  Of course I agreed and decided to cancel our meeting that night and with the rest of the people we went to the other village.  I was invited by the minister to come and meet him in the house of the village chief, where he was spending the night.


The minister Abang Ikhwan Zaini was an elderly gentleman around 60 years old.  He was surprised to know that I came from Indonesia, was of Chinese descent but very fluent in speaking Malay.  He asked me what I was doing in the village, right out there in the jungle.  I told him that my duty was to teach the local people to read and write, to teach their children songs and stories that built up their characters and prepared them to become good citizens of Malaysia.  The minister was very impressed and had never heard much about us.  To them all the Christians were much the same, the only difference being in the name.  We were known by our initials as SDAs.  The minister said that he noticed while passing several villages in his past travels, there were several known as SDA villages and that they were different from the villages of other denominations.  Usually after they became SDA, they separated themselves and built detached houses instead of staying in the long house and usually these groups of houses looked very neat with fences around them and their vegetable gardens.  So I was able to explain to him that our beliefs are a little different from other denominations because we believe in the duty of taking care of our bodies as we believe it is the temple of the Spirit of God.


And I told the minister that we are closer to the Muslim way of life.  The minister smiled and asked me what I knew about the Muslim religion.  I replied, “I know quite a bit, your Honour.”  I surprised him by reciting a few verses from the Koran in Arabic.  I had had the privilege of studying how to work among Muslims, from a former Haji, who had been a devout Muslim, called Pastor Rifai Burhanuddin.  This was taught to the theological students in lieu of Hebrew and Greek, which according to our leaders in Indonesia, were not as important, considering that over 90% of the population of the country is Muslim.


The minister was very impressed when I continued telling him that whereas to the Muslims smoking and alcohol are Makruh, which means it is not good to consume but there is no punishment for taking them, but to us it is Haram, or forbidden and considered just the same as eating pork and other unclean animals.   Another thing is that we do not believe that Mary is divine nor can she be literally called The Mother of God.   We believe, the same as it is written in the Koran, that she was only an instrument to take care of the Incarnation of the Spirit and Word of God, which the Muslim call Rohullah.  I quoted several verses from the Koran about Jesus, that He is considered the greatest in this world and in the life hereafter, and in the Hadith it is predicted that He will be coming back again as the Righteous Judge or Haqama Muqsita.   There are verses in the Koran which mention a group of humble Christians who follow the teaching of the Bible faithfully, just like the Muslims, and they accept what was revealed to Mohammed as well as to themselves.  And then I showed him how the Koran mentioned that they are not called real Muslims until they accept what was revealed in the Torah, the Injil and the Koran.  In other words, the Koran said that the two books of the Bible, the Old and New Testament, have equal standing and were inspired by the same God.


The minister was so interested that he gave me his card and said that if I had time, he would like to see me in his office in Kuching, and remarked that if I had any problem, I was welcome to see him in his office, anytime.  It so happened that the Mission had tried to get a working permit for Lynn to teach Malay and Mandarin at SunnyHills school, but had been refused by the Department of Immigration.  So I told the minister of that problem and he replied that the Department of Immigration was under his supervision and advised me to send another application with a carbon copy addressed to him.  Sure enough, one week later we received a letter from the Immigration Office asking us to come to the Department with Lynn’s passport and she was given a work permit to teach the Malay and Mandarin languages at the school without any problem until the end of my term of service in 1970.  God has been so good to us and wonderfully worked His will.


From that time we visited the Minister and his family in his private residence and my wife and children became very close to his family.  His children and grandchildren were very pleased to have my two children come to play with their children of the same age.    They attended the Malay school because they were not so fluent in their English.  Victor was especially gifted in speaking since he was very small and could tell stories very well.  They were very impressed at his ability to tell Bible stories about characters such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, which were quite similar to the narrations in the Koran, and also the stories of Jesus and His miracles.  For the last 2 years of our stay we usually visited him at least once a month and they were so friendly and hospitable to us. At the end of my term before I left Sarawak permanently, the family of the minister and deputy chief minister of Sarawak Mr Simon Maja, had a special farewell party for us at the Odeon Hotel, which was the only first class hotel in Sarawak in 1970.    We do not know what will happen as the result of our contact but we tried our best to witness about God and our faith and we would not be surprised but be very happy to meet them one day in the Kingdom.


Chapter 9   A Converted Ibun Witchdoctor


Chief Ngian was sitting cross legged on the bamboo mat in front of his apartment in the long house.  His naked torso was decorated with blue coloured tattoos which made him look like a statue.  When he saw me approaching, he made a sudden movement with outstretched hands indicating his joy in seeing me.  He was smiling from ear to low hanging ear.   His ears had large long holes in the lobes, which made them look like giant needles made of flesh.   His face had a lot of wrinkles, but the flesh on his countenance still showed firm muscles although his cheeks were sunken.  I guessed his age was around 60, but I found out that he was nearing 80 at that time.   He could still remember what had happened when he was 5 years old, 75 years earlier.  This means that in his youth he had experienced 25 years of the time in the past history of the Dyak tribes when they still had inter tribal wars.  This practice had been prohibited by the British Government 50 years previously, in about 1917 when it became illegal to go head hunting.  You can be sure that I was very thankful that I lived long after that horrible period.


Chief Ngian smiled very sweetly showing his sparse teeth which were now dark brown in colour.   This was because, in the past, the teeth had always been soaked in betel nut juice as was the custom of the Dyak people during those days.   Several months before I had come to his village, in Tatau, to attend workers meetings for our ministers who lived around that area, and to conduct a wedding, a baptism and a  short camp meeting.


At that time several ministers were also brought by the Cessna208 by Pastor Dick Hall our mission president.  I have told a little about the mission aircraft in previous chapters, but I have not told you how terrifying it sometimes was, flying in that aircraft which looked like a giant metal dragon fly.  Actually while it was still on land and stationary it was quite comfortable, just like sitting in a limousine but a little more cramped.  The seating was in 3 rows of 2 seats each, so it could carry 5 passengers besides the pilot.  But as soon as the aeroplane moved, as it taxied on the grass airstrip which was far from smooth, you could really feel yourself shaken and swayed from side to side and you realized that you were in a winged jalopy of a wagon.   I called it a jalopy because you felt really like being in an ox cart, rolling on big boulders, and you could feel all the bumps on the road and hear the rumbling of its wheels.   It was quite a miracle to think how that thing could be airborne before it was crumpled by the bumps.     There was also the worry of thinking of the limited the length of the landing strips.  I could not imagine what could have happened if the single engine suddenly conked out or the wind changed direction.  We would have been smashed to pieces amongst the rubber trees at the end of the landing strip.  But that was not too miserable compared to the feeling of our bellies as if the whole contents were coming out in a rush as it got airborne and turned sharply to the left or to the right trying to avoid hills or the tall trees in front.


Worst of all was the feeling of fear if we had to land at Air Manis School, an SDA academy which was about 50 miles north east of Kuching.  This school landing strip was actually just a little longer than an ordinary soccer field, which functioned as an aerodrome as well.   Every time they heard the radio call from Dick Hall, which was received by the principal Mr Cliff Ortner, which sounded something like “Messenger Two requesting clearance for landing.  Messenger Two requesting clearance for landing.  Do you read me?”  After a few minutes we would hear the reply from Mr Ortner, “Roger, Roger, Messenger Two, Airstrip cleared for landing.”


At that time the Cessna would be about 5 km from the Serian Rd in front of the school, at an altitude of 200 metres.  The pilot would suddenly turn off the engine and we would be gliding down like an eagle slowly and by slowly we mean about 60 km per hour.  That meant that if something went wrong, and the plane had to land on its belly, we would be broken to pieces and black and blue inside the plane, as soon as we arrived on the ground.  So while the aircraft was approaching the soccer field we could see the cars on the road as if they were waiting to hit us.  And several minutes later we would be hitting the ground of the crude landing strip which was located right beside the road.   The wheels of the plane soon hit the hard ground and we felt the jolt which caused our adrenaline to be squirted throughout all our body and our hearts to beat very fast and our eyes were seeing stars like glow worms and our breath would be rushed and short.  Usually poor Pr Elim Sinaga, the most ancient minister of our mission, would close his eyes, his countenance turned pale and his lips moving in silent prayer asking God to save us and probably confessing his sins.


If we did not survive we would have met the angel of death aboard the aircraft which ironically was named Messenger 2 in English on the pilot’s side, but on the other side the writing in Malay Malaikat 2 which means The Second Angel.  Sometimes I jokingly said that if something happened I was sure I would have been saved because I was sitting next to the second angel, on the right hand side of the plane.  As a matter of fact the old Cessna 206 which was involved in a crash landing and turned turtle was called Angel or Messenger, and was dented where it was written Messenger in English, not over the Malay writing meaning Angel.  Luckily Pr Hall was not hurt at all that time.  It had to be replaced by the present Cessna 208.  After rolling along the soccer field which sloped upwards towards the end the plane stopped just a few metres from the classrooms of Air Manis School. Once in the past during the wet season the ground was so slippery that Pastor Hall was not able to stop the plane quickly enough and it slid into the class room.  Luckily it was empty and he was alone in the plane and none of the students became mince meat, blended by the propellor. And I was not with him on that occasion so I was spared the inconvenience of having a coronary heart attack.


Anyway that is a little of our special experience as missionaries during those days and praise the Lord, I had never experienced any mishaps during my flights aboard that ‘metal dragon fly’ in which I flew countless times, during the 4 years of service there.   Pastor Dick Hall had experienced the accident I mentioned because the landing gear was stuck in the mud and the aeroplane was flipped over with its wheels pointing to the sky.  Luckily he was all right, only experiencing a big shock and a lot of inconvenience because he could not use the plane for several months until it was replaced by the new plane, a donation from The Quiet Hour Echo.


Now we return to our friend Chief Ngian.  He told us how, when he was still young, he sometimes joined an attack on a village of their enemies.  For the attack they were divided into two groups, one would slip under cover of darkness to the long house which was to be attacked, the other would wait on a hill at a distance from the village.    And after the attackers were able to kill their victims and take the heads as prizes, they usually escaped in the opposite direction from where the other group was waiting,.   When the watching group heard the screams of the victims, they would light their torches up on the slopes, lifting painted coconuts that looked like the heads of victims, while the actual attackers escaped.  At that time it was impossible to chase them.


Chief Ngian also told us of his experience as a witch doctor and he testified that he did some miracles with the help of evil spirits in healing the sick.  But he also admitted that often he could not perform the miracles, and he failed to heal the sick.  At that time they usually deceived the people by producing small articles like hair or thorns or needles which they had hidden in their hands, and claimed this was a charm from the enemy of the sick person.  After doing some chanting they said that they could not do anything because the evil spirit of the enemy was stronger.  In that case the relatives of the sick person could do nothing but accept their fate, and they became more frightened of the evil spirit.  This is a brief description of witchcraft among the Dyak people, who still adhere to this animism.  They were always controlled by fear but praise the Lord, many of them were converted and later became Christians.  During the 4 years of my ministry I witnessed several hundred of them baptized into our church and being relieved from this power of darkness.

Chief Ngian attended one of our meetings, at first he was very antagonistic and pessimistic about the power of a Person called Jesus Who lived 2000 years ago.  But one day he suffered a terrible stomach ache which he could not cure, nor could others who claimed to have the same power.  He went to one of our local ministers asking for medicine and apparently was healed by the medicine.  After listening to several Bible lessons about the power of God, he was convinced by the Holy Spirit and asked for baptism.


Another impressive testimony was given by Chief Rayong, of the long house in Tatau..   Chief Rayong was taken by Pastor Dick Hall to attend the General Conference in 1968.  On his return to Sarawak, he told his people that what the Adventist ministers said about heaven was not make believe at all and that they should accept Jesus so that they could also go to heaven.  “It is too stupid for us if we are satisfied living only in this world,” he said, “we are just like living in a small coconut shell and very miserably, too.  We live in this shabby house, very dirty, and have nothing.  Over there in the USA they live in mansions that are so luxurious.  Even if I tried my best to describe it to you, you would not be able to imagine it.  The most amazing thing to me is how they could make those skyscrapers consisting of so many storeys, to stand up so tall above the coconut trees height, without being blown by the strong winds and crumbling down.”


Then he told them that in America when you wanted to eat some food, you could approach a machine, put in some coins through the slot, press a button, and out would come a container of food of your choice.  And he said that it tasted just out of this world.  He described how the cars on the streets in the States were just like ants in the jungle, and sped on the very wide straight and smooth highways.  And then he described how in Los Angeles international airport, the aeroplanes were far bigger than the long houses and made the aeroplane of Pastor Hall look like a little toy.  There were hundreds of them flying up in the sky and he never saw them colliding with each other.  The most impressive thing for him was how the glass doors could know that some one was approaching and without having to touch the door it swung open when you came near it.  And then he said that if in this world, people can do such wonderful things, how much more can the God of heaven, who created human beings, must be more able to prepare more wonderful things than those.  He closed with an appeal    “If even the Americans who live in such luxurious conditions still desire to go to heaven, we who are living in this miserable and poor condition, who have nothing at all compared to them, should have a greater ambition to try to be there”.


I have to add that these Dyaks, even though they do not have a lot of household goods,   live a far more peaceful and better life I should say many have in modern countries.  Their houses have no locks and they can walk freely in the middle of the jungle without fear of being robbed or murdered.  That is one of the situations that we will enjoy in heaven, more than we could experience in Sarawak or anywhere in the world.  There will be incomparable glory and happiness, without sickness, crime, sin, tears, separation and death, forever.  No wonder Jesus said that if we can possess the whole world but we are not later saved in heaven, it will become to us a great loss.  But on the other hand if we can be in heaven forever, whatever we get in this world is only like a small bonus and failure to gain heaven would indeed be a very great loss.  The suffering and hardship that we are experiencing in the world today as we try to gain salvation, even with the loss of our lives for our faith, is very small price to pay.


Chapter 10 Differences and Similarities

The headquarters for the South East Asian Union Mission are located in Singapore and to attend meetings we sometimes flew in our own aeroplane.  This saved quite a lot because we could snuggle in all six of us to attend the meetings and workers’ retreat at the Union.  It made us proud to be able to answer, when people asked how we had travelled, ‘We came in our own aeroplane.”


Once the meetings were held at Port Dixon, located near Malacca, and we had to take a taxi there from Singapore.  In those days taxis were allowed to carry 6 people, the driver and 5 passengers, 3 in the front and 3 in the back.   There were no seat belts at that time.   The driver of our taxi was Malay, and he was very happy to know that I could speak his language.  He asked what our business was, and I told him that we were all ministers of the SDA church.  I told him that we had come from Sarawak on our own plane, and that the gentleman sitting beside me was our pilot, Pastor Hall.   I do not know whether it was because he heard that his passenger was a pilot or it was the usual manner of Singapore taxis to drive so fast, but he drove uncomfortably above the speed limit.  And I could see that all the ministers including Pastor Hall were a little worried.  He was a bit pale and was hanging onto the strap for dear life.  I was also a little bit worried seeing the way of driving but I comforted myself by thinking that if anything happened we would not feel any pain at all, at that speed.   The driver asked me what kind of car I drove.  I said I drove a VW beetle


The Malaysians have different vocabulary to the Indonesian and I remember one day I was stopped by a traffic policeman in Kuching for making a U turn where it was forbidden by a sign.  In Indonesian to turn around is belok, while in Malaysian, it is pusing, which in Indonesian means headache.  So the policeman told me I was not allowed to pusing here, and I thought, How can you prohibit people from having a headache?.   Later I found out that they used the word pusing for making a U turn. 


One day we were having a meeting with all the teachers in Malaysia and a friendly Malaysian language teacher, knowing that I came from Indonesia, greeted me with “Apa Khabar” which is the equivalent of How are you.    When I replied with “Kabar baik”, he corrected me by saying “You should reply, Kabar elok, because if you say baik, that means you are not sick”. I was a little irritated by this smart aleck although I kept quiet.   When he saw my wife and asked in Malay “Oh, ini bini kita, kah?  which in Indonesian would mean “Is this our woman?”  I replied “No this is not our woman, but she is my wife”. We both laughed.


Another diffence, a retired  service man in Indonesia is called Veteran, but in Malay it is called Askar-askar yang tidak berguna.  In Indonesian this would mean useless soldiers who would fall flat on the ground if fired upon.


I continued the conversation with the Malaysian driver, as he asked me what my religion was.  I told him that we were Christians but we that had a lot of similarities with the Muslim religion.  He was incredulous and laughed saying that it was impossible.  “Just the name of the Gods are different from Islam to Christianity.  Besides you Christians have 3 Gods and we have only one”.  So I told him that was not true.  “Both the Bible and the Koran say the same thing, that there is only one God. Your text which says La ilaha ilallah  means there is no other God except Allah and “qul huallahu ahad allahu somad lam yalid wa lam yulad, wa lam yakul lahu kufuan ahad”  means, ‘Say that Allah is one, He is not born and He does not give birth to a son’.”


The driver looked at me with eyes agog because he could not believe that a Chinese Christian could recite the Koran texts.  He did not know that I was trained by a former Muslim imam when I was taking theological training in Indonesia.   And I told him how we, as SDAs, actually practised a lot which is written in the Koran.  In short during the four hour drive he was listening to my sermons which I usually covered in 3 or 4 nights.  That changed his way of driving because he was interested in listening to my stories.    I was sure that if something happened to us, I would be saved because I was doing God’s work in preaching the gospel.    Pastor Hall and the rest just looked on in admiration or perhaps a bit bored but they preferred to leave it that way.


The driver wanted to know in what other ways we are the same.  I told him that to them, smoking is Makruh meaning it is not good but if you do it, you are not going to be punished and if you discard it you are not going to get a reward for so doing.  I told him that on the contrary, to us it is prohibited and is just as bad as eating unclean food Actually it should be considered more sinful because if you eat unclean food you are harming only yourself, but when you are smoking you are forcing other people to inhale dangerous fumes that can cause cancer and death.   The same with alcoholic drinks, if you are drunk while driving you can cause death to yourself as well as to other innocent people.  As far as food is concerned besides pork, dog and rats, we are more strict in categorizing many more animals that are considered unclean.  He seemed curious to know more and asked me if I believed that Mohammed was a prophet of God.  I told him “Yes, I believe Mohammed was a prophet of God because the Koran says that he is a messenger of God” and I praised them for being so faithful in proclaiming to the world 5 times a day that there is no other God but Allah.  So he was very pleased to hear that.


This is the way to approach our Muslim friends, as I was taught by my Arabic teacher Pastor Burhanuddin.   After they have heard about our agreement that Mohammed is a prophet we usually quote where the seventh-day Sabbath is mentioned in the Koran, that God created the world in six days and that He has made the seventh-day Sabbath as a great day.  Whoever transgresses the law of the Sabbath will become the lowest of monkeys, which of course can be interpreted that those who do not want to accept God as the Creator, practically consider themselves as descendents of monkeys according to the theory of evolution.


I quoted also a text from the Hadith that says that Jesus the Son of Mary will be coming as the Righteous Judge.  I drew his attention to the fact that every time they pray, they ask God to give peace to Mohammed while Jesus said that He came to the world to bring peace and joy to us.  Then I drew his attention to a text which says that Jesus Christ the Son of Mary is greatest both in this life and in the life to come and that He is the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  Then I told him that we do not believe that He has a mother as the Catholics believe Mary to be the Mother of God; she was just His earthly mother.   We believe that God is only one,  that He is eternal, and the term Father and Son is only showing the close relationship and the Oneness of the Godhead.  And I told him that actually if we followed the Bible there would not be any war because the Bible told us not to kill and that it was Satan which they call Dajjal who is the father of lies and murder, and who incites all these wars and destruction.  At the end of our journey he shook my hand very cordially and he seemed very thankful for the lesson that I had given him. I am sure that the Holy Spirit touched his heart, although I do not know what happened to him, I hope that the seed of truth was planted in his heart and will grow under the influence of the Spirit of God.


Port Dixon is a resort area, very popular with tourists from Malaysia as well as overseas.  We stayed for five days in that resort, which belonged to the Baptist Mission.  Every afternoon we had recreation time, playing volleyball and swimming at the beach.  One of the people whom I met who impressed me was the son of old Pastor Munson, a pioneer missionary to North Sulawesi and Sumatra.  I admired him because he could still recite Manadonese love songs and at the farewell evening we sang a duet, representing Indonesia.


Another unforgettable event back in Sarawak, occurred one day as I drove toward Air Manis school in Serian.   We had to travel over a very windy road, where the sides gave way to deep ravines. At one very sharp bend the left rear door where Victor was sitting was suddenly opened and I heard him scream, “DADDEEE” and felt the cool wind entering the car.  But at the next instant I heard the door slammed back closed.  When we reached a safe place I stopped the car and asked him what had happened. My son said that he was resting his hand on the door handle when it suddenly swung open and he was pulled out, but it suddenly swung back as if somebody was pushing it from outside.  This was actually impossible because the bend was quite long and he should have been thrown out.  Our two kids said that when the door was open they could hear angels singing.  I asked Victor what song the angels were singing.  He replied that it was a new song which he had never heard before.  This convinced me that my son was telling the truth and not just imagining what had happened.  Otherwise he would have answered by naming a song that he knew and used to sing, something like “All day, all night, angels watching over me”.  But by answering that they did not know the song, they convinced me that they were telling the truth.  We prayed and thanked the Lord for His protection and sending His angels to avoid a tragedy.  I felt this was a good time to emphasize to the kids how true the promise of God in Psalm 34:7  that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him to deliver them, but of course we should not take it as a generalization that the Lord will always save us from death.   Sometimes in His mercy the Lord knows that death may be the best thing that could happen to us, so that we do not fall into temptation in the future and lose our souls. That is always why we end our prayers as did Jesus, Your will be done as You know what is best for us.


Chapter 11 Long Leave from Ministerial Duties

In 1970 I went back to Indonesia after serving for 4 years in the Sarawak mission.  There were a number of reasons for this decision.   I was thinking that my son who was at that time 6 years old had to enter school.   I had had health problems when I served in the isolated jungle, because of the contaminated water supply I had a severe bout of typhoid and was hospitalized for 2 weeks at the local public hospital.  When I returned home I looked like skin and bones.   Besides that, my wife’s mother had had a stroke so that my wife needed to take care of her, in addition to continuing managing her mother’s business in Manado.


My in-laws’ house in Manado where we lived was just across from the Union office and the Manado English Conversation school, run later by the Union.  My mother-in-law operated a cottage industry making a kind of biscuit that looked like a dollar coin, so the Manadonese called it Dollar Cookie.    It was yellowish brown in colour and round like a real gold coin.  Some called it also the Silver Cookie because it looked liked the Dutch coins of past days.  In that house my mother-in-law employed eight workers to take care of the household duties as well as manufacturing the cookies.   Quite often some relatives from Sangier Island who happened to visit Manado were also welcomed to have free lodging while in that city.


Besides the Dollar Cookies they also preserved nutmegs.  In Sangier my mother-in-law had a business dealing with trading ground products such as copra, cloves and nutmeg.    


When I returned from Malaysia at the end of 1970 the Mission in North Sulawesi for whatever reason did not accept me back to work for them.  I had a leave of absence or a long vacation without being officially terminated by the organization.  For 3 years I had to improvise doing furniture manufacturing from the local linggua wood, which is like red cedar.  I also operated an English language school which I named Minahasa English Institute while my wife continued the production of preserved nutmeg started by her mother. 


At that time I was also persuaded by a friend to start a foreign capital investment joint venture company, of which there were few in Minahasa at that time.  My friend had a partner in Singapore who had capital which he wanted to invest, and he asked if I had any connections in North Sulawesi province.  I told him that I was treated as a son by Mrs Tanod who was the sister-in-law of the incumbent governor, Major General Worang.  So one night I asked her if she could introduce me to her brother-in-law.   We went together to visit the governor’s house, and we talked things over with him and he suggested that I make a formal company with Mr Tompunu, the father of his second wife.  He suggested that we try to restore a project that had not got off the ground in the past. It belonged to the Indonesian Navy and was called the Bison Company.  The original plan was to make a coconut oil refinery in Bitung north of Manado but somehow it had not progressed and became bankrupt before commencing any business.


I did not have any capital but I managed to persuade a member of our church in Kuching to join with me as a silent partner.  He gave me capital and so I arranged with the father-in-law of the governor to start a trading company.   But apparently it was not the plan of God although I was given the green light and full support by the governor and the commander of the Army of North Sulawesi. But finally it failed completely and my wife and I had to work very hard to return the money which we had borrowed from our member in Sarawak.


I had to teach English from house to house, at the governor’s office, at the military commander’s headquarters and also at the public hospital in Manado teaching several doctors and dentists in that establishment.  My English students consisted of high ranking officers of the North Sulawesi governor, business people, doctors and their families.


Later when the East Indonesia Union decided to open the Manado English Conversation School just across from our house and did not feel like competing with me, they offered or persuaded me to return to work as a district pastor of Tondano, overseeing 21 churches in that area with the assistance of 2 ministerial interns.  Their stated reason was because, besides the Union president, I was the only one who owned a car.   My wife, who from the beginning did not like me to do business, persuaded me to accept that call and to return to work as a minister.  I accepted the call, and closed the English Language School and our other enterprises.   My wife and children stayed in Manado because of the business and their schooling, and I moved to Tondano and they only came at weekends to join me.  This lasted for one year, at the end of which I was transferred to another district which was about 80 km from Manado but because of the condition of the road it took about 3 hours to reach.  We had a feeling that the Mission people were trying to force my wife and children to join me and to live together in Amurang but their tactic failed.


While serving in Amurang district, I took an annual holiday and went to visit my wife and mother in law who were in Sangier Island.  At that time an official of the region of Sangier Talaud asked me to write a book for the tourist board, entitled Guide to Sangier Talaud, to promote tourist sites on the archipelago.  I felt that this was a good chance for me to be able to witness to the government officers of that Regency.   I accepted that request and for 3 months I travelled all around the archipelago, compiling and collecting data and photographs for the manuscript of the book.  The Regent, Colonel Tindas, had a very big ambition to make Sangier Talaud a big tourist attraction. He had private houses in Manado, Tagulandang, Siao, and Tahuna.  So he planned to start a hotel chain and a travel bureau which he thought of naming Karamando Tours Pty Ltd, which is an abbreviation of the mountains Karangetang and Awu, and Manado.  He suggested that I become the director to manage this proposed company because he thought that I had the experience, having been serving overseas and successfully operating the English Language School in Manado.  Again this seemed not to be God’s will because the plan was not carried out and he was transferred to another place and I decided to upgrade myself in Australia.


At that time I had left college for 13 years, serving in two different countries and I felt the need of recharging my batteries.  I enquired if there was a possibility of getting a scholarship from the mission to study overseas but they replied that they did not have the budget, so if I wanted to continue my studies I had to go at my own expense and they would not object to that.  I wrote to the former Far Eastern Division President Pastor Chris Sorensen who had been very close to me before, asking if there was a possibility of some one sponsoring me to the US to continue my study.   He was happy to be my sponsor and I asked him about the possibility of getting employment in the USA.  He said that I could always work at Loma Linda Health Food Company and my wife could baby sit for the staff or teach there.  When my wife heard that she said that she would rather do the work of a toilet cleaner than take care of other peoples’ babies, because it is too risky.  So my ambition seemed to be thwarted.


One day some of my friends decided to set up another business in the tourism industry and some even offered to join me operating an international school with English as the medium of instruction.  Another suggestion was given by Mr Tanod who had quite large property in Treman where I had held my evangelistic effort previously.  He wanted to donate a piece of land behind his house so I could build a church as well as my residence on that block of land, provided I would be permitted to stay permanently in Treman.  But that offer was rejected by the Mission administrators.  Another option was to live in Manado, start another business so that at the same time I could serve as a volunteer minister.  In that way I would be able to continue my calling and help other workers who wanted to upgrade themselves but could not do it due to the lack of budgets in the mission. Again that was not the will of God.


One day I met a nurse from the Indonesian Oil Company Hospital, Wiesye Kaunang, who visited us at Tondano.  She had been sent to study at the nursing school at Sydney Adventist Hospital. She told us about Wahroonga, that it was a nice area, clean and beautiful, and that there were a lot of Adventists around the hospital.  She also said that the primary school next to the hospital was one of the best in the organization.  She said that the membership of the Wahroonga church was over 1000, including a lot of professional people.  My wife and I were very interested and she suggested that I write a letter to the late Pastor Will Pascoe, the assistant General Conference treasurer at that time.  He wrote a letter to the treasure of the Australasian Division, Pastor Lance Butler, asking their assistance in our desire to continue our study in Australia.


Pastor Butler and his wife Mrs Peggy Butler were so helpful, beyond our expectations.  They would help us to secure employment at Sydney Adventist Hospital if we planned to study in Sydney.  Actually my original plan was to take a theological course at Avondale College but when we enquired about job vacancies on the campus, the reply was the same as at Loma Linda University, that the students of Avondale College were allowed to work at the Sanitarium Health Food factory but only one of a married couple was permitted to work there, the other had to find employment elsewhere.  Because we decided to send both our children to the church school, we thought we would not be able to pay the school fees and at the same time study at Avondale College.


So we decided to move to Sydney while I could take linguistics as my secondary interest.   I went to the overseas student supervisor at the Education Department and met the officer was in charge.  This officer was a lady with dual citizenship, British-Australian.    She told me that since I had come to Australia on a visa to study at Avondale College, if I changed my plans I had to return to my original country and re-apply from there. She was very strict and very unhelpful.  At that time I felt my situation was hopeless.  I felt frustrated, sad and depressed and walked slowly towards the lift.  I was waiting for the lift to take me down when I suddenly heard a whisper from a desk not far from the lift.  I turned around and saw an elderly gentleman smiling and beckoning me to approach him.  So I went over to him and he introduced himself as Dr Kevin Smith, an English Jew.   He said that the supervisor whom I had just met was very strict and not well liked even by her colleagues in the department.  She was to return permanently to England a few weeks later, and her position would be taken by Dr Smith, as supervisor of South East Asian students.  I offered a prayer to the Lord and said that I surrendered myself to His will.


Kevin Smith told me later that he was attracted when he overheard my mentioning Avondale College.  He used to visit Avondale College as an officer of the department and was interested in the work of our denomination.  He was formerly a very heavy chain smoker, like a steam locomotive, he used to smoke at least 3 packets of cigarettes a day.  But after attending a 5 day stop smoking plan at one of our Sydney churches, he stopped smoking and it was now more than 10 years since he had had a cigarette.  His life was now completely changed and much happier, and he decided to help me.


I told Dr Smith that this was not the first time an officer of the Australian government had helped me.  While I was still in Indonesia trying to find out about the possibility of studying in Australia, I was referred to the vice consul in charge of visas at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Rodney Perry, by the nurse Wiesye Kaunang.   Rodney was actually the brother of one of our members and he studied in an SDA school when he was young.  So I wrote to him about my intention to study in Australia.  I wrote that letter in November 1974.  I did not hear any news until the following April when I received a letter from him.  He was coming to Manado on April 10 to give English tests to 35 candidates who had applied for Columbo Plan scholarships to study in Commonwealth countries including Australia.  He was going to conduct the test at the English Department of Sam Ratulangi University.  He said that if I planned to come to Australia I could join them and take the English test.  If I passed he could process my visa.  I passed the test with flying colours.  He was very impressed and told me that he was returning permanently in June, so he suggested I come to Jakarta as soon as possible before he ended his term of duty.   Judging from the answers to my test he said I did not have to wait for the results from the test, which had to go to Canberra and usually took 6 weeks.


God was really very good.  I was given a visa for four years, which was extraordinary as the usual procedure was to give a visa for one year which then had to be renewed annually.   Dr Smith was surprised and said that I must have a special blessing from God.  He told me not to worry, but to go home and to come back in one month.


Chapter 12 God’s Guiding Hand in the Land of the Kangaroo

I have to go back a little to tell of my experience when I arrived alone in Australia.  My wife demanded that I had to find a job first, and then a house for us to live in,  before she and the two kids would come.


On August 2 1975 I left Jakarta at 8 in the evening.  At midnight our plane landed in Darwin on our way to Sydney.  We were told to wait in the transit lounge.   When I came out of the plane I was surprised to find that Australia was very, very hot that night.   According to the information the temperature was 36, which was beyond what I had experienced in Jakarta.  Darwin had been hit by Cyclone Tracey eight months previously and apparently the plane had to drop off some provisions from Jakarta for the people in Darwin.   It was just unbelievable, I had been thinking that Sydney and Australia were having their winter at that time.  I could not imagine how it would feel during the day time and somebody told us that the previous day the temperature had been in the mid-forties.  It was mind boggling to me.


But when I arrived in Sydney the following morning, I felt the cold reaching the farthest corners of my bones and marrow.  I was given a room at the Mission Hostel across from Sydney Adventist Hospital.  The room was quite comfortable and it looked like any other self contained 3 star hotel room and to my delight it was complete with a small kitchen, and sufficient dining facilities for four people.  The most important thing was that I saw a small heater on the floor and there were also electric blankets on the beds.


That first night in Sydney I imagined I was stranded at the South Pole.  I wore four layers of clothing including a sweater, and then a woolen suit on the outside.  I had the heater going in the room for the whole night and with the electric blanket also on, with thick bed clothes,  I was still shivering and was afraid I was going to turn into a block of ice.  The following morning as I turned on the TV I found that was the coldest morning in fifty years in Sydney.  Just my luck, I thought, although there was no body beside me to listen to my complaint.  “Is this how Sydney welcomes me?”  I grumbled in my heart.  I only left the room for a few minutes to buy some food and drink so that I would not starve as well as freeze.  I do not think you can imagine how I felt, since I had been raised and lived in cities whose temperature averaged 32-33 degrees all year.  Now I had to feel the drastic difference of the temperature dropping to one degree.  I felt like I was enclosed inside the freezer compartment of the refrigerator.  That condition lasted for one week, before my body started to get adjusted to the extreme weather.


I reported to the Sydney Adventist Hospital and was given the job as a cleaner in the Housekeeping Department, supervised by Mrs Shirley Cowell., a very nice lady.  My duty was to clean three floors of the hospital building.  There were about 300 patients and around 500 staff working in that impressive hospital.  It did not look like a hospital to me, but like the lobby of a first class hotel.  This lasted for three months until I faced the problem at the Department of Education Office as I related before. 


The Lord was really wonderful.  When I was really down and felt helpless and hopeless, He led me to meet Dr Kevin Smith who was a close friend of Professor Arthur Delbridge who was the Dean of the School of English and Linguistics at Macquarie University, and also the compiler of the Macquarie Dictionary.  I was given a note from Kevin Smith, asking for his help in enrolling me in his department to study English and Linguistics.  Later I found a granny flat in the garden of a big house, just a stone’s throw away from Sydney Adventist Hospital.  I gladly signed a contract and lived there very comfortably with my wife and 2 children who attended Wahroonga Primary School.


My wife Lynn worked in CSSD at the San, where she had to sterilize the surgical equipment and supply the hospital wards with the needed items.   She also used her spare time to sell encyclopaedias, cosmetics and other items to the nurses of the hospital and even had time to make fried spring rolls to be sold at the nurses’ residence and the snack bar of SAH.   I worked very early in the morning and then left before 9 am for my classes at the university which was only about ten kilometres from the hospital.  I was given a car, an ancient Wolsey, by a member of the Wahroonga Church.


We attended the Wahroonga SDA church which is located next to the SAH.  On the left of the church and across the street are the housing for the San doctors and not far from there, is the Australasian (Now South Pacific) Division Office.   Just as was reported by Wiesye Kaunang, Wahroonga was a very elite suburb.  The houses in the area were large and owned by rich people.  There is advantage in attending a big church like Wahroonga but there are also disadvantages.  The program was very good, the sermons were given by choice preachers but the disadvantage was that there were so many members that we did not know each other after attending for one year.


Finally we decided to move to the Strathfield Chinese SDA church which was located about fifteen kilometres from our house, where we felt well accepted by the friendly congregation.  We became acquainted and felt part of the family very soon.  In the second year of my stay I was nominated by the church to become the Lay Activities Department Leader of the church.


Not long after that there was a Lay Activities Congress held at the Wahroonga church for the Australasian Division.  I was sent as a delegate by the Chinese church to attend the three days of the meetings. One day I heard a testimony given by a member who had a small mixed business in Murwillumbah, in northern New South Wales.   He said that he put a small bookshelf in front of his shop, where he put some pamphlets and small books, as his outreach project.  One day a hippy came to the shop, and when he saw the books on the shelf, one of which was entitled The Desire of Ages, he was interested and saw the sign, Free, Take One.  He picked up the book and asked the proprietor Brother Small, if it was really free.   Brother Small confirmed that the book was free, that he was welcome to take it and share it with other people if he felt like it.  A few years later as a result of reading that book and sharing it with his friends, there were twenty five hippies who were baptized in Murwillumbah, and according to Brother Small the number kept on increasing.


When I heard that story, I was very moved and wished that I could have the same opportunity to share my faith with other people.  At that time, my wife was in Jakarta because it was during school holidays and she wanted to visit her family there.  I offered a silent asking the Lord to touch the heart of her relatives where she was staying in Jakarta.  My wife’s relatives were quite well to do.  The man was the proprietor of one of the major hotels in Singapore, as well as of a flour mill in the eastern part of Indonesia.   I asked the Lord whether I could get a loan for capital to start a vegetarian restaurant in Sydney.  I did not tell this to my wife because it was only a sudden flash of inspiration during the testimonial session at the congress.


One month later when my wife returned from Jakarta, I had forgotten altogether about my prayer.  She arrived on a Friday and the following morning we attended the service at Strathfield as usual.  Then early on Sunday morning a couple from the Chinese church came knocking at our door in Thornleigh.  The young man was Peter Brendling, an Australian, and his fiancée was Robyn Thiradanakorn, a Thai girl.  They were planning to get married about a month later and asked if my wife could cater for the food for the wedding party.  My wife agreed right away and then they discussed the kind of food and paid the deposit.  As soon as they left I told my wife that she was taking a risk because I understood that you were not permitted to cater unless you had a proper licence and I knew that the regulations in Australia were very strict and could impose heavy penalties for transgressors.  She told me that recently while visiting Surabaya, which was a city on the eastern part of Java, she unexpectedly met a former school classmate from the Chinese school in that city.  Lynn met this lady at her shop and after business hours she was invited to go home with her friend.  And this friend Lian Ing gave her some money for the initial capital to start a restaurant business in Sydney.  That suddenly reminded me of my silent prayer while I was attending the Lay Activities congress one month earlier.


Lynn decided to extend her leave from work for another week.  We started to look around the estate agents, trying to find a suitable shop to start our restaurant business.  We started the quest on Monday and searched until Friday noon but we could not find something that pleased us.  There were several places in good locations but the rent was too high.  There were also some with low rents but they were far from the railway station.  Lynn did not like to drive in Sydney and so she was praying that we could find a shop close enough to the railway station.  Towards the end of that day we decided that apparently it was not the will of God that we do business so we would just return the money to her friend and forget about the project.  But while we were on our way up Epping Road we suddenly saw a Real Estate Agent which we had not noticed before, so we decided to have a last try before we gave up.


After we had parked our car we went in and met the consultant who was in charge of commercial properties.  First he took us a new shopping mall at Hornsby Heights, the shop looked very nice and the area seemed to be all right but it was quite a distance from the railway station.  We asked the consultant if he had another shop.  He said there just one more, which was located at West Ryde about fourteen kilometres away from the last shop we visited. When we arrived at that shop at West Ryde we noticed a zebra crossing right in front of that shop, and on the other side of the street where the crossing ended, we saw the sign for West Ryde Railway station.  We decided right away that this must be the shop set aside by the Lord for our business.


The following Monday we were introduced to the proprietor, a Lebanese gentleman called Harry Hanna.  He was a retired business man who had been looking for someone to rent his empty shop, but nobody was interested because it was located on the quiet side of the railway line and very few people passed by.  But the business that we were intending to start did not necessarily depend on the passers by, because we were thinking of doing mostly catering, specializing in vegetarian or vegan food.


We sent in an application to the local municipal council at Ryde with a request to start a vegetarian food business in that shop.  But some of our friends suggested that we should also serve food for the non-vegetarians.   So in our application we specified that we would serve mainly vegetarian foods but that we would also offer chicken and fish dishes for non-vegetarians.  We were told by the staff of the municipal council that usually it took between six weeks and three months to process a restaurant licence.  But since at that time there was a local election going on, there was a possibility that the licence may not be granted for six months.  Our hearts became very heavy when we heard that information.


But two days later we received a phone call from the mayor’s secretary, and he told us  that the mayor of Ryde was interested in the proposal because there was not vegetarian restaurant in the area at that time. But he had noticed that we were going to mix in fish and chicken dishes.  So the mayor said that if we could change the application to vegetarian only food, he would make an exception and could give us the licence within one week.  We sent a silent prayer to God asking for forgiveness for our lack of faith.


Five days later we were called to the Town Secretary’s Office.  When handing us our licence to start the restaurant we called Lynn Lee Vegetarian Foods in West Ryde, he remarked, “This was the first time I have processed a restaurant licence in just five days.  Apparently you must have a very special relationship with the boss upstairs.”  What he meant was the Mayor, whose office was above his.  I replied with a smile .  “You are right Mr Brown, we have a special relationship with the Boss upstairs.”  By that we meant our Boss in heaven.






Chapter 13 The First Year of Business, Full of Struggles


We opened our restaurant on Sunday November 13 1977, which happened to be my birthday.  We invited several members and ministers whom we knew from the SDA church, the staff of the mayor’s office in Ryde and our neighbours and the surrounding shop owners.  One of them was the member of the NSW Parliament. 

My wife was assisted by three workers who prepared eleven different kinds of Chinese and Indonesian vegetarian dishes.  All who were invited to come that evening appeared at the function and our shop was so small that most had to stand while eating.


Across the railway station was the busier part of West Ryde while the street where we were located, Ryedale Road, was very quiet.  At the other side, in West Parade, one week before our opening, a big restaurant called Ho King was launched by a Chinese business man.  There were very big advertisements about this restaurant in the local paper, which we estimated cost several thousand dollars, and also in the national papers.  The advertisements ran for several months and made us very nervous as we could not afford to put such kinds of advertisements.   A very small one for several days before the opening was all we could afford.


For their opening they invited all the staff from the Ryde municipal office and several prominent people and business men.  And of course we were not included in the invitation.  They had seating for 200 people and in the advertisement included pictures showing more than 10 of their cooking staff, with their shining and luxurious equipment.  This made us shake our heads in disbelief and we were full of trepidation.  They also had live bands every weekend.  They offered low prices as incentives for people to visit them, and they were putting out several dozens if not hundreds of dishes and drinks which made us feel very, very inferior.  But we were very shocked and surprised six months later when the Ho King restaurant was closed down, bankrupt, and replaced by a pub and night club which later was also closed.  The building is now owned by Koorong Christian Bookshop.


The following week was our biggest test, there were not many people who came to our restaurant and this happened every day until the following weekend.  Because it was summer it was very difficult for us to open the restaurant Saturday evening because the sun set after 8 pm, while on Friday of course we could not open it because we had to prepare for Sabbath.  Sometimes there were so many customers in the evening that Lynn complained of having cramped hands and palms cooking so much and we had to return home too late at night during the week, and some Sunday evenings.  But more often than not there were very few people and at such moments we were only staring sadly at each other.  At the end of the fiscal year in June 1978 we found that we were in the red and were very frustrated.


During that year we prayed so much that sometimes we could hardly stand up again because our knees were cramped and painful, and our hearts were heavy.  In the beginning of the year we approached the Sanitarium Health Food outlet shops, of which there were several in Sydney, selling snacks.  We humbly offered them samples so that they could sell our food, vegetarian spring rolls, Dutch croquettes, Indonesian rissoles and dim sims but the manager politely declined, giving the reason that they were quite busy and that those kinds of products were available in neighbouring food outlets and he felt it would be very difficult to compete with them in the same line of business.


The following year the manager was replaced with some one else and Lynn suggested I take some samples and ask the new manager, Mr Ross Forbes, if he would be able to sell them.  He was more optimistic than the previous staff and suggested they try a dozen of each of our products at their outlet in Hornsby, which is on the northern outskirts of the city. That noon we received a phone call from the store manager in Hornsby that the samples had all sold out in a very short time and asked if we could double the order for the following day.   You can bet we offered heartfelt thanks to the Lord and prayed that if it was possible, our business could be successful so that eventually we could just own one house in Sydney and that would satisfy us.


We conveyed the message to the headquarters of the SHF outlet department and asked Mr Forbes for permission to try in the other outlets in the CBD which were in Hunter St and King St, and at Burwood.  Mr Forbes agreed and allowed us to put our products at those three Health Food shops.  Besides that we visited other canteens at the SDA High School and the four universities in Sydney.


For people among our members who are doing any kind of business, I can testify that I am sure faithfulness in tithe paying brings great rewards, just as promised by our Lord.   We followed the suggestion of the apostle Paul.  Whatever was happening to us, on the first day of the week we counted our turnover and set aside the tithe and offerings which we were going to pay.  Although still owing money to the bank, we decided that we wanted to be faithful in that matter.  The requirement from the Health Department of the City Council was that we had to make a grease trap at the back of our restaurant and this grease trap had to be drained when it got full.  This cost us quite a lot of money, but praise the Lord it did not leave us hanging in the air, and after one year we began to see the fulfillment of His promises.


To cut the story short, the orders increased rapidly and we received orders from other places around Sydney.  In a relatively short time we were supplying over 50 outlets, from Hornsby to Cronulla.  God was really very good to us.  He blessed our business more than we dared to expect from Him.   At the end of eleven years of doing this food and catering business, the Lord blessed us with the increase of four properties. 


While doing this business I was also able to serve voluntarily as a preacher in the churches around Sydney and to give first hand experiences in mission stories of our life in Indonesia and Sarawak.  From the income we were also able to send our two kids to our high school at Strathfield, although it was quite expensive for us when we could have sent them to the public school free of charge.


After he graduated from the high school our son Victor was thinking of continuing in the food business.  He started a food and catering course from Ryde Technical College.  At the end of the year while sitting for the examination he was required to prepare food which contained unclean meat and alcoholic drinks so he decided to drop out and move to Avondale College instead.  He took the ministerial course there without any prompting from us.  He was involved in an accident once while driving to deliver our products and he thought that it was only by the mercy of God that he escaped death.


Our relatives and acquaintances who were not SDA criticized us for not using our brains properly, in sending our only son, who is quite intelligent and talented, to become a minister.  My wife replied that God had only one Son and He turned Him into a minister.  But actually we never suggested that he take that course, in fact I was afraid that he would be over saturated with religious matters, from listening to my sermons since he was a three month old baby.   We used to put him in the room next to the stage where we put our audiovisual aids, every time we conducted our evangelistic efforts.  When he was awake our church members used to take turns looking after him during the meetings.


I noticed that my son had shown talents as a public speaker since he was very young, and some Australians remarked that he had the gift of the gab.  I remember when he was just six years old, attending the first year of primary school at our church school in Manado.  During an Adventist Youth program the speaker was unable to come.  The program was about Christian education at home and the parents as the child’s first teachers.  The AY leader was a bit upset and did not know what to do to replace the speaker.  At that time Victor suddenly said, “Let me do it.  I can do that”. Everybody thought it was very funny from such a tiny tot but some suggested, “Why don’t we try, it might be good even though it is funny”. So he was allowed to go up to the pulpit and he was hidden behind it as he was so small.  So he stood at the side of the pulpit and started to talk about how parents should train up their children.  Apparently he had been listening either to my discourses or his mother’s during our evangelistic meetings and he pointed out that it is very important for the father and the mother to be working together in disciplining their children.  And I heard the elder of the church Brother Peter Kairupan whisper to a member next to him, “Whose son is this?  Who does he think he is, giving advice to us parents?”


We can only thank the Lord that He is still using Victor to serve in His vineyard.


For those who have never been to Sydney, our city consists of almost 4 million people and our Greater Sydney Conference has over 60 congregations and more than 8000 members.  So in comparison to Jakarta with its 10 million people, our membership ratio would be just a little better.  At the last count I would say that 44 of our congregations are English, 5 are Spanish, 4 Samoan, 3 Fijian, 3 Tongans, 2 Slavic, Cook Islanders, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Italian, Russian and Polish.  The city of Sydney covers a far bigger area than Jakarta although the population is only around one third but the area is about 81 km from north to south and 70 km from east to west.    Fortunately the roads are quite wide and during those days there were very seldom major traffic congestion, except during peak hours.  So in this Sydney is much better than Jakarta.  There were about 32 municipalities, each with its own mayor.  A few  years ago the Lord Mayor was a lady called Lucy Turnbull.  I used to joke with the church members from Indonesia that our lord mayor was an Indonesian by the name of Lus Situmpul, and I told them that it was not easy for an Indonesian to become Lord Mayor of the city of Sydney.


Now we return to my ministry in this city of Sydney.  One of the unforgettable experiences of which we learnt was the conversion of an Iraqi who was the proprietor of a cinema business in Cronulla, in the southern part of Sydney.   At that time we lived in the north of Sydney almost 80 km away.  One day I was invited to preach at the Caringbah church, whose elder was an Indonesian, Bowman Sibarani.   Mrs Devina Sibarani was a Chinese lady from Medan who was very fluent in Bataknese and a very dear friend of ours.  She always invited members of their church to lunch, especially when they had guests attending the meetings on Sabbath.


That day before I stood up to preach, the elder whispered to me that they had just baptized a man who came from Iraq.  So to interest the new convert I purposely quoted a text from the Koran.   My topic happened to be about the judgment day so I read in Arabic the text which says that   “(Allah) said: Oh Moses, I have chosen thee above (other ) men, by the mission I (have given thee) and the words I (have spoken to thee): Take then the (revelation) which I give thee, and be of those who give thanks Al’araf  7:144.     I also read a text from their Hadith which to them is like the Spirit of Prophecy, that Jesus the Son of Mary will be coming down as a righteous judge. 


Brother Nabil Bounie was very interested in my sermon and while we were having lunch at Brother Sibarani’s house he asked me a lot of questions.  Apparently he had a burden to witness to his relatives who had not accepted Jesus as their Saviour.  Brother Bounie had accepted the truth in a way I think nothing short of miraculous.


A few years previous to that, Rose, one of our members was attending a prayer meeting at Waitara church and she was impressed to pray during that prayer meeting that the Lord use her to witness for Him.  Suddenly she heard as if someone was whispering in her ear “I want you to go to the Cronulla cinema and meet the manager”.   That sister was very surprised to hear that voice and when they had finished praying she asked her friends next to her whether they had heard the voice too. They replied that they had not heard anything and asked her what the voice was like.  She repeated what she had heard and asked the minister if it was from the Lord.  He replied that he could not be sure about the source of the voice, so he suggested that they kneel down and pray again, asking the Lord to repeat the instruction if it was from Him. Sure enough the voice was heard again by Rose and the next day she tried to obey what she had been instructed.


Rose went to Cronulla but when she arrived in front of the cinema she was a little hesitant and thought what would happen if some one saw her entering that cinema. She did not go to the movies as she thought that was questionable as she was a deaconess and also a literature evangelist. She walked back and forth in front of the cinema before finally getting the courage to enter.  Inside the cinema at the ticket sales counter was a girl called Bianca, the niece of Brother Bounie.  The young lady asked Rose if she was going to buy a ticket and asked for which performance, but she replied that she wished to meet the manager as she had an important message for him.  Bianca replied that her uncle very seldom came to the cinema, especially at that time as he was feeling unwell so it was very unlikely that he would come.  But Rose replied that she had come such a long way from the northern part of Sydney with this special message, and she was very sure she had to meet him.  She was sitting in the foyer a little disappointed and started to pray to the Lord, that she had followed His instructions but apparently it was a failure.  And she had the impression as if someone had whispered to her again, to wait for a few moments.  She waited for quite some time and all the time the young lady glanced at her curiously and thought that she must be a little strange.


Out of the blue Brother Bounie appeared at the door.  Bianca was the daughter of Nabil’s sister, and had been baptized into our church when she was younger, but had not attended the church lately.  Now facing this situation she felt her heart beating and she said that it was very strange, especially when she saw tha  her uncle had suddenly appeared, which had not happened before.  And what happened following that will be continued in the next episode.


Chapter 14 God’s Unlimited Grace

Nabil Bounie was surprised to know that someone was looking for him, and had been waiting for about half an hour.  He was very sure that no one, not even his niece, knew that he would be coming into the cinema that day.  He approached Rose and introduced himself and asked the purpose of her coming.   Rose replied that she had heard the whispering of the Holy Spirit while she was attending a prayer meeting on Wednesday and she had been told to come to see him.  As soon as he heard that, he suspected it must be the work of his sister who was a member of the SDA church in Wahroonga.  He told Rose that he was very busy that day, and asked her to write her name and phone number so she could be contacted some other day.  Rose wrote down her name and phone number and was very glad that she had done as she had been instructed by the Holy Spirit.


As soon as Rose left the cinema Nabil contacted his sister and shouted through the phone “I have told you not to interfere with my life.  You can do whatever you like and worship Who ever you want, that is your business and I will not interfere with you.  But I have told you so many times that I am not interested in religion at all.  I am happy with my life, I have never cheated anybody and I have not committed any crime.”


Now it was the turn of his sister to be surprised, to get the phone call and the harsh message.  She said “I do not have a clue what you are talking about.”


So he said “Who else knows about me and would send someone like that who would claim that she was sent by God?  There could be no one else who would have that kind of crazy notion.”


Now it was really very puzzling to Nabil when he found his sister knew nothing of this, she did not know Rose and she had never attended the Waitara Wednesday prayer meeting.  She added that she only attended church on Sabbath, but recently she had not even done that.   Nabil was very puzzled about this and decided to forget it. 


He continued with his life as if nothing had happened but two years later he was admitted to the hospital with a high fever and he was very weak, unable to get out of bed.  This lasted for several weeks and he thought that he was going to die.  The doctors could not find what was wrong and said that it was just a viral infection.  


After he recovered Nabil suddenly remembered Rose’s visit two years earlier and he became curious to know what could have been the message that God wanted him to hear.    So he tried to find the piece of paper where Rose had written her name and phone number and he could not understand how that piece of paper was still in his wallet after so long.  So he rang Rose and asked her if she could come to the Cronulla cinema to meet him.  Rose came at the appointed time and they met again.  This time Nabil asked her, “What was the message of the Holy Spirit which you had for me?” 


Rose was not able to reply to that question and just said “I myself do not know exactly what I have to do, I was just instructed to come to meet you, but I think the Lord wants you to know about Him so that He can save your soul.  Is it all right if I find the pastor of the church nearest to where you live and ask him to visit you?”  Nabil was a bit hesitant in the beginning but after thinking for a few minutes he thought “OK, I want to know what your pastor will tell me”.  So the pastor of the Caringbah church was contacted by Rose and asked to visit Nabil .


A few months later after studying the Bible with the pastor, he was baptized in the Caringbah church and not long afterwards, I met him as I described in the last chapter, at the house of Elder Sibarani.  He asked for my phone number so he could contact me because he was very interested to discuss the Bible with me.


A few months later I was working in my office at the travel agency in Sydney as an inbound tour manager.  My duty was to plan for and guide tour groups from Indonesia coming to Australia, a job I started in 1986.  The company was owned by an Indonesian man who was station manager of Garuda Airlines in Sydney.  I had to meet groups of Indonesian tourists, when they arrived at Brisbane airport.  I usually took them on a tour of the Gold Coast, from there we flew to Sydney and I took them on a tour of Sydney then down to Canberra and on to Melbourne where we had other tours.   Then we sent them off from Melbourne to go back to Jakarta. Sometimes I would meet them in Melbourne and farewell them from Brisbane.


So that day I happened to be free when I received a call from Nabil.  He sounded very weak and ill and he asked me if I could visit him in his home.  I told him that I would do that the following morning and so around 10 am I arrived and found him reclining on a sofa in the living room of his beautiful house.  I noticed that he had a very nice house but he was very pale and weak and did not even lift up his body when I shook his hand.   His sister and mother were there taking care of him and they also looked very sad and tired.  So I asked him what he wanted to talk about and we discussed the Bible until almost noon.


After we had studied the Bible, going from one subject to another for a couple of hours, he asked me to pray for him.  So I knelt down and prayed for him, for the Lord’s mercy and to heal him from his sickness.  A few minutes after we finished praying I noticed the colour come back to his face and he looked much better.  His face was shining and he looked happy. Suddenly he stood up from the couch and walked toward a cabinet where the phone was, and his mother was shocked and shouted “Nabil!  Don’t do that, you should not walk, you are too weak.”  But Nabil assured her that he was all right and told her not to worry.


He rang his younger sister somewhere but I could not understand what he was saying because he was speaking Farsi.  Then he asked me “Pastor Lee, are you free for the whole day today?”  I replied “Yes I am free, what do you have in mind?”  He continued his conversation with his sister and then he put down the phone and said to me “Let us go to my sister’s house.  I want you to teach them everything you have taught me today”.  I was a little dumbfounded, it seemed a strange request but because I was really free that day, I did not refuse.  But I was a bit hesitant because I was not sure who I was going to meet and I did not know her background at all.  He went to take a shower and a few minutes later he was ready and he asked me to go with him.  His sister said that she could not drive him, as she had to return to Wahroonga to pick up her children from school.  Nabil replied that he did not need her, he was going to drive his own car.  She told him, “You must be joking, you were not even able to comb your hair that morning, how can you drive a car now?”


He replied “I am not kidding at all.  I tell you I am alright and I mean it.”  So although I was a little doubtful and apprehensive of what could happen, I stepped into the passenger seat of his Jaguar and we were on our way to his sister and her family.  When I arrived at her place, I was surprised to find about a dozen family members who had gathered there.  And after hugging each other the Arabic way, even I was not spared, we sat down in a circle in their living room and I noticed that Nabil looked very well and all his relatives were very happy to see him.  They seemed to be very happy to see me too, and talked to me as if I was a long lost friend of Nabil. 


They asked me about my origins and Nabil introduced me as being a priest from the Christian Adventist church and that I could recite the Koran.  At first they did not believe what Nabil said so he asked me to say the Muslim prayer called the Asyahada, which meant I proclaimed that there is only one God, and that Mohammed was a messenger of God.  And then I quoted a few other verses from the Hadith about the prophecy concerning the Son of Mary, Who will be returning as a righteous judge.  I was very thankful to my teacher in college who had given me the course in Arabic and the Koran, but I never dreamed that I would be using this in Australia.  They were so interested and with the help of Nabil translating what they could not understand, we were in a very lively conversation until 1.30.   We had lunch with the whole family while continuing our conversation over the meal.  It lasted until 7 pm that evening and after about half an hour off for tea, we continued the conversation until about 9 o’clock.   When I arrived home at 10 o’clock my wife jokingly said “Have you come from Baghdad?”


I met Nabil several times more with his family, and once he requested that I conduct a special evangelistic outreach to people from the Middle East and said that he would be willing to pay my salary.  I was not able to fulfill his request because my daughter went to Jakarta and asked me to help her conduct an English language school for children. There were too many applicants and she was not able to cope with them.  I told Nabil that my knowledge of the Koran was very limited and I would need to study more to do what he wanted me to do.  So in 1988 I returned to Jakarta to help my daughter conduct an English language course.   Five years later when I was in Kuala Lumpur I heard that Nabil had passed away, but I thank God that he had been converted before he went to his rest.  I was at that time serving as the pastor of the Kuala Lumpur English congregation of the SDA church.


Chapter 15 Miracles in Makassar

Before I continue with my experience as pastor of the English congregation of the Kuala Lumpur SDA church in Malaysia, I have to go back to the time when I was asked to conduct an evangelistic effort in Makassar, which was formerly called Ujung Pandang.  In 1982 I was asked by the members of the SDA church in that city to conduct an evangelistic campaign.   Because I had to help my wife in her restaurant business, as I have previously described, I was only able to leave her during the holiday season when my two children could help her in the shop.  This was during the months of December and January, so I told them that I was willing to conduct the effort but it must be from the beginning of December until the middle of January.  They asked if it would be possible to start in November because December is usually monsoon season.   In Makassar it is always very bad, and it is hard to expect people to come to meetings in the rain.   I told them that I could not change the dates but finally I was able, after negotiating with my wife, to come in the middle of November


The meetings lasted exactly 45 nights starting from the middle of November until the end of December.  At that time there was only one auditorium big enough to hold a thousand people and that was located next to the old Rotterdam fort of Ulung Pandang.  But it was only available for eight nights because it was always fully booked for functions.  So we decided to hold the first eight nights of meetings in the public auditorium and then we would continue the rest of the series at the SDA church at Jalan Durian.


Actually most of the members objected because they were afraid that they would be spending too much money and could not be sure about the results in souls being baptized.  I comforted them by saying that there was nothing impossible with God.   If that was His will, I would conduct the effort there.  He is the God of nature and He can change the season according to His promise.  There is nothing too hard for Him to perform.  He could make the rain to fall 40 days without stopping when no one had seen a drop of rain, on the other hand He could stop the rain for falling for three and a half years during the time of Elijah.    So I reasoned with them, that unless God has changed, He is still able to stop the rain or to do something about it.  I suggested that they start praying and fasting if possible, to ask for God’s intervention.


The first night of the meeting the auditorium was packed.  The 900 chairs prepared were all occupied and our members had to stand during the meetings.  We were also blessed with the ministry of the choirs of several non SDA churches, especially the Pentecostal church.  They had heard that I was the son of a Pentecostal minister.


God was really very wonderful.  During the first seven nights there was no rain at all. And on the last night, –the eighth night – as I was preaching from the pulpit the rain started to fall in such a way that it looked like millions of barrels of water were being poured out of heaven.  The rain came down in sheets.  The rain was so noisy hitting the roof of the building that I had to shout at the top of my lungs in order to be heard above the din.  Toward the end of my sermon the rain was still coming down and the noise was just terrible.  When I offered the closing prayer I thanked the Lord for His mercy in allowing us to conduct the meetings for the last seven days without any hindrances, so that the rain had not fallen during that last week, although it was the midst of the monsoon season.  The rain that night only proved that He was really very merciful to us showing us what would have happened if He had not interfered.  But I prayed that He show His power and mercy just a little more that night, so that the rain would stop for a few hours to let the audience go back home safely.  And sure enough, and to the amazement of everyone including myself, the rain stopped just the way it had started, it was so sudden.


But outside with the two hours of heavy rain the result was dramatic.  The water just outside to the hall was knee deep and I had to be carried by our members piggy back so that I did not get wet, to the car.   Everybody was talking about the strange happening and they all scrambled out of the building and hurried back home because the sky was still very dark and there was still the rumbling of thunder in the distance.  And two hours later when everyone must have been safely back home, the rain started again and it did not stop until quite late the following morning.


The following day we were planning to start the ninth meeting at the church and I was just hoping against hope that the Lord would continue the miracle because everybody who has lived in Makassar knows that during the monsoon season the rain starts very regularly just as if it is following the clock.  It begins to pour around 3 pm and then it stops the following morning.  But to everybody’s surprise the situation was exactly the opposite during that and the following month.  The rain started in the middle of the night and continued the following day until 3 or 4 pm, which made it possible for the members and the guests to come to the church.  Since the start of the meeting our members had all been very cooperative in inviting their neighbours, friends and relatives.  The Elders of the church, including Brother Sutresman, Brother Mamahit, Brother Lt Colonel Tawas, Dr J Lisal and his wife Irene Lisal, Dr Hengky Mandalas and his wife Lily and Brothers John Selintung , Timeke Sitompul and the others whose names I cannot remember plus the president of the South Sulawesi Mission Pr Rein Keasulya and all his staff,l helped us with all their hearts. We felt the unity amongst the members, which was so wonderful.


On the first night of the meetings conducted in the church, one of our members who was studying at the Catholic Senior High School Senior invited two of his classmates to attend the meeting.    He told them that the speaker was a Chinese from Australia, an alumnus of the Catholic Junior High School in Makassar.  They were interested to come but unfortunately they had not attended the meetings from the beginning so they missed my earlier sermons building up to that night’s topic.  That night I happened to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday and that was a shock to the young students, and they got upset and angry and left the meeting..  They thought that I was not telling the truth because they had always thought that the Sabbath was changed by Jesus and the disciples, not by the Catholic Church.


Just at that moment something happened, which I believe was not coincidental but through the wonderful arrangement of God as He promised in Romans 8:28 that things work together for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His purpose.  A young man by the name of Happy Tio, who worked as a reporter for the local newspaper, was waiting for the time he usually went to his office to prepare for the printing of the newspaper for the following day.  He was enjoying the sunset at Losari Beach and he slowly walked past our church.   He saw these two young men coming and noticed that they were very agitated and talking angrily to each other, so he approached them and asked what was happening.


One of them replied “There is a young minister there who was making accusations against our church, for things she has not done.  I have never heard such a stupid accusation by a Christian minister.  He was just twisting the truth. Do not go in there, you would be wasting your time”.


Happy, instead of going away from the church, was very curious and thought that was the first time some Christians had said bad things about a preacher.  Usually they always said good things about the Christian church and had invited him several times to attend church meetings.  So he thought that this was material for a story, as a reporter he was interested, and also attracted as a Buddhist who thought he could use this as ammunition against the Christians.  So he entered the church and for over a month from that night until the last, Happy attended all the rest of the meetings, without missing one.


Beside him there were Lt Willem Timbong, a minister of the Pentecostal church and his wife,  the Tengkers, a couple with their two sons and one daughter, a doctor from the military hospital in Makassar, several students from the Hasanuddin and several other guests who attended very faithfully and regularly from the beginning.   On the last night of the series, we conducted the baptism followed by a meal and thanksgiving service, when those people gave their testimonies.


Happy Tio testified in these words “My dear brothers and sisters, I am as a reporter always hoping one day to make the most sensational news for my paper. I tell you that all the news in the paper nowadays is very, very bad.  But here in this church for the whole month I have been listening to the most wonderful and sensational news that I have ever heard, that the Son of God Himself, the Creator and Owner of the whole universe, has such a great love that He was willing to come down to this world to suffer and finally lay down His life so that we can have eternal life with Him as His heirs in His kingdom forever.”


Another testimony that I thought really wonderful was given by brother J Tengker.  He related how a month before the start of the evangelistic meeting, his wife told him of a dream which she had.  In that dream she saw the two of them walking near a lake.  At that time they felt very thirsty and thought that they might get some water to drink from the lake.  But they were very disappointed when they came to the lake, they saw that it was dry.   There was not a single drop of water in the lake.  While they were feeling sad, they saw there were clouds in the heavens and suddenly the rain poured. They cupped their hands to drink the rain water.  And Mrs Tengker found the water to be really fresh and sweet, so she said to her husband, “Daddy why don’t you go and look for a container so that we can keep some of this water and share it with other people who are as thirsty as us”.


When she woke from her sleep Mrs Tengker still remembered the dream very vividly and asked her husband what its meaning could be.  They were not able to guess the meaning of the dream, but after the baptism that night when we had the testimony time, he said “Now we can understand the meaning of my wife’s dream.  I am very sure that this is the meaning.  So far we have been attending another Christian church but we have never felt spiritually satisfied.  But after attending the meetings in this church for one and a half months, we feel so satisfied and feel that the word of God is so wonderful and sweet.  My son Yanis and I have taken notes of all the sermons and visual aids made by Pr Sammy Lee and we have put them into a book.  We would like to be able to witness this wonderful truth to other people also so that they can taste the blessing that we have enjoyed.”


Before I left the city, Brother Tengker and his son had copied 8 books altogether, books which had been requested by the local ministers.   About one year later when I returned to that city I was told that his two sons together with several other young people conducted a youth effort, from which they had baptized several young people.  This was wonderful to hear.


Another wonderful testimony was given by the Pentecostal minister.  Willem Timbong before the evangelistic series started was conducting a short course meetings around Minahasa and Manado, in several Pentecostal churches there.  He preached for several nights in one place then moved to another.  This lasted for about six months.  He testified that during the six months he had baptized about forty souls into the Pentecostal church. When he returned to Makassar his former commander Lt Colonel Tawas, invited him to attend the meetings that we were conducting.. The Colonel said that there was a Chinese minister from Australia, who was formerly from Makassar, who had previously conducted meetings all over Manado resulting in hundreds of people being baptized.   Mr and Mrs Timbong attended the meetings every night, not missing any.  His wife was formerly a Muslim but she had been baptized into the Pentecostal church.  Once or twice they were not able to come but they asked Brother Tawas to take down the notes of my sermon so they could still study it.


Towards the end of the campaign, I invited our regular guests to come and join the Sabbath morning worship in the church.  Brother Timbong gladly accepted the invitation and decided to join us but his wife said that she felt she belonged to the church of Jesus already.  In fact she was not happy that her husband was going to attend the SDA church meetings.


She said to him, “You are not in your right mind.  Before I married you I had never eaten pork, but you were the one who taught me to eat pork.  Now you want to join this church.  Now if I join with you I will have to discard pork from our table.  Later if you decide to change religion again and become a Hindu, I will have to stop eating beef. I do not know what will happen after that.  You are just unreasonable.”


Willem Timbong only smiled when he  listened to his wife complain, and replied patiently “I have been attending the Pentecostal church for dozens of years but I have never heard such wonderful and clear sermons as I have heard here.  I am convinced now that this is the truth according to God’s Word.  I am convinced and I do not think I will ever change religion.”


The wife still resisted and said “It is up to you, but I am not going to leave our church.”


The following Sabbath as I was preparing to preach, while we were on the platform, I noticed there were four young foreigners in the church so I asked the Mission President who they were.  He replied that they were student missionaries from the US, who had come as volunteers to teach at the Ulung Pandang English Conversation school, which was operated by the South Sulawesi  Mission in that city. I asked him if they would understand if I preached in Indonesian.  He replied that perhaps they would not but he would ask Brother John Selintung to sit with them and translate what I preached.

“That is not good.” I said, “because I will be disturbed and so will the members in the church”.  So I decided to preach in English and to ask Pastor Kesalya to translate my sermon into Indonesian.  At the end of the service while shaking hands with the members, Willem Timbong whispered to me that he had a question to ask.  I told him that was all right and asked him to wait until all the members had left the church.  I thought he was going to ask me for my opinion concerning divine healing and speaking in tongues, as that was the favourite topic of his church.


But I was mistaken.  He related the dream which his wife had had, earlier that Sabbath morning.  According to him about 2 o’clock that morning his wife woke him and told him about her dream.  In the dream she saw herself walking in a strange city while trying to find her husband.   She came to a tall tower and beside the tower there was a young minister wearing a black suit.  The minister asked, “Sister, who are you looking for?”  Mrs Timbong replied “I am looking for my husband who has gone Sabbath keeping.”  The minister in the dream replied, “Sister, your husband is not found among them, in that church there are only English speaking people.”  When she woke up from her dream she felt very depressed and thought it was a bad dream and she was frightened.  She asked her husband what the meaning of the dream could be.   Could it be that they would be separated or one of them will die?


Willem Timbong replied “You had better go back to sleep.  This is still the middle of the night. Tomorrow morning I am going to ask the minister in the church the meaning of your dream.  At the same time we can prove if he has the Holy Spirit.”


So that noon he asked me the meaning of his wife’s dream.  I told him that I was not Joseph nor Daniel so the interpretation of this dream might not be correct, but I thought the meaning could be this:   Usually when someone loses his way in a strange place he will try to find a familiar landmark which can help him to find out where he is at that moment.  He might find a tall building or a mountain or a tower.  So I thought that morning the Holy Spirit was trying to convince his wife that they were about to be directed toward the truth.  According to her the minister who stood beside that tower was wearing a black suit.  Usually the favourite colour of the Pentecostal ministers is white, they never wear dark suits.  So I pointed out that the minister in that dream could not be a Pentecostal minister.


Secondly the minister in that dream used the term “sister” which is in English and not Zus dan Broer, the terms which are commonly used among the Pentecostal people The terms sister and brother are usually used in the SDA church.  Thirdly, when the minister told her that her husband was not there, I think it was because he had not made a decision to be baptized because he was afraid of his wife’s objection. Number four, the minister said that inside that building in the tower there were only English speaking people.  That morning when the wife had the dream, no body including myself knew that I would be preaching in English.  So how could his wife know about this at 2 o’clock in the morning, nine hours before it happened, and was told that in that building there were only English speaking people?   Didn’t he think that this was the Holy Spirit trying to convince them that they were listening to the Voice of God and that He was inviting them to follow the right way?


I am glad to report that husband and his wife were included in the 45 people baptized that night.  Later Brother Timbong was appointed as a volunteer Bible teacher to a church company in the south of Makassar, a little town called Sungguminasa.


Chapter 16 Return to Malaysia, to Kuala Lumpur

In 1991 my son Victor was studying at South East Asian Union College in Singapore.  While visiting him at the school, I met an old acquaintance, Pr David Leo, the President of the Peninsular Malaysian Mission, whom I had known since my service in Sarawak.  He asked me where I was living and what I was doing at that time.  I told him I was teaching English with my wife, operating an English school in Jakarta.  He asked me why I was not serving in the mission field.  I replied that since 1975 my status had been leave of absence from the mission, and they had never called me back since I left Manado to study in Australia.  Although I was not employed by the denomination, almost every Sabbath I preached in churches in Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne and sometimes in Indonesia.  Sometimes I was invited to preach on Sundays in non SDA churches.


Pastor Leo said to me , “Pr Lee, you should not waste your talent doing worldly business.  You should work for the Lord.  If you are given a call to serve back in the mission, are you willing to accept it?”


I replied, “it has been 15 years since I have worked in the mission field and I do not think the organization will accept me back to work as a minister.”


At that time, I did not understand his purpose, but later I found that he needed a senior pastor to shepherd the English congregation of the Kuala Lumpur church.  For three years the church had been pastured by an Indian Pastor from Malaysia, Pastor George Jones, whose wife is a Malaysian Chinese.    Pastor Jones was a brilliant worker and very fluent, he had very good ideas and the members in Kuala Lumpur loved him.  He had been unable to move as the Mission had requested, and the members were very disappointed.  After he left a lot of the members decided to go to other churches.


That is why, when Pr Leo met me, he felt that his prayer had been answered and he recruited me for Malaysia.  Actually my income operating the English school was far better than the salary of a minister in Malaysia.  Besides, I had the chance to go to Singapore, Malaysia or Australia every two months to extend my visa.  But when I told this to Lynn, she suggested that I should accept the Mission call.  She knew that my heart was still in the ministry and that I was not a born business man.


The following month I received an official call from Pastor Leo indicating that the Far Eastern Division and the South East Asian Union had given the green light to recruit me as minister for the Kuala Lumpur English congregation of the SDA church.  I was also appointed as the mission evangelist and director of the English language school which the mission operated in a town called Kajang, eighteen kilometres  from Kuala Lumpur.


When the church members heard that the mission had called an Indonesian pastor to replace their former pastor, they were all complaining because they were skeptical that any Indonesian could ever fill the shoes of their former pastor.  When I arrived to preach for my first Sabbath at the end of 1991 only about a quarter of the 150 members appeared at the church.  I felt very sad and wished I were back in Jakarta again where nearly every Sabbath I worshipped in churches with hundreds of members filling the pews.   I also had little support because my wife was not able to join me right away. She had to settle our housing contract and had to help to plan for our daughter’s wedding.  I was given accommodation in the apartment for workers above the mission office, next to the Regency Hotel in Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.   We always called it the Regency Hotel Annex if people asked our address, because it was easier to find if they came by taxi.


The following Sabbath more members turned up for the service, but still only about half of the normal attendance according to the people.  They must have heard from the others that this new pastor from Indonesia was not as bad in his English as they had thought. And on the third week the attendance was back to normal again and my spirit was up and I praised the Lord.  I consulted with the leaders of the church about holding a weekend revival meeting and retreat at Port Dixon Baptist Mission Resort near Malacca.  They were quite enthusiastic and so we had the revival meetings and renewed our dedication and then we continued with an evangelistic effort for three weeks in the church.  Although the result was only four baptised, the spiritual condition of the church members was fully restored and we continued doing active outreach in the other branches of the church.


Every Sabbath I worshipped at the Kuala Lumpu church and we would have lunch with the members.  We would continue with Bible study and an AY program and then we moved to Petaling Jaya for an evening service until the closing of Sabbath.  That church was used by the Chinese congregation in the morning.  Most Saturday nights after closing of Sabbath we went together to the Hawker Centre which is near the Petaling Jaya church.  We usually ate at the Indian vegetarian restaurant where we had our meal poured onto banana leaves on the table and we had a nice time talking and socializing while enjoying the Indian food.  We could eat as much as we liked, they kept adding the food, for only RM 2.50 each, less than one dollar.  Once in a while if we had a guest from Malaysia or overseas Mrs Tay, one our most well to do members, became our sponsor in taking us all to a Chinese vegetarian restaurant which was usually more expensive than the Indian, but Mrs Tay preferred it.  Also every Sabbath it was usually Mrs Tay’s cooking that predominated at the potluck table.


Every quarter we usually conducted a volunteer working bee at other churches and after the work was completed we had a sports afternoon with tugs of war, volleyball, soccer and Takrau.  This game is a little like volleyball but the rattan ball is kicked rather than punched.   Once in a while I had also to do a tour to Ipo and Penang and Johore Baru.


The thing I disliked most was that it was not easy to get a working visa for Malaysia so every two months I had to take a bus or a train to Singapore to extend my visa.  Sometimes I would go to Penang and then to Medan by air or ferry.  The Malaysian government is strict about giving visas to missionaries.  I had an experience sitting next to the minister of the Anglican church.   He said that after 7 years he still had to leave the country every two months.


My wife joined me in February but not long after that she was asked by her cousin’s wife to start a textile exporting business in Hong Kong.  Before she moved to Hong Kong we were doing weekday work at Kajang to conduct English courses.   We had to stay overnight in one of the rooms as it would have been too late to return to Kuala Lumpur.


George Jones after leaving the mission worked as a real estate agent with his friends in Kuala Lumpur.  He continued to worship with us at the Kuala Lumpu church and I really appreciated his help in filling the pulpit as a preacher when I was away, and also helping me to conduct the afternoon programs.  He was very well liked by the young people and we continued to cooperate, doing well as a team.


Several bachelor members made the church their second home and they were there almost every day and almost every evening we would have tea at the Hawker Centre at Bukit Bitang.  Later on I was sad to leave the Kuala Lumpur church because my wife could not leave the new business which she had commenced with her cousin in Hong Kong.


Several of the young people in the Kuala Lumpur church were Tony and Betty Huan, Lim Hong Fat, Thomas Chin, Alex Rajahkumar,  and Sonny and Kenneth. Those young people always gathered at the annex of the Hotel Regency, and  there were 3 girls, Irene, Jenny and Jessica. They were really very church centred people and the only other place where I have met a situation like this, was in Manado in Indonesia. 


Twice during my ministry in Kuala Lumpur my son Victor came there, bringing his school mates from SEA Union College to conduct a puppet ministry at Bukit Bitang Plaza which is located across from the church.  Their programs were very well liked by the children and I think this a very good way to conduct evangelistic efforts with little expense.  They were sponsored by the management of the Plaza.  They conducted songs, with musical instruments and stories, accompanied with hand puppets on a small stage made by themselves.  They based their stories on interesting Bible stories and characters like Daniel, Joshua and Samson, interspersed with songs.  They told some humorous anecdotes, all edited by Victor who has been good at this since he was small.  The interest was quite large and usually the parents came to join their kids and they were given pamphlets and small booklets.


One regulation in Malaysia was that we were not allowed to distribute religious literature in the Malay language so we were only able to minister to the Chinese, Indian and English speaking people.  Proselytising to Malay Muslims is forbidden and can bring terrible consequences.  There was one tragedy when our young minister taught a young Malay man, who decided to be baptized.  Our minister was kidnapped and one morning his dismembered body was found, inside a rice gunny sack, in front of the Johore Baru church.  So in Malaysia our work progresses very slowly in comparison to Indonesia and Sabah and Sarawak, where there are a lot of Buddhists, Christians and animists.


After working for one year in Kuala Lumpur, and still being unsuccessful in obtaining a visa, at the end of the 1992 I took holidays and went to visit my wife in Hong Kong.  She was in the New Territories on Jing Yi Island. I thought that after that I would return to Australia.  But apparently it was not the Lord's plan for me.


After arriving in Hong Kong on December 1 I found out that my wife had booked me to preach at the Tsuen Wan Church which was located at the Tseun Wan SDA hospital, and the following week I was preaching at Hong Kong Adventist  College.  A few days later I visited the Hong Kong-Macao Conference Office at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon, to see the office and to get acquainted with the leaders of the Conference.  Pastor Howard Hung was the president of the conference and he gave me an enthusiastic and friendly welcome.


I was told that they were planning to build a secondary school called Sam Yuk Middle School in Macao, a Portuguese colony in China.   Co-incidentally the director of the proposed school, Dr Handel Luke, was in the adjacent office of the treasurer, Pastor Hung suggested that I meet Dr Luke if I was interested in working in Macao.


When I heard the name Macao which was famous as the Las Vegas of Asia, I had to suppress my laughter.  When I was small and lived in Makassar we children of the Chinese Indonesian population were Dutch educated, and had always been out of favour with the pure Chinese students who were studying at the school. My neighbours who originally came from Macao always called us Hoan Ti Kia, which means native children because we did not speak Chinese at all. In retaliation we called them Macao Chinese, which is a very derogatory expression in Indonesia. Now to imagine that I had been offered work as a chaplain and English teacher at the SDA secondary school at Macao! That is why I felt very amused and exploded in laughter.


After talking for a few minutes, suddenly Dr Luke appeared in the office and Pastor Hung remarked, "Dr Luke, I think you have found your man," and he introduced me to him.  Dr Handel Luke was a short skinny fellow who looked about 70 but was still very active and full of zap, and a very fluent and fast talker, in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. He grabbed my hands and pressed them cordially saying, "Lei muksi, fun ying fun ying", meaning "Pastor Lee, Welcome, Welcome".


"I am sorry I do not speak Cantonese."


"What about Mandarin", he asked.


"Hardly any," I said, "just a few words in Mandarin and Hokkienese, like "Ni hao, ma?", "Ni jiao shen meh mingzi?", "Wo hen kaosing, jian dao, ni!", "Chia peng, bo?", "Gwa asi Hokkian lang." Those are a few words I learned from my neighbours when I was small.


He said: "Pastor Lee. That is excellent.  You have a good foundation already. I am sure it won't difficult for you to master it in a short time if you live in Macao. He pressed on with, "Do you speak Portuguese?   He looked as if he expected me to give him an affirmative answer on this third question but I replied, "I do not speak Portuguese, only Dutch, a little German and a few words in French, in Spanish and perhaps one or two words in Portuguese such as Senhor, Senhora, testa, tenda, kadera, meja, bandera, pasiar, lenso, panada, kabesa, pombo, tuturuga, tamako, capeo, domingo, nyora, maitua, paitua, soldadu, sapatu, lampu, gereja, sekola ..."


I was not able to finish pronouncing all those words in the Manadoneselanguage, which I had learned were Portuguese words, when he interrupted me saying,   "That is enough Pastor Lee, are you going to recite the wholePortuguese dictionary to me?"  Then he continued, "You know, I was born in Macao, and I hold a Portuguese passport, but the only thing I can say is, 'Obrigado, Senhor' but you know so much.  Thank God, you are the answer to our prayers."


Apparently they had been trying to find a minister who could double as an English teacher, he had to be Chinese and to understand the Portuguese language. I told him that those Portuguese words were actually Manadonese and I did not think I could use it talking to Portuguese people.


But he did not want to accept my excuse and explanation.  He told me that they had been looking for a person like me.  It was true that they had several candidates from Brazil who could speak Portuguese fluently but they did not fulfill the other requirements.  He persuaded me to accept their offer to work as the private secretary of the principal, besides English teacher and chaplain of the proposed secondary school.  And he also asked me to become the pastor of the English congregation of the Macao SDA church. He then told me that I can take Mandarin or Cantonese course at the school's expense.


This Dr Handel Luke seemed to be a person who could never accept no for an answer if he wanted something.  That reminded me of the stories about short people like Napoleon and Hitler, who were very persistent and very clever in achieving their ends. I had to admit the truthfulness of those stories after I got acquainted with Dr Luke.  I asked for some time to think about it and to discuss it with my wife, and after handing me his business card and after giving him the phone number at my wife's place, we separated. Before that he invited me to have lunch with him at a restaurant not far from the Conference office.


After I had started working with him, I found that Dr Handel Luke had the habit of eating very frequently, he could eat five times in 24 hours.  I was later told that he had a short intestine due to previous surgery so he could only eat a little, often, and he would never become fat.  The other strange characteristic of Dr Handel Luke was that he could not bear to remain alone for a long time.  He always liked to have some body to talk with, or to accompany him traveling or going to restaurants.  And this could happen at any time when he felt hungry, sometimes very early in the morning or in the middle of the night. During the first years of working with him, many times I had to be ready to accompany him at such unearthly hours.


The seven years I worked in Macao was the longest time I worked in any one place, and I could see how God is really very wonderful in His love and concern for His people and His work.  These experiences which I had in Macao became a valuable treasure which cannot be stolen from me through out my life.


Dr Luke (Hing Tat) was a really remarkable person who functioned as administrator, evangelist, and educator, which was very admirable.  If you guessed from his name he must be a lover of music, you would not be wrong.  He was a very good musician, playing the piano by ear almost any song in the Adventist Hymnal, and he did not need written music to play.  Almost every school anthem from the five SDA high schools in Hong Kong and Macao were composed by him.  When he preached he never used notes, just with a Bible in his hand he could preach for hours.  Arguing with him you just could not hope ever to win if it was against his opinion or will.  Many times his extremely radical ideas irritated our leaders in the organization but most times they had to admit that he was right after all. This was of course due to his having "eaten more salt" than any other of the workers and he had a mountain of energy that no one else could match. Besides that he seemed to be very thick skinned, he did not know the meaning of shyness or embarrassment and he did not worry about criticism, scoffing or even outright scolding from other people towards him.


His wife was formerly his student, so they had a big difference in age. After he was appointed as a principal of the newly proposed school in Macao, he seemed to be away from his wife most of the time because she was teaching in another Sam Yuk school in Hong Kong.  Besides that his habits which resembled a bat, a nocturnal creature, meant that they were rarely at home together anyway. 


The Sam Yuk SDA school of Macao was actually in operation in 1953, becoming a source of soul winning for our church there, with the parents, students and some teachers who had been baptized.  In 1967 the school was closed because of the Communist uprising in Macao and Hong Kong.  The building and the land were sold to the Macao government, who turned it into an office    The money from that sale was saved in the bank, a total of around  $HK10 million. From 1967 to 1991, for twenty four years there was not a single baptism from that school and our church dwindled down in membership.


In early 1993 when I first set my foot on Macao, there was only a handful of members in the church, the majority of whom were expatriates who were working as labourers such as security guards, drivers, doormen at hotels, English teachers and domestic helpers.  When I had arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1991 and faced just one quarter of the church members and felt so sad, you can imagine my frustration when I first preached at the Macao SDA church and there were only eight people in the church, including the old minister Pastor Chin and his wife, one local member and five Filipinos.  Actually there were about twenty Filipino members but they became disinterested because Pastor Chin, a Chinese Pastor from Sabah, always translated his own sermon from Cantonese to English because there was no one else who could do it for him.


During the first few weeks, I stayed in an apartment which also became the temporary office of the Sam Yuk School in Macao while Dr Luke occupied another apartment in the same building.  The school had only fourteen students, accommodated on the mezzanine floor of the Macao SDA church.  The building was located in a slum area called Fai Chi Kei which means Chopsticks.  That name was given because the place was chock full of tall apartment buildings, averaging 30 storeys each, that looked like chopsticks from afar. Actually in the whole of Macao there are hardly any buildings less than 20 storeys high, except for those occupied by very rich people. Almost all the buildings are apartments and on the ground floor usually used as shops or offices.  That church was also formerly two shops, renovated to become the church.  On the mezzanine floor above were two bedrooms which were converted into class rooms as a temporary school for the fourteen students.


In 1991 the governor of Macao granted a piece of land 16,000 square metres to the SDA church in Macao to build a high school. Before that the Hong Kong Conference had been looking for a piece of land in the city of Macao to resurrect the old school which had been closed for quarter of a century.  In 1990 they found a piece of land which was formerly a factory, measuring 300 square metres, with an asking price of $HKD 3 million.  Actually for a factory that piece of land measuring 15 by 20 metres was quite all right to build 10 storeys high, but for a school that was not according to the requirements where play areas, sports ground and parking were needed. So it was just not good enough.  The Union and Division suggested that they try to find a bigger piece of land.  It seemed impossible to find another piece of land because the total area of Macao at that time was only 24 square kilometres.  Now there are 26 square kilometres of land including thereclaimed area, but still the cost of land in Macao is almost as much as gold.


Then the organization sent Dr Handel Luke to approach the governor of Macao to request assistance to find a piece of land which they could purchase, on which to build a school. They had heard that the governor was planning to renovate the city of Macao and to re-plan it, before it was returned to China in 1999. The governor replied that there were three pieces of land, they were intending to build three new schools or to extend existing schools.  One was granted to the Catholic Institution, Don Bosco, the second piece had been assigned for a new Communist oriented school called Yuet Hua School. There was still another piece of land measuring 16000 square metres for yet another school and if the SDA church had the resources to build it, they would be given it.


When they asked the price, the Governor said that it would be a free grant except that they would have to shoulder the cost of HK$3 million for the cost of reclamation because part of the land was still under water.  But the church would have to make a contract with the government that they would build a school with a minimum of five storeys that would accommodate 1500 students and every part of the building must be according to the specifications given by the government.  They must be willing to accept all the students who could not be accommodated in the other schools because they were expecting the population to increase after the return to Mainland China.  You can imagine the exuberant joy of our administrators when they heard that they could have a piece of land 53 times the size of the land they had wanted to purchase.  Our members in the Hong Kong-Macao conference were overjoyed and believed this was a miracle and the answer to their prayers.


This land was located on Taipa Island off the main coast.   Taipa is one of two islands in the territory of the Macao  Enclave and they are connected with a bridge  The plot of land offered by the governor of Macao was located on the  middle island.  Our organization agreed with the stipulations of the government and a contract was signed with the condition that our church must be able to finish the building within three years or it would be given to another party.  And how this was definitely God's interference and miracles I will continue in the next chapter.













































Chapter 18 Seeking for Pearls in the Slum School of Macao


In Macao City there are 27 different denominations, the biggest of course is the Roman Catholic which consists of different orders.  This is followed by the Lutheran and the Anglican churches.  Then there are the Baptists, also consisting of different organizations.  The Methodists, the Mormons, various Pentecostal groups, the Jehovah’s Witnesses all have congregations, but the smallest of them all and very insignificant is the SDA church.


For that reason when the news spread that the SDA church had been given a piece of land by the government and that they were not even known, as most of the people were not aware of our church in that slum area, as the members are mostly domestic helpers, they protested to the government of Macao.   The governor was reported to have replied, “Are you able to match the SDA’s in the number of schools and hospitals that they operate?”  They could not understand and thought that the governor was only joking, because they knew that we had nothing at all in Macao, and only one or two in the city of Hong Kong.


Here lies the extraordinary talent of Dr Handel Luke.  When he visited the governor in his office, he also handed him a file of documents showing our educational institutions with pictures of the schools around the world.  That is the reason the Macao government was very impressed at the world wide activities of our denomination in education,  that we are second only to the Roman Catholic Church as far as global work is concerned.    Dr Luke -Hing Tat- was a graduate from Andrews University with a PhD in education in 1983.  He had served as a teacher in our organization since he was 18 years old and later he worked as an evangelist and minister in different positions at the conference and union, and had been director of the four different San Yuk middle schools in Hong Kong.  He was responsible for building two of the four schools there and now he was appointed to build up the Sam Yuk Middle School in Macao.  His experience was very wide and varied and I felt very privileged to learn a lot from him during the five years before he completely retired due to his failing health, at the end of 1998.


Dr Handel Luke was an expert in lobbying and public relations.  He was willing to sacrifice his own finances and his energy to achieve what he planned.  Sometimes this caused a headache amongst his superiors in the conference, the union and even the division but most of the time they had to give in, because it would have been difficult to find another person capable of doing his work all those years.    Besides, a lot among the leaders in the administration had been his students in the past.   They regarded him with great respect, in the Asian tradition of having a high regard for their former teacher.


Actually in 1992 the organization did not agree with his plan to start the San Yuk School at Fai Chi Kei (Chopstick Village) with only fourteen students in a classroom in the flat.  But he had his own reasons and asked to be given a budget to conduct the school for one year.   The amount he requested seemed too much to the administrators, but although they were grumbling they had to agree because he was a Portuguese citizen who was doing the negotiating until the granting of the piece of land.   None of them could fill his shoes in working like a whirlwind almost 24/7.


A lot of the budget was used for his traveling expenses between Hong Kong and Macao, entertainment expenses in servicing the people he lobbied, he also bought a lot of gifts, in pamphlet printing, invitations and advertisements of all sorts.  Sometimes he could make two trips back and forth to Hong Kong in 24 hours  The distance from Macao to Hong Kong is only about 60 kilometres and it can be reached by hydrofoil or jetfoil in about one hour.    The jet foil can reach a cruising speed of 80 kilometres per hour.   But if you count the travels to the conference office back and forth by taxi, waiting at the harbour standing in line for the tickets, the average trip would be at least three hours.  Just imagine a 70 year old person doing this kind of a trip for twelve hours a day, it is really an amazing feat.  On top of that, this person had a chronic health problem with his stomach ulcer and his body was just like skin and bone.   It surprised me many times where he got his energy, which took people like us, who were younger and trying to keep up with him, to the end of our tethers.


At the beginning I was very happy to get a boss who liked to travel so much and who was very generous in eating out.  But after several days having to work into the late hours of the night preparing letters and pamphlets and other documents, translating them from Portuguese to English with the help of dictionaries, I felt really very stupid to have accepted that position and felt my eyebrows together with my hair could drop off my head any time.  Not to mention the blisters I had on my feet from walking up and down buildings, and sitting for hours typing letters on the typewriter or computer.


But the worst was when one afternoon he arrived with a document consisting of nine folio sized pages, containing instructions and specifications for the building, in Portuguese, that I had to translate into English within twelve hours because the following morning it had to be taken to the Conference Office and discussed with the school board.  I felt like crying when I read the technical terms in that document while my Portuguese knowledge was just rudimentary and in tatters.  But I could not back out at that point so for the whole night I was struggling between two dictionaries and did not get to sleep until the early morning hours. I had never even read some of those technical terms in English in my life.


I tried very hard to construct the sentences, advancing inch by inch trying to make them comprehensible but God has been really wonderful.  When I was not able to continue in theology at Avondale College and instead had to take a course in linguistics, I was actually very disappointed but the Lord Who knows everything prepared me for the kind of a job of which I had never dreamed.  When I was studying at Macquarie University and took a course in the French language I had also a friend who was from Peru and I was able to learn some Spanish words.   With the help of this, in addition to my background in Dutch and English, I managed to guess most of the words in that document.  By the time I finished the translation I felt as dead a door nail and I slept the next day and all the next night.


Fortunately the school was not yet formally open so we did not follow a strict curriculum and the study period was filled with activities that were not too demanding to us teachers but were pleasant for the students.   It was like a play school where we had games and stories, songs and puzzles.   The recess time was usually stretched out for more than half an hour, where we played volley ball or we took them to the beach not far from the school where we could sit on the benches and have our study program in the open air.


Actually the students that we had during that first year were all rejects from the other schools: they were problem kids mostly from broken families. Their parents were surprised to see how they really liked going to school compared to their former habits in the other schools.  But this is where we can see love can do wonderful things - because we showed our love to these problem kids, their lives changed and they showed new interest in studies.  When we visited their homes their parents testified that in the other schools the teachers never came to visit them and that now their kids seemed to be happier and more enthusiastic in going to school.   This is understandable because in the other schools they had to maintain discipline, and because they had so many students the teachers did not have time to do personal visitations as we did then. 


On Sabbath they were required to have a half day at school,  while at Sam Yuk they only came for two hours to attend worship, where they had a more leisurely program consisting of songs, listening to Bible stories and other activities.  And Dr Luke used this opportunity to make them an advertisement to draw other potential students.  They told their friends how the teachers in San Yuk School were so nice and friendly, they had never been punished and were treated just like members of the family. And so the following year our enrollment increased four times to 56 students although our school was still in the slum area.  In the third school year we had to rent three other shop premises across the street to accommodate the influx of 250 students.  At the beginning of the second year we had the ground breaking ceremony at our land on the island of Taipa, Dr Luke made it a very grand occasion where he invited lion dancers from four different clubs in Macao and set up a big tent and invited a lot of people.  A lot of refreshments were prepared.


I have to tell of the second miracle that happened to our school.  When the reclamation was finished the governor told us that the cost was not only $HK3.5 million but it had swollen to $HK6 million.  But the governor said, “That is all right, we will bear the expenses so you do not have to pay a single cent but you must be sure to build it according to all these specifications and besides that you have to build a bitumen road from your school to the main road.”   That was nearly half a kilometer away and we also needed a reinforced concrete parking lot for 40 cars and buses in front of the school.  Dr Luke and I looked at each other with dismay because you can imagine how much all that construction would cost.   Underground drainage and telephone and electrical cables all had to be installed, which would cost a lot of money.  But again the Lord performed the third miracle, when the governor decided they would also pay the cost of building the asphalt road and the parking area in front of the school.


At the inauguration of the school we were told that the cost of the construction of the school came to a total of $HKD30 million, with a large part of it donated by the Chan Sun foundation, from our member who owned the Crocodile Shirt Factory and also a part came from the 13th Sabbath School overflow offering from all over the world. During the inauguration Dr Luke again held a very big party inviting the government officers, business people and almost every one important in Macao.  When the governor came to open the school he was not too happy to see that our science laboratory was empty, consisting only of shelves.  When he asked Dr Luke what happened he replied that we were still waiting for donations from abroad.  There was the fourth miracle when the governor asked our principal to come to his office the following week and we were given a substantial sum of money to buy laboratory equipment.


In the fourth school year our enrolment reached 500 although we were still using the premises in the slum area and we had to divide the students into two shifts, morning and afternoon. In the following year we started a kindergarten in English because most of the students were Filipino.  At that time Dr Luke assigned my wife Lynn to become the principal of the kindergarten because she had stopped her business in Hong Kong and come to join me in Macao.


During the first year when we had only fourteen students we baptized four of them.  In the following year out of the fifty-six students we were able to baptize ten, plus Miss Yeong Tin Ten.   Miss Yeong was originally from Shanghai and later she became the Dean of Studies.    Baptized together with her was Mr Lim who later became the head of our maintenance department.  Every year we baptized 10 – 15 students and one or two new teachers so our membership increased to a level like thirty years previously in the time of the old school. 


In the fifth year we moved to our new campus and there were 600 students.  At that time Lynn was also asked to become the head of the home economics department of the school.  This was a new department and was well thought of by the community and the government of Macao.  The following year the student number reached 800.  In the sixth year we also a school melodica and recorder band, which I led.  At that time Dr Handel Luke retired and he was replaced by Dr Joseph Lo who was very talented in music, as a professional violinist.  We were often invited by the government to perform during official functions.


The most impressive thing to me was that every morning at 9 am to start school, we had a 15 minute worship, but 10 minutes before 9 the students would be queuing up and pushing each other to try to enter the room.  The parents told us that before that time when they were still in their old schools, they had to be urged and chased by their parents to get to school on time, but now they were chasing their parents to get them to school, sometimes even missing their breakfast.


Chapter 19 Tracing the footsteps of the old Missionary Pioneers


Sometimes a door closed in front of our noses is an opportunity for God to open other windows or doors for us.  In 1991 before I was recruited to Malaysia I had the privilege of getting acquainted with an SDA business man from Australia who used to attend services at Jakarta International SDA church.  This man, whom I will call Tom, was a Spaniard and a former pilot of Air Spain.  At that time he was the CEO of an international company in Jakarta. 


Tom was there to try to win a tender from the Indonesian Government in major building construction in Indonesia and especially in the capital city of Jakarta.  His company had an extraordinarily large financial backing to bid for giant projects.  At that time it seemed that the project was sure to fall into their hands, judging from all the documents and meetings so far between him and the relevant government officers in Jakarta.  It was a plan for a mega mall, first class hotels, golf courses and condominiums and luxurious shopping centres and offices in the former Indonesian Air Force Base south of Jakarta.  I was eye witness to several very important meetings involving him and some high ranking officers.  He regarded me as his private secretary and translator and I have read several documents including memorandums of understanding and written promises from his boss that he would get one per thousand commission as soon as the MOU on a $2.8 billion contract was signed by the President.   He heard me preach once at the church and he was very sympathetic towards me and he often invited me to come to his residence. He had been recently baptized as an Adventist, so every weekend I was there having Bible studies with him, in a luxurious house in one of the posh areas of the city.   Several times he had to attend a meeting with his superiors in Manila, and left the house in the care of my wife and me.  Once he was invited to preach at the Jelambar SDA church with me as his translator and after the service we were having a pot luck lunch in the adjoining church school.  The building was almost falling down and he remarked that it was dangerous.  The elder of the church said that they were just awaiting sufficient finance to renovate.  Tom immediately donated $US5000 for the project.  He had also bought me a computer and gave me some money to go to Singapore with my wife to try to publish an SDA business and services directory for the Far Eastern Division.


At that time the director of the Adventist Service Industries was Pastor Inada, from Japan.  When he visited Jakarta, my wife and I took him, with Tom, and spent several days in a summer resort villa up in the mountain area of Puncak.  The resort was built on 2.5 hectares and included fifteen bedrooms in a very beautifully landscaped garden, complete with large swimming pool, mini zoo and a pergola containing a billiard table, tennis and basketball courts.  That house was usually empty during the week, occupied at weekends by the family, their relatives or friends.     The caretaker jokingly said that we could each occupy two rooms because there were eight bedrooms in the main building and they were all empty.  It looked as if this luxurious private hotel was built only for the servants and caretakers most of the time.


Tom was very interested in helping to promote the evangelistic work in the Far Eastern Division.  He indicated that he would dedicate most of the money he was going to receive as his first lump sum payment of a total $US28 million, and he said that I should start a foundation as a supporting ministry to preach the gospel.  Later if his business was successful he would continue to support me for more extended outreach projects.  I had been offered the use of a car by one church member because he took pity on my always going around using public transport.  He had three cars, one for his wife, one for himself and another vehicle that was supplied by his company.  So he said that I should use the Mitsubishi Lancer and he would take care of all the expenses.  I refused his offer, thanking him for his generosity, but saying that I preferred to continue to use public transport as Jakarta is very congested and it can be difficult to get parking.  Tom was very impressed and said that he had never known any one quite like me, as other people would not refuse that generous an offer.  If it was possible most would ask for the fuel to be supplied also!    He suggested that I write my sermons in the Indonesian language and distribute them freely to my fellow workers and elders in Indonesia.  He also bought me a tape recorder to record my sermons onto cassettes so they could be distributed into the churches.  But apparently the Lord did not think it was good for me because I can imagine what would have happened if Tom had been successful and I got hold of that amount of money.  I might have become a lost soul or have been a victim of some crooks in Jakarta.  Certainly God knows the best for us.  The project failed and Tom had to leave the country.


After He closed the door in Jakarta the Lord seemed to open the door in Kuala Lumpur and from there, one in Macao.  I was not able to gain a better earthly treasure in those places but instead  I reaped a richer reward in souls rescued from the bondage of the devil, especially in the country known as the gambling capital of Asia.  Besides enjoying a peaceful and quiet life serving the Lord in Macao, I also received some knowledge that I value more than any earthly riches, plus extraordinary experiences during my seven year stay in the ‘worst city in the world’, with its gambling associated crime.


The situation has improved under Chinese control, in times that are now very prosperous, there is less extortion of protection money although the number of casinos has risen and many people get their income from the gambling industry.   Many people feel no need at all of God, but there are still souls there waiting to be claimed as jewels for the Kingdom of Heaven.


I was reminded of the words about the Apostle Paul in Acts 16: 6-10.   “Paul and his companions travelled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Spirit from preaching in Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.   So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.  During the night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”.  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready .at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”


So I felt that I had called by the Lord not to stay in Jakarta but to preach in Macaodonia.


From the text above we can see that Paul wanted to go to preach in Turkey but the Holy Spirit sent him to Greece.  And there he was successful in winning a lot of souls.  Sometimes we face the same situation without realizing it.  We may think that we are working according to His plan, and are frustrated when we do not get what we think is good for us.  Sometimes we are called to a place that looks very barren, but if dedicate ourselves fully to Him we should not think the situation hopeless or the work too small or insignificant to do with all our heart.


The city of Macao in 1992 was only 24 sq km in area, including the two adjacent islands.  There were already fifteen casinos at that time, and large horse racing and greyhound racing tracks.  Every year there is the Macao Grand Prix which attracts a lot of tourists for that week. Now the number of casinos has doubled, with investment from giant gambling companies like Sands owned by Las Vegas tycoons, Steve Wynns, MGM, and Galaxy casinos and those already operating belonging to the richest man in Macao, Mr Stanley Ho, and other facilities.


In the 1990’s the average income of the people of Macao was $HK6000 per month, whereas in its twin city Zhouhai which lies just across the border in the Republic of China, the average income was only RMB500, less than one tenth as much.  So it is not surprising that a lot of the people in Macao had a second or even third wife across the border in China, which they could reach by walking across, only showing their Macao ID card.


I am telling you this to show what kind of students we had in our school in Macao.  Most of them came from broken families, and were brought up in a gambling atmosphere which caused more than half the population to become addicted and to lead to the neglect of their children.  Besides that the government of Macao had a regulation that the teachers of Macao could not apply corporal punishment to the students, and they subsidised the first ten years of education.  Hence it was very difficult to discipline the school children.   Even in the best schools operated by the Catholics, the teachers complained about the quality of the students in their schools so you can imagine what kind of problems we were collecting as we had to accept the rejects from other schools.  But it was a joy not describable in words, the sweet experience as a chaplain of the Macao SDA High School during those years as I witnessed several of those students who were later baptized into our church.  This also shows how love is a great power that can do many things.


During the first school year when we had only fourteen students we were very close to each other, just like a big family.  Every Sabbath morning they came to worship wearing their school uniform.  We had a Sabbath School program and a simple sermon with stories and then we had a lunch together in the nearby restaurant.  At that time we had only four teachers, a Filipina Miss Elizabeth, Mr Ma Chi Tei from Shanghai, Dr Handel Luke and myself, besides Pastor Chin the pastor of the Cantonese speaking church, and his wife.  I usually taught them English songs while Mr Ma taught them the same songs in Mandarin and Cantonese.  I remember their favorite song was King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Instead of clapping their own hands they would do a high five with their neighbours, and found it so amusing and interesting.

Actually the first year when we had fourteen students and the next year when we had 56, were the best times of all.  We were so closely knit that I was able to get to know every one of them.  But the following year when we had 250 students it was difficult to remember each of them and the relationship between teachers and students changed.   We had to apply more sanctions and discipline to control that number.  During the second year we had two new teachers from overseas come to help us.  One, Miss Sonia, was a British citizen from the United Kingdom, originally from Jamaica, and the other was an Indian young man called Kevin.  Both of them became teachers of English and physical education teachers while I was given the tasks of teaching singing, leading out in the melodica band, and teaching art. I was also the chaplain of the school, responsible for the 15 minute worship every day and for the Sabbath programs.   Sonia had a beautiful British accent and was a very serious young lady, but she sometimes felt insulted when we laughed loudly in the classroom.  She could not understand Cantonese and thought we were laughing at her colour.  This was because my friend Kevin who became close to me had an amazingly humorous spirit and he had an Indian accent and gestures which made it very funny when he spoke.  Besides that the two of us found it easier to learn the Cantonese language, the mother tongue of all the students in that school, so that they felt more at ease with us than with Miss Sonia.


The population of Macao is 97% Cantonese, most of the other 3% are Portuguese descendents with other expatriates including British, Indonesian and Filipinos who come to the gambling capital of Asia to earn their living.


In this city also there are around 500 former Indonesian Chinese who were uprooted from Indonesia during the 1960’s when the government of Indonesia oppressed the Chinese people and prohibited the operation of the Chinese languages schools.  Thus they migrated from Indonesia to China and later came to make Macao their third adopted country.   But although the population of Macao consists of about 2-3 % of Portuguese, all the shops and offices signs and the street signs are written in Portuguese then translated into Chinese underneath.  The currency used in Macao is the Macao pataca, which has almost the same value as the Hong Kong dollar but is only valid in its enclave and its sister city Zhouhai,  from which it is only separated by a swamp and barbed wire border.


In the city of Macao also there is a grave yard for Christian missionaries who were formerly serving in mainland China, including Robert Morrison, besides scores of British sailors and soldiers who formerly served in the Far East, and some Dutch and other Europeans who had worked in the province of Canton.  Non Catholics were not allowed to be buried in mainland China at that time.  The first SDA missionary to the Far East was the well known Abram La Rue, an American citizen who at the age of 65 had a vision of taking the three angels message to Asia.  He was refused by the organization because of his age, but he was so determined he went there as a volunteer, buying his own ticket and with his meager luggage, including several bundles of tracts, he sailed to Hong Kong.  After fourteen years of diligently witnessing for the gospel, in 1902 he was able to witness the baptism of six souls who were all British sailors working in Hong Kong   The following year he died and was buried in Hong Kong, where his grave remains.  It was one year after he died that there were three native Chinese in Canton who were baptized as the first results of the evangelistic effort of that great man, but he did not see it with his own eyes.  So this can be a comfort to us, that we do not have to be disappointed when we cannot see the result of our efforts.  Just look at how many SDA’s we have in all the old Far Eastern Division, about 2 million now.  If Abram La Rue had been disappointed and given up, I do not think our work would have prospered like this.



Chapter 20 Learning Mandarin and finding an unexpected Treasure


After one month of working in Macao, Dr Handel Luke asked if I had started to learn Mandarin or Cantonese.  I told him that I did not have time to learn even one word because of the translation work that never finished. He told me to go and join a course offered in one of several schools, in the afternoon or evening. So I found one located not far from where I stayed, on the twenty fifth floor above the church.


I attended the course for a month but found it was very boring. For more than one week we learned how to pronounce the different intonations of the Cantonese language.  There are nine levels of intonation in that language.   It looked like mission impossible to accomplish since they do not use a conventional alphabet.  The Chinese writings are mostly pictographs so you need to learn every word, unlike the other languages I had been able to master so far.  So besides learning to pronounce a particular word we also had to memorise how to intonate it properly. Otherwise we could end up swearing at people unintentionally, or saying something that would make people laugh at our expense.  


One day I wanted to practise what I had learnt by saying to a young lady tending her shop, “Wo ke yi wen ni, ma?”  meaning, “May I ask you a question?”  But I intonated the word ask wrongly so the sentence became, “May I kiss you?”   The young lady blushed and looked at me with eyes as if she was going to swallow me alive.  Then I realized that I had made a wrong intonation so I gave up and spoke in very simple English. 


Because it is so very different from other languages that I had learned in the past, I did not progress too far.  Since I had decided to learn how to read and write as well as how to speak, I spent a long time practising writing the words.  Take for instance the word I or me which looks likes the scratches of a chicken in the dust, and after practising hundreds of times,  several days later I had forgotten it.


About two months later I went to Hong Kong to extend my visa and I visited a YMCA book shop at Tsin Tsa Tsui.   I asked the shop keeper if there was a book which could give me a short cut on how to learn to read and write Chinese characters.  These are the same in Mandarin and Cantonese although the pronunciation is different.  She replied that she did not know of any such book and it takes a long time even for native born Chinese children to learn to read and write, at least six years to be able to read a simple article in the newspaper.


But then she asked me if I were a Christian.  I replied in the affirmative so she showed me a book entitled The Discovery of Genesis, by Dr Ethel Nelson and Pastor C H Kang.  She said that in that book the writers  pointed out how the Chinese writings originally consisted of simple pictures just like the Egyptian hieroglyphs, and that it contained the same story as we can find in the book of Genesis chapters one through eleven.   I was very incredulous and laughed at what she said and I told her that it was impossible.


Everybody knows that there is no relationship between the ancient Hebrews and the ancient Chinese who have always been idol worshippers, and that the Christian religion was introduced to China just a few centuries ago.   And I know that the Chinese people do not believe in such things as creation.  They believe in re-incarnation and karma or fate.  Whatever you do, will come back to you, so do good and hope that you will be reincarnated as a nobler creature.


She replied that she was also doubtful before she read that book, but after she read it she could understand how all the nations in the beginning came from one ancestor.  And then I suddenly remembered the story of the building of the tower of Babel and how the language of the people was confused, and they separated to different nations to all corners of the earth.  Then it sounded very logical to me, something which I could not see at all in the past.   Also written by the same author there was another book entitled Genesis and the Mystery Confucius could not solve.


I bought both books and on my way home to Macao I started to read one of the books and I was so fascinated that I could not put it down until I finished.  In fact I became very obsessed in trying to find out more about the book and I was more surprised to find out that the author was a medical doctor, an American citizen who formerly served as a pathologist at our Bangkok Sanitarium and Hospital.


Twenty years prior to that when Dr Nelson was still serving in Bangkok she met several Chinese people in the international church and they were discussing the Chinese character for the word boat. This consists of the components  ‘canoe’ plus ‘eight’ plus ‘mouth’; in other words a boat in the Chinese language is a canoe with eight persons as its passengers.   So they discussed that possibly the Chinese people got the knowledge of the flood and the ark from the same ancestor.  This interested Ethel Nelson and she later contacted Pr Kang who was a retired minister in Singapore.  After corresponding for some time they finally met after she returned to the United States.  Just before Pr Kang passed away she was able to finish the book and publish it for the first time in 1979.  She researched how the Chinese writings originated about the same time or earlier than the time of Abraham.   She was convinced that the Chinese people were direct descendents of one of the three sons of Noah and that is the reason that they had the same faith as the Hebrews about God and the creation of heaven and earth.


This was further proved by the archeological discovery at the ancient graveyards in Anyang, in China, where they discovered the oracle bones which according to the archeologists must be at least 3500 years old and the inscriptions on those bones and turtle shells were the prototypes of the Chinese writing and can still be traced in the present Chinese characters.


I am including below a picture of one of the tortoise shells with the ancient inscriptions.   My son Victor has been to Anyang twice and has taken pictures and films of these relics.    He went there with Dr Samuel Wang, a former university student who was almost killed during the Tiananmen uprising but was converted and became SDA,   baptised by Pr David Lin before he migrated to the United States.  He and Dr Ethel Nelson continued the research and as a result published several more books about this topic.    These books have been widely distributed through out the world and even in China and have become the means of the conversion of many Chinese people.


I had the privilege of translating for Samuel Wang and Ethel Nelson who conducted a short seminar in Bali just at the time of the Bali bombing, although I first met Dr Nelson in Singapore in 1996 when I visited my son who was working in Singapore at that time.  Coincidentally Dr Nelson and Dr Wang were conducting a seminar at the Calvary Baptist Church in that city.  She invited me to meet her and we had a lengthy discussion about her writing.


At first my son Victor was not convinced when I told him about the contents of the book.   After we met Dr Nelson and Dr Wang and he was the MC for their seminar in Jakarta once, he became more interested and made the trip to China, Taiwan and the United States to make his film.  He also met Professor Lickey of Walla Walla College, an expert in ancient Sumerian scripts who testified that it is obvious that there is a very close connection between the ancient Sumerian writings and the ancient Chinese writings.


After reading the book suddenly I got an idea that if it were so, we could learn how to read and write these Chinese characters if we could master the basic characters which were used in the earliest times.  I found that there are 214 of these basic characters which they call the radicals.   After studying and practising for 6 months I was able to memorise around 900 Chinese words and I was able to use it in communication with my students or people from China who had no English knowledge at all. 


Besides that I was able to witness to a lot of people from different denominations about the proof that the God who inspired the Bible writers must have inspired the Chinese ancestors in inventing their language and writings.  And I was more convinced about the story of creation as a literal narration of the beginning of life on this earth.    I can see very clearly how God inspired those ancient Chinese ancestors to invent those characters as a testimony of the authenticity of the Bible.    The story of creation of Adam from earth, the Garden of Eden as their first home and how God created his wife from his rib was very clearly described in the Chinese characters.  Further we can see the temptation and fall of man by the trickery of the devil using the serpent as a medium, how Abel was killed by his elder brother, the story of the flood and building of the Tower of Babel where the language was confused and the nations were scattered all over the world.  This can be seen in the Chinese writings which are already 4000 years old.


What I got in Macao as the result of studying the Chinese language was an opportunity to witness in many places and different kinds of societies and denominations.  Once I was invited to speak to an elite group, The Mission Club, consisting of the top business people in Jakarta, which held its meeting at the Hilton Hotel Ballroom.  I spoke about the origin of the Chinese characters and showed how it is exactly the same story as we find in the book of Genesis, proving that they were inspired by the same God Who moved the prophets to write the Bible.   A minister from the Protestant church who sat beside me remarked, “If it is true that the Chinese people knew and worshipped Jehovah as you say, why did God not choose them instead of the Israelites?”  I understood why he did not believe me since he had never read the books of Ethel Nelson and Samuel Wang, and so did not have the opportunity to search about these things as I had done.


I personally believe that if the Chinese people had been faithful until now and had not become backsliders and idol worshippers, they would have been the chosen people.  But the fact of the matter is, according to history, they became backsliders and worshipped idols and their ancestors’ spirits, and that is the reason God chose Abraham and his descendents to become the chosen people -and from them came the Messiah.  But one thing is sure, God has preserved these Chinese writings until today as a witness to the authenticity of His word in the Bible.   In the Chinese characters there are 214 basic words, the radicals, more than half show how the ancestors of the Chinese people must have heard of the story of creation from the children of Noah, and it could have been from Noah himself.  Noah lived for 350 years after the Flood, whereas the Chinese kingdom started 150 years after the Flood.


The character for God which is Shang Di consists of the components, ‘above’, plus ‘emperor’.  Thus we can see on the oracle bones that the word for emperor or king consisting of 3 triangles mounted upon a pole and at the lower end it is like a 3 branched fork indicating roots like those of a tree.  In the Chinese a triangle, a square or a semicircle means a mouth and it can also mean a person.  So that means that Shang Di or God is the King above all kings, and has three personalities.   The word ‘to create’ or Zao, consists of ‘breath’ (of life) plus ‘earth’ plus ‘mouth’ plus ‘moving’ or ‘walking’.  This is a description of how God created man from the earth and put the breath of life into his nostrils, using His mouth, so that the piece of earth became a person who could move or walk right away.


On another occasion I was invited to conduct a 3 night seminar at the auditorium of a bank called Bank Dewa Ruci which was also used as a meeting place for the Bethel Jordan River Church, a charismatic group.  That meeting was sponsored by our SDA church in Jelambar Jakarta.  And I used the theme FACT (Fenomena : Ancient Chinese Characters Confirm Christian Concepts True).   Attended by an audience consisting of mostly non SDAs, many testified that their faith had been strengthened by attending the three nights of meetings.  There were three ladies who testified in letters to me, that they were still doubtful about the Bible after studying it for some time, but after attending the meetings they made a decision to surrender and be baptised.   A few years ago while I was in Jakarta a former pilot of the Peoples Republic of China Airforce whom I had taught about this in Macao was planning to be baptised in the Chinese Protestant church and he insisted that I conduct the baptism.  But of course it was something that I could not do and he almost refused to be baptised until I persuaded him, and finally he was baptised into that church.


The books of Ethel Nelson have also been translated into the Indonesian language and are available in the bookshops. 


Chapter 21 Invited as Guest Preacher in Yi Lung Hau Baptist Church


When I was serving in Macao, during the first few years my wife was doing business in Hong Kong so we were separated most of the time.  We usually met once a fortnight or sometimes once a month. 

Because I felt lonesome on Sunday, not having to work as on weekdays and Sabbath, I decided to attend the church services at the Yi Lung Hau Baptist church English congregation.  I remembered when I was young I used to attend my grandmother’s Baptist church in Indonesia, that their hymns were the same as ours and the way they conducted their services were very similar to our SDA services.  After attending the meeting several times the elder asked about my work.  I told him that I was a minister and doubled as an English teacher at the Sam Yuk Middle School.


At that time they did not have a pastor because the former pastor had returned to the United States and they were waiting for a replacement.  They were served by ministers from other denominations.  When the elder found out that I was actually the son of a Pentecostal minister and the grandson of a Baptist church member they asked me if I would like to preach once a month in their church, as long as I did not preach the SDA doctrines.  I told him that he did not have to be afraid of that because of my background, and I would only preach about Christ and the cross.  They were very happy and so I was scheduled to preach once a month for almost a year.


After several months of preaching in that church I heard that there was an Indonesian Baptist church somewhere in the city, consisting of Indonesians who were formerly migrants to mainland China, and that they worshipped in the afternoon between 2 and 4 on the fourteenth floor of an apartment building in Macao and that was the reason I had never seen them.   One afternoon I received an invitation to attend a Christmas program in Indonesian in their church so I found out their address.


I went to the meeting and found that their minister was an Indonesian from the charismatic church.   He had been a missionary in mainland China, but had been deported and moved to Macao.    He and his wife were very ambitious and worked hard to turn that Baptist church into a Pentecostal church.  He also asked me to preach once a month as well as contributing special music, leading out in prayer and in Bible studies.  But after some time they realized that I was a tough nut to crack.    They showed their impatience and jealousy when the members showed more interest listening to my sermons because I did not put so much fire into my presentations, so they became cold towards me and later on stopped giving me a chance to preach.  So I stopped attending that church.  Besides that we had more students in our school and I had more preparation for my classes.


But two years later the majority of the members came to visit me and requested that I become the pastor of their proposed new congregation.  I was very moved by the condition of these members who looked like the Biblical lost sheep without a shepherd.  I revealed this to Dr Handel Luke and asked his opinion about what I should do, because I was actually employed by the school.   Dr Handel Luke was also acting as a senior pastor for both the English and Cantonese SDA churches in Macao.  Because the group was still looking for a place to worship, I suggested to them that we use the English SDA church in Macao because it was not used on Sunday anyway.   Dr Luke being a true evangelist at heart said that it was difficult to conduct an evangelistic effort and expect non Adventists to come to attend,  so this was a very rare opportunity with their coming as a group asking me as an SDA minister to lead them out.   He fully agreed and supported me and said “Go ahead” and wished me God’s full blessings.


So we started our company meeting every Sunday afternoon from 4 till 6 pm at our English SDA church premises.    We decided to call ourselves the Indonesian Christian Fellowship of Macao.   The program consisted of a song service, prayer and a full one hour sermon in Indonesian.   Most of the members still attended the Cantonese service of their own churches like the Baptist Church, Pentecostal or Assembly of God, and one or two members of the Roman Catholic church.  The rest did not attend church regularly but since they were longing to for the opportunity to meet and talk in Indonesian, they joined us and the group later on had an average of twenty-five members and we felt like a big family.


When I attended the Yi Lung Hau Baptist church I met a family who were formerly from Surabaya.  Mr and Mrs Boen asked about my parents and I told them that my grandmother’s maiden name was actually Boen, but because she was sickly when she was small another family adopted her and gave her the name of Tan Loei Nio, following the surname of her adoptive parents.


Now two years later Mr Boen suddenly remembered that conversation and said “There are only a few people with the surname Boen in Indonesia and most of them came from a small town called Moi Yen.”  He asked me if my grandmother came from Bangka, an island near Singapore, and if her ancestors also came from Moi Yen.  I replied that I did not know about this because my grandmother had passed away and she never told me about her background.  The only thing I knew was that her younger brother’s name was Boen Kien Sioe and that they were Hakkas.   He suddenly brightened up and said in that case, we must be related because most Indonesians with the surname of Boen originally came from the same place.    He asked me further if my grandmother was tall and skinny and if she had two brothers who studied in Bandung Technical University to become civil engineers.  I replied that it was true my grandmother was very skinny, like a telephone pole, and that she had two brothers Boen Kien Sioe and Boen Yoek Sioe , both of whom were civil engineers and who were engaged in building construction in Bandung.  The son of Boen Kien Sioe, Boen Kwet Nyan was also a civil engineer and worked together with his father in their building construction company and Boen Kwet Nyan had four children.  Three of them were civil engineers, the other a medical doctor.


Mr Boen Kien Hiong suddenly clapped me on the back and said, “Hey if that is so we are of one ancestor and you have to call me Uncle.”    From that time we became very close to each other and I was frequently invited to their home.  Mrs Boen is an excellent cook and I learned a lot of recipes from her.    And although my wife was mostly separated from me living in Hong Kong, I was very comforted because of the kindness and friendliness of this family.


Later I found out that there was another brother of Mr Boen, called Boen Kien Liong, who also lived in Macao and who was formerly a pilot for the Peoples Republic of China’s Air Force.  His wife, a Christian, tried very hard to get him to come to church, but he would never come.  But when he heard there was an Indonesian Christian Fellowship pastured by his own grandnephew he decided to join us too.  Once a month we had a pot luck at the church, or at one of the restaurants in Macao, where we could also sing Indonesian karaoke for the sake of nostalgia.


During the two years they heard practically  everything about our doctrine but they were very hard to convert into Adventism, only five of them were finally baptised and joined the Cantonese SDA church after we left.     As the Bible says we have to be ready to share our faith any time and leave the result to the Lord, when the time comes.  Remember the experience of Abram La Rue who after working fourteen years fruitlessly and who finally died without seeing a single conversion from the native Chinese, but only 6 British sailors baptised from his work in Hong Kong.   Now we can see around 2 million SDA members in the Far East.


And Lynn joined me later and became the head of the home economics department.


Of all my experiences working for Sam Yuk School, I just want to mention one more.  As I mentioned before, the students who came to our school were perhaps the most difficult because they came from broken families and had parents who were addicted gamblers   This is not surprising because they saw some foreigners coming to Macao return with a lot of money which they had won in the casinos, but they did not realize that the lucky ones were only a small percentage compared to those who came with a lot of money and returned penniless.  On top of that there were several who left a big debt and later faced problems because they were pressured by gangsters to repay their debt with colossal interest.   Every one was aware that not to repay the debts was to endanger their lives and this was a warning to everyone not to be greedy.


That is why, although God put it as the last commandment in His law, the foundation of a happy life is not to covet what is not ours.  That was also the main reason for the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden.  The lesson is always the same, that we should be satisfied with what God has given us.  He knows how to give the best to us and as the Spirit of Prophecy advises we should avoid debt as leprosy.  If we are strangled by debt it will be very easy for the devil to tempt us to do something sinful to try to clear the debt.   We never want to try to keep up with the Jones if it means running into debt.


Returning to my students, sometimes while teachers were writing something on the black board, some naughty students were gambling behind the class, tossing coins or using cards or playing games with pointed fingers.  There was a sanction that if the teacher found them gambling, we were allowed to confiscate all the money used in the gambling.  One day I was very annoyed because they were very noisy in class.  Some of them had not done their home work.   One of the leaders of the troublemakers was called Tin Kai, which means in Cantonese   Heavenly Village, but his actions were not from there.    I asked for his homework but he replied that he had forgotten to do it, then when I turned my back to write something on the board I suddenly turned around to find him sitting cross legged on the floor behind the last row of the desks I was very angry and told him to return to his seat.  A few minutes later when I looked at him I found him chewing a piece of cake, which was against the school regulations. So in my anger I told him to leave the class room until I called him back.   In cases like this the student had to stand near the door so that he could still listen to the lesson and then just before the end of the class he would be called back so he could listen to the announcements and receive his marked books.


But that day I forgot all about him at all, so till the end of the class he was still standing there.   When I came out he was staring at me like an angry dog.  When I was just in front of him, he looked as if he was going to spit into my face.  So I made a reflex action trying to defend myself and unintentionally hit him on the face.   His lips were cut and bleeding.  That created quite a commotion at the school. Several other students reported the incident to the principal and I was called to his office together with the teacher who was in charge of school discipline.. They asked what had happened and I told them what had really happened, but they were a little worried.


There had been a similar incident in another school where the students who hated the teacher purposely made as if there was an accident and the teacher fell from the top of the stairs and he received a bad head injury.  In a different school, the students retaliated against a teacher they did not like,  stole his car and pushed it into the swamp.  There was yet another story about a teacher who was beaten by some gangsters, hired by the students who hated him.   But the worst was a teacher who was killed by a student whom he had disciplined.   But actually the main reason for concern was that the teachers knew that some of the parents of these trouble makers were connected with the Triad mafias which were dreaded even by the Macao police.    Besides that they said that if this was reported to the government I could face a real problem and might be deported from Macao because the law was against corporal punishment.


That night I could not sleep and prayed to the Lord that He would interfere if He still wanted me to work in Macao.  The following morning while teaching in the first period I received a note from the principal telling me to appear in his office after the end of the class.  I could guess what was happening.  It was obvious that the father of the boy whom I had disciplined was there.  So after I finished teaching I went to the principal’s office and Dr Luke seemed to be a little worried.  I knew that it was serious. He told me that he had tried to calm down the father and to explain that this was a misunderstanding and was not intentional.  He told him that actually I was quite a patient minister and teacher and loved the students.  I was no longer a young man, at that time I was in my mid fifties.  He explained that as Christians we did not believe in hatred but in fact we had to love even our enemies and that if someone hit us on the left cheek we had to give them the right cheek.  I thanked him for what he had done and said that I have never used my martial arts skills in this way before.    Dr Luke calmed down when he heard what I said and explained that he had apologized on my behalf and on behalf of the school and said that the school was responsible, but the man was not happy and still wanted to see me.


So I went into the office and saw a man who looked more like a gorilla.  He had a crew cut which made his neck and body look very powerful, his face was dark and I could see some scars there.     His hand was almost as big as my hips.  He looked at me with red eyes and showed great belligerence.  I nodded to him and said “Lei ho, Lo Pan” which means “Good morning, Boss.”    He did not reply but only grunted.  After looking at me from the top of my head to the tip of my toe and back again to my head, he stared at my eyes as if he was going to swallow me alive.  Even Dr Luke was intimidated and forgot to introduce us for a little while.  Eventually he said, “Mr. Sang, this is Pastor Lee, and Pastor Lee this is Mr. Sang”.


So I started to say that I was very sorry about what had happened and Dr Luke was about to translate into Cantonese when the man grunted and said, “That is all right, I can speak English.”   Apparently he had worked in Hong Kong before and probably he was in the police force during the British rule.  I told him what had really happened, that it was only a reflex action which I had never done before.  Apparently the Holy Spirit touched his heart and I had a feeling that he only wanted to see what kind of a person had dared to hit his son.  When he saw that I was only a medium sized person and did not look like a boxer, he calmed down.  After I had told him all that had happened he inhaled deeply, turned to his son and said something like, “It is your fault.  Next time if things like this happen again, when you come back home, I will give you a lesson you will not forget.   Now shake hands with Pr Lee and apologise to him.”


You can be sure I offered a thankful prayer to the Lord.  When I came out several teachers were waiting, including the security people, because they were all very worried about what could have happened.  And they were surprised to see the burly man who was so angry before, was now smiling when he saw me put my arm around his son’s shoulders and we walked together to the class.


 Later when we had a farewell meeting from by the school, that boy who had previously left our school to join the Macao Police Academy was also present.  He was in police uniform together with two of his friends who were also former students of our school.  When we were about to depart he hugged me and kissed my cheek and said “Thank you, Pastor Lee, for what you have taught me.  God bless you, Yat Lu Sun Fong”.  (Meaning “May you have good winds on your journey.”)


I was very touched, and hugged him back, saying “And thanks to you too, my friend, I hope to meet you again in heaven, OK.”



Chapter 22 – Doubling as Pastor at the Interdenominational Church and SDA church of Macao


My service in Macao as chaplain of our Sam Yuk Middle School, as the pastor of the English congregation of the SDA church of Macao and as the pastor of the Interdenominational Fellowship of Indonesian Christians was the most memorable in my life.


In the Interdenominational Fellowship the members were mostly elderly people so I could not depend on any assistance at all from them.  And every Sunday I had to be a one man band, doing the song service, praying, preaching and even cleaning the meeting room.   It was actually a very tiring job but quite satisfying to think that these people were coming to our church to listen to SDA doctrines interspersed into the sermons from an SDA minister and they paid their offerings which we put into the coffers of the local church.     In the English congregation all the members were well educated Filipinos and they were holding at least a BA degree and some of them had Masters degrees.    So the services were very interesting and even I enjoyed coming to preach and listening to the programs they presented.  The only thing I had to do was to preach.


The same thing happened in the Sam Yuk School where I was really very relaxed.  I did not have to preach every Sabbath, often I had only to conduct the song service, usually assisted by Mr Ma Chi Tei, the school business manager who led the songs in Cantonese or Mandarin.    This Sam Yuk School was a pure mission school where the students were all from non SDA families; a few were later baptised into our church.  This was like an oasis in the middle of the desert of the gambling capital of Asia, which we can perhaps compare to Sodom and Gomorrah.  Imagine the thrill to witness these children who came from parents who had never heard about Jesus, who only knew how to worship the god of fortune or their ancestors’ spirits.   After they attended our school they praised God and Jesus’ name every day in English and Cantonese.  Several times our choir and school band were invited to present musical items in front of the Parliament Building , or the Exhibition Centre, and even at the Sports Stadium of Macao.


Sabbath was the busiest day for us.  Starting at 9 o’clock we had worship for the whole school, in the Auditorium for the Cantonese speaking people, and in the music room with a capacity of 200 we had the Filipino students worshipping in English and both finished at 11.  Then we continued at the Multi-Purpose Youth Gospel Activity Centre, which accommodated 150, and was usually attended by those who have been baptised, teachers and church members from the Cantonese group   After lunch in the new premises Dr Joseph Lo the new director used to lead them in music practice and a Pathfinders program.


While they had their Pathfinder program, I usually slipped off to the old church at Fai Chi Kei where the English speaking congregation started their service from 4 – 7 pm.  This was attended mostly by Filipinos.  Often after this formal service we went to one of the member’s apartment, frequently for a birthday celebration or some other festivity.   This was the only day they had a chance to meet and they made the most of it.   Quite often we returned home at midnight.


This is very ironic since Macao is nicknamed as Sin Capital of the oriental world, and yet the religious activities in which I participated boosted my spirit to its summit, compared to the rest of my life’s experience.  Every day I was in a worship atmosphere for about six hours a day and on Sabbath it could last for twelve hours from 9 am till almost midnight, only interspersed with a lunch break or tea break.    This is understandable when we think that those Filipino labourers had their only day off from Sabbath to Sunday, and had to return to work at midday on Sunday. That was the reason that Sabbath worship from 3 pm until almost midnight was considered as luxury.  Another reason they could not worship in the morning, was in the past the church was used by the Cantonese congregation in Sabbath morning.  But even later after the new school building was completed they still continued their old habits of worshipping on Sabbath afternoon almost to midnight.


Last August I went to Macao to try to look for them but I found out that our former church premises had been turned into a mini-market.   The next day there was a Typhoon Grade 8 and we were isolated in our hotel room, unable to meet them at all.  The people of Macao and Hong Kong are very smart because by employing those Filipinos, they have very cheap labour doubling as domestic helpers and babysitters and free English teachers for their kids.  As I mentioned earlier these people all have at least bachelors degrees but they could not find jobs at home.  Just imagine how much we would have to pay if we employed these qualified domestic helpers in Australia and they are on call 24 hours a day. six days a week.  That is the pitiful situation of some of our members in that city and for them the Sabbath rest was really a foretaste of paradise.


To me it was an extra job preaching and giving Bible studies and if there was a celebration for a special occasion on Saturday night I also had to take part in their programs followed by a big dinner and ended many times with games until midnight. Usually the following Sunday morning they took the opportunity to go shopping or relax in the parks or along the waterfront.    I usually went with my uncle’s family to attend the Yi Lung Hau Baptist church, starting with the English program from 8 till 10, then the Cantonese from 10 to 12, followed by a potluck in the church.


Some of my colleagues who knew that I was so keen in attending these extracurricular activities because my wife lived separately in Hong Kong, used to tease me by saying “Such is life without a wife”.    They did not realize that I could understand the spiritual life of the early Christian church as described in The Acts of The Apostles, where they worshipped daily, and these are golden memories which can never be taken from me.




Chapter 23  Intermezzo –Tour Around Macao from your Armchair


For those who have never visited Macao, in this chapter I want to give you an eagle eye report about Macao, so that you can vicariously experience the city as a tourist. while enjoying the comfort of your home and your armchair.


The name of Macao was actually the result of a misunderstanding.  When the first Portuguese conquistadores landed on the peninsula, which was just a fishing village at that time, they came to a shrine dedicated to the worship of the goddess A-Ma.   This goddess was venerated by the fisherman as the protector of sailors, and in the Cantonese language the temple is called A-Ma Kao.   When these newcomers asked the name of the place where they had landed, the local people misunderstood them and thought that they were asking the name of the temple where they were standing.  And so they replied “A-Ma Kao”.    So from that time on the newcomers always referred to the place as Macao.


In the beginning the area of Macao was only three square kilometres  and then later the islands of Taipa and Coloane were added to its territory and it became seventeen square kilometres.   After reclamation work in the river mouth the present total land area is 24 square kilometres.  The municipality of Macao has adopted the façade of St Paul’s Cathedral as its symbol.  The church was built in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese missionaries, but was burned down and only the façade remains standing. 


In the centre of the city there is a small area which is used as the city square, located across from the Leal Senado (Parliament).  The building was constructed with a mixture of Portuguese and Chinese architecture.  The square is not very big but for a city with a population of only 500 000, this is quite adequate


This is where the national celebrations are usually held and in this picture you can see the celebrations for the Chinese New Year.   Here you can see the dragon dance where two dragons form a circle with their long bodies and in this celebration usually they give out the red packets containing money and printed on the envelope is the word Fu which means blessing or happiness or good fortune as you can see in the picture. 


Actually the character “Fu” consists of the components ‘God’ +’one mouth/person’ +’garden/field/farm’. So according the ancestors of the Chinese people, a single person standing beside God means happiness or blessing.  Is that not what is the theme of the Bible?   Adam was the happiest person although he was alone in the Garden of Eden when he walked beside God and kept His commandments.  But as soon as Adam and Eve turned their back against God and disobeyed His commandments, all the happiness  disappeared and was replaced by curses.


In contrast, the word “Fa” means punishment or penalty or fine.  This word consists of the following components – “4”,+ “words”+”knife or sword”= punishment or penalty.  In other words, the first penalty was given to man because he followed the four words spoken by the serpent which were 1/ You shall not die.  2.  Your eyes will be opened.  3. You will be like God. 4.  You shall be full of knowledge of good and evil.


The Senate building is almost 200 years old and used to be where the Parliament met, but now it houses the city library and museum and a few offices.  Behind it, there was a larger building for the government offices.   This old parliament building is located on the Avenida de Almaida Ribeiro and on the top of the building you can see the municipal flag, dark green in colour, which shows the symbol of three lotus flowers and the five stars indicating the People’s Republic of China.


The three lotus flowers symbolize the three territories of the peninsula and the two islands, and can also be a symbol of the three races of people comprising the population of Macao,  the Chinese, the Portuguese and other foreigners.   While the blue flag next to it is the flag of the old city of Macao which has a symbol of the world, the ocean indicating the Portuguese sailors conquering the oceans of the world, and the emblems of the Portuguese nation.


The first lighthouse built by the Portuguese on the Fortaleza de Guia which is a fortress on the city of Macao facing south, and is a fort as well as a light house.  On the left is a Catholic chapel called The Convent of The Virgin Mary and there is an ancient cannon as well as a copper bell made in 1707.   The bell cracked and was remolded in 1824 and is still there.  From this lighthouse the scenery over the city of Macao, and the islands is very beautiful.  Our school is on the island is on the island of Taipa, and the international airport is located on the outer island of Coloane.   That airport is built out of the water on concrete  stilts.  There are now 3 bridges connecting the peninsula to the  island of Taipa, over the mouth of the Pearl River.  The river has no resemblance to a pearl at all!


The hotel and casino Lisboa is the oldest casino establishmen and if you notice the roof, it is made in the form of a roulette wheel.  When I worked in Macao, there were only 15 casinos inthe city but there are now 21 and apparently many more will be built.  At that time 5 million tourists visited Macao in one year but last year they recorded 17 million, an increase of more than300%.  As far as income and the number of tourists coming to

 Macao, they are exceeding Las Vegas.  Just last year they got $US5.6 BILLION in taxes from the casinos.  Left is the tower of Macao, the tenth highest tower in the world, while in the back ground can be seen the tall buildings located on the island of Taipa.. 


On the reclaimed land between Taipa and Coloane there is a strip of land which they call Kotai,  the site where they are going to build seven first class hotels which will have 10 000 rooms, and include shopping centres and entertainment area.  This construction is supposed to be completed by the end of 2007.  There will be the Four Seasons, Hilton, Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Regal, Starwood and Sheraton Hotels.  According to the news there has never been so many international hotels constructed in this fashion in one city in the world before.


The social security system in Macao is very good.  The average teacher’s salary is around $HK12000 per month in our church school, it is much more in outside schools.  Although the salary is higher in Hong Kong, I enjoyed Macao because everything is close by and the cost of living is less.  The new director of the school was quite good in economizing and he used a lot of volunteers from overseas, mostly from the US, to teach English subjects, computers and Bible subjects.    The picture shows the school teachers on an excursion to Hong Kong SDA College.  


For those who are interested in motor sports, I will mention the Macao Grand Prix, which is held every November in the city.  There are about 300 international contestants for car and motor bike events. 


Another interesting fact is that Macao was almost taken over by the Dutch people during the seventeenthcentury when they surrounded the city with their armada, but one of the guns on the top of the fort hit the ammunition ship and the whole Armada became an inferno.  This was a defeat for the Dutch and since that time there has never again been a thought to conquer Macao.  The next picture shows the venerated cannon which defeated the Dutch Armada.  A lot of people come here to pray, to touch the gun, and to pray to find the right partner in life.


For us who lived for years in Macao and felt homesick for Indonesian food, we usually visited an Indonesian restaurant operated by one of my members of the interdenominational church which I pastured.  His name was Mr Lim.  Every time I visited the restaurant and ate some Indonesian food, Mrs Lim always gave us some extra cakes.  I always refused and insisted that I pay for everything, but she always said “Don’t worry Pastor, I am giving this to Jesus”.  Actually they were very happy if I could visit them often as her mother could not speak Cantonese or English, but only Sundanese and Mandarin. That is why she was very happy if I visited and could talk to her in Sundanese. She would look quite sad when we departed and ask when we would be coming back again.


Chapter 24   Ancient Chinese Characters Confirm Christian Faith


Perhaps you have not heard that in the Peoples Republic of China there are now between 75 and 100 million Christians.  Most of them are worshipping in residential homes, nicknamed the underground churches.  These churches are considered illegal and they face very heavy sanctions when discovered by the government.  A great number of their members have been persecuted, thrown into prison or even killed.  But instead of decreasing, the membership has been skyrocketing.  This phenomenon has happened in the last twenty years since China opened her doors to the influence of foreign cultures.  Before that the Gospel moved very slowly in China.  At the time the Peoples Republic was established in 1949, statistics record only about 10 000 SDA church members in the whole of mainland China.  But after more than 40 years of oppression, persecution and the government efforts to annihilate them, when the Communist regime used an iron hand under the leadership of Mao Tze Tung, surprisingly now our membership has jumped thirty fold to almost 300 000 strong.  Most worship in very humble cottages, some outdoors on their farms.


A few years ago, during the global baptism by the SDA church, in one village they baptised over 4000 members from sunset on Friday to the following Sabbath at midnight.   They did not have any ordained minister in that village so the baptism was conducted by church elders, deacons and deaconesses who were given special authority to baptise, only for that occasion.   We can see that the Holy Spirit has been abundantly poured and worked mightily in that atheistic country.   Others are still worshipping idols.  God is really wonderful.  The government tried very hard to wipe out Christianity from that part of the world, which has now become a place where on the average the entire Christian church baptizes 22-25 000 every day.   These people are not baptised because they are promised easy lives or any material rewards.  On the contrary they face fatal risks- all their meagre earthly treasures can be confiscated, they can be put into jail without trial and many have been cruelly killed by the secret police agents.


One of those converts who has been baptised into our church is now very actively preaching to Chinese communities around the world, as well as in mainland China.  Samuel Wang was formerly the national yoga leader in China and also leader of the Hari Krishna movement in Beijing.    But later he met an Adventist volunteer English teacher, who was teaching in a language school operated by the SDA church.  Besides teaching English the teacher spoke in the class of how the ancient Chinese characters contained the same story as the first chapters of the book of Genesis, and mentioned the book by Dr Ethel Nelson.  Samuel Wang was very interested and persuaded the teacher to lend him the book.  Later Samuel was baptised by Pastor David Lin in the bath tub of a hotel in Beijing.


A few years later Samuel Wang was involved in the student uprising at Tiananmen Square, Beijing.  He was covered with blood when he was rescued, and later he was smuggled out of China to the USA.  Now he has written several books together with Dr Ethel Nelson, including God and the Ancient Chinese, and The Beginning of the Chinese Characters, besides translating several books of E G White including Desire of Ages,  Steps to Christ,  Great Controversy and also Bible Readings for the Home Circle.  Besides that Samuel Wang has established a Bible School in his home village and has conducted seminars in different countries about the connection between the ancient Chinese characters and the Bible especially in the book of Genesis.   He has a masters degree in ancient Chinese studies.  His books can be purchased in many Christian bookshops.   The books of Ethel Nelson and Samuel Wang are read not only by Adventists.  In fact those books are not published by our publishing houses but by non-Adventist publishers and have been soul winning tools used by more non Adventist churches than our own denomination.


When I was living in Jakarta in 2000, I was invited to meet them and was financed by Dr Nelson to go to Singapore while they were conducting a seminar at the Calvary Baptist Church.  As I mentioned earlier, my interest in this subject started when I was looking for a crash course textbook in the Chinese language and was shown one of the books of Ethel Nelson, entitled Genesis and the Mystery Confucius Could Not Solve.  I had written several pamphlets based on these books and distributed them in Indonesia and they were also circulated by the Adventist Forum in the USA.  They were seen by the son-in-law of Ethel Nelson, who contacted me and asked me to meet her to give me more information and to encourage me to continue my work in spreading the news. 


From this meeting I became more diligent in studying and presenting the topic of the connection of the ancient characters with the Hebrew writings and faith, and as a result I have been invited to speak in churches of various denominations and prayer groups in Indonesia, Macao, Singapore, Malaysia and here in Australia.  And my son Victor Lee, who in the beginning was a little sceptical, is now more deeply involved in spreading this news amongst the Chinese communities.


In 2002 after the Bali bombing I was asked to teach the Mandarin language at the University of the Third Age (for senior citizens) on Bribie Island, Queensland.  I used the material from these books and created great interest amongst the students.  Even the president of the U3A sat in the class to learn about this topic.  I was once offered a scholarship to study in a charismatic college in Brisbane in exchange for teaching this material to the students and ministers.  But I was advised against this by Dr Peter Miller and his brother Pastor Keith Miller, who were afraid of the consequences if I attended that institution.  I did attend some of their meetings, when they put their hands on me to try to fill me with the Holy Spirit.  But I felt that was not the Holy Spirit which made me fall to the floor but a trick using pressure points to make the subject sink down.  There is always some one behind to catch the person, in these situations.   I thank God because I was protected by Him and I have become immune because I was exposed to this kind of thing when I was still young and I used to attend the charismatic church where my father was a minister.  And apparently the Lord had another plan for me.


These pictures show Victor Lee when he was making a film with Samuel Wang for his DVD to be used in connection with his seminars, in 2005.  Dr Ethel Nelson is also in the film.


Ironically the word Tiananmen in Mandarin means the Gate of Heavenly Peace but it was there that Samuel Wang and his friends were almost killed, and many others met their deaths during the uprising.  But now Samuel Wang has established a Bible School which he named The New Heaven on Earth where these young people are being trained to give their peers the message.  And with Ethel Nelson he has convinced a lot of people about the authenticity of the Word of God.


In my youth, I was challenged by uncle who was a follower of Taoism and Buddhism, to prove the Christian concept of the creation of heaven and earth.  My uncle, who was the husband of my father’s youngest sister, was a business man in Makassar who was appointed the manager of the Export Import Bank during a revolution in Indonesia.  But the rebellion collapsed.  This uncle challenged me, saying, “Your Bible says that the world was created by God.  Our scriptures say that there is no such thing as a god, it was just the law of Nature.  So it is our scriptures against your scriptures.  Do you have a third party witness to confirm your claim?

At that time I was not able to convince him.  But now, after his death, with this discovery I have been able to convince a lot of other Chinese who were formerly sceptical about the teaching of the Bible.  I have been able to present this material to people in different churches and show to them that actually the ancient Chinese people knew about this Creator God even before the Hebrew people came into existence.

There are three ancient writings which originated in the same era – the earliest, the Sumerian writings, the Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Chinese writings.  Of these three only the Chinese story is similar to what is written in the Hebrew Bible.  The Sumerian and Egyptian stories have many gods, often animals, involved in creation.  Professor Lickey is a retired professor of ancient languages at Walla Walla College, who is an expert in the ancient Sumerian writings.  Victor has met him twice, and was given instruction by him about the similarities between the Sumerian writings and the ancient Chinese pictographs

The table on the left shows Sumerian cuneiforms.  The table on the right shows the development of some Chinese words, from top to bottom, moon, person, eye and mountain.

These tables show how the origins of the Sumerian cuneiforms were simple pictures, similar to the pictures in the oracle bones of the Chinese, which developed into the modern Chinese language.  The difference is that the Sumerian and Egyptian writings are now extinct while the Chinese language has been in continuous use for the last 4000 years.  There have been some changes but you can still trace the origin of these characters from simple drawings reflecting the way of life and beliefs of the people of that time.   Do you think this is coincidental?  I am more inclined to think that the present Chinese people with their millions who have just recently accepted the truth contained in the Bible, show how they realized that their ancestors were worshippers of the same God Whom the Hebrews and Christians worship.


Let us compare the narration of the Babylonians on the creation of heaven and earth with the ancient Chinese concept seen in the most ancient characters which originated during the time of the Xia dynasty.   According to their history this started in 2205 BC, and is seen in the record of the ceremonies performed every year at the Temple of Heaven from the first dynasty until the year 1911 when the Kingdom of China became a republic under their president Dr Sun Yat Sen.    In the Babylonian myths the story of Creation is well known by its first words, Enuma Elish, because they are the first three words meaning When on High in English.

When on high the heaven had not been named.

Firm ground below had not been called by name,

When primordial Apsu, their begetter,

And Mummu-Tiamat, she who bore them all,

Their waters mingled as a single body

No reed hut had sprung forth, no marshland had appeared,

None of the gods had been brought into being

And none bore a name, and no destinies determined –

Then it was that the gods were formed in the midst of heaven.

Lahmu and Lahamu were brought forth, by name they were called.

From the above narration we can see how the Sumerian nation believed that heaven and earth did not come into existence by itself but were created by what they called gods.  Those gods were not created but they were already in existence and then they created the whole world with its plants, animals and human beings, as well as other gods.   And now consider the ancient Chinese record of creation.  In the songs which were sung by the kings in their sacrifice to God at the Temple of Heaven, as they prayed for a good harvest for the year, we can see how strikingly similar their concept is to that of the Hebrews concerning the Creator God.

In the book written by James Legge, The Notions of the Chinese concerning Gods and Spirits, published by Hong Kong Register Office, 1852, page 29, we find the following narration of the prayer by the ancient Chinese Kings since the beginning of their Kingdom.  These were recited until 1911.  

“Of old, in the beginning there was the great chaos, without form and dark.  The five elements (planets) had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine.  You O spiritual Sovereign first divided the grosser parts from the purer.  You made heaven.  You made earth.  You made man.  All things with their reproducing power got their being.”

Now compare the following narration in the Bible as it is found in the book of Genesis Ch 1 verses 1 to 10 NKJV.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

4 And God saw the light,  that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

 6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

Isn’t it amazing how the ancient Chinese history and the Bible narration give the same description of the creation of heaven and earth.  And now let us notice in the book of the same author James Legge page 29 

All the numerous tribes of animated beings are indebted to Thy favour for their beginnings, man and things are all in paradise from Thy love, O Te.  All living things are indebted to Your goodness, but who knows from whom his blessings come to him.  You alone, oh Lord, are the true parent of all things.

Compare this to the Bible narration Gen 1 22-29 NKJV.  

22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.

 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Do you see the amazing similarities in these two descriptions of the creation by God?  Both the Bible narration and the ancient King’s prayers contain very firm declarations that God created all creatures and this God is called Shang Di in Chinese, meaning the King or Emperor Above, or the King of Heaven.  The Hebrew people called Him El Shaddai, Whose dwelling is in heaven.  The Chinese have another term for God, Tian, meaning Heaven.   The Chinese characters for God show the original words were simple drawings of a man.   God is described as a noble man coming down from heaven. 

Listen to the description of James Legge on how Shang Di (El Shaddai) worked, in the same page of his book, ,

When Di, the Lord, had so decreed, He called into existence heaven and earth.  He separately placed in order man and things, all overspread by the heavens. 

Now compare that with Psalms 33 verses 6 and 9.

6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.   9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.

Do you think that those two descriptions of the creative act were only coincidental, that they sound so similar.  That is impossible.  Those two ancient narratives about creation must have been inspired by the same God.  Both of them declare without apology or any hesitation, that it was God, El Shaddai, Jehovah or Shang Di, Who created the earth and all its contents, only using His mouth, speaking and commanding them into existence.     In the next chapter I will tell you how four former atheists educated at the universities in China admitted to me that they could not deny the facts that the ancient Chinese characters spoke exactly the same thing as the narration of creation in the Bible.

Chapter 25  Teaching Chinese Writing to Chinese People

Learning the Chinese language in China from native Chinese speakers is a privilege but not something novel.    Going to China to study Chinese and then to teach the secret behind the Chinese writing to native Chinese speakers – that is something which I find very strange.  But that was my experience.  I am not telling this to brag, but to prove to you how wonderful our God is, and that there is nothing impossible with Him, and to inspire you to do the same thing.  If you have ever watched the cooking program by Yan Can Cook, his slogan is, “If Yan Can Cook, so Can You.”  Then I can also say “If Sammy can do it, so can all of you!”

When I first arrived in China, I was given a chance to attend a Chinese language course which was not easy to follow and I became bored after four weeks in the class.  So I decided to study by myself, based on the inspiration I got from reading the books of Ethel Nelson and Samuel Wang.  I found out that most Chinese characters were in the beginning a form of primitive, simple drawings.  Now after the government of the Peoples’ Republic has tried to simplify the language, the traces and evidences of the ancient Chinese people’s belief and worship of the same Creator God Whom we worship, have  been systematically eliminated.  But we can still see the evidences of inspiration by the God Who inspired the Holy Scripture.

The basic Chinese characters include the numbers from 1 to 10, the words for light, water, mountain, man, woman, boat, mouth, fire, rain, prohibition, tree, fruit, garment, goat or lamb, I or me, you, he, penalty, covetousness, garden, far, flood, tower, moving or migrating.    All those show that the inventors of this ancient language about 4000 years ago must have known the same God worshipped by Noah and his family, the God Who inspired the writers of the Bible, which is being used as a guide for us who live at the end of time.

Towards the end of my ministry in Macao, in 1998 I taught three Chinese medical doctors who were natives of Canton and who were working for the health department of the Macao Government.   They were educated in the Chinese state universities in Canton and naturally were influenced by the communist ideology about the concept of God.  I accepted their requests to teach them English, not because I needed the money as our salary was more than enough for my daily needs.  I was thinking that was a good opportunity for me to witness to those three doctors of the good news about the creation of the universe and about the love of the Creator.   He offered salvation through faith in accepting the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the only Ruler that will bring eternal happiness and peace to this world.     The Chinese people always make it their prime goal to reach eternal happiness.

After they had been learning for two months at my flat, twice a week, the doctors and I became very close and I started to introduce to them the Bible truth in small installments.  I asked them if they knew about the Christian religion. Their answer was that they knew only about their ancestors’ belief, Buddhism, but now they consider that it is not acceptable to the modern generation who are scientifically oriented.     I asked them further if they knew that their ancestors’ faith was not Buddhism but actually the teaching of the Bible held true by the Christians of today.  They looked at me incredulously, indicating their disbelief and I seemed to detect a sign as if they were saying in their hearts, “I think this Mr Lee does not know anything about history, even if he is well versed in English and other languages.”   They smiled politely but I could see behind their smiles some ridicule.  So I went to the small white board which I used to teach them, and wrote the character for “to create”

To create – breath, earth, mouth, and movement./walking           

As you can see, the character for ‘to create’ consists of the following components: -‘breath ‘ + ‘earth/soil’ +‘mouth’ +’walk or move’.  Is that not what the Bible describes when God created Adam the first man?   He took earth then put the breath of life into his nostril, using His mouth, and Adam instantly was able to move and walk, like an adult, without having to learn to crawl, stand and walk, as the rest of us do.  Their smiles began to fade when they watched the Chinese characters which they had known for ages but had not considered in that way.   Then I wrote the second word, ‘yuan’, meaning ‘garden’.  This character in Chinese consists of the components ‘frame’ which surrounded any plot of land, +’earth/soil’+ ‘mouth’ + ‘person/man’ + a second person coming out from the side of the first person.   Again, is that not the same as the description of the Bible about how God created Eve, the second person, from the side of the first person, which he created from earth or soil, and put both of them in the Garden of Eden? 

‘Yuan”, garden comprises elements of a frame, earth, mouth, and 2 people.

I mentioned to them that out of the 214 basic characters in the Chinese ancient writings there were 180 showing the same story of creation as it is recorded in the book of Genesis chapters 1-11.   That is, how the heavens and earth were created, how the first human beings came into existence, how they fell into sin because of the temptation of the devil, how they were driven out of the Garden of Eden.  How God made for them a garment to cover their nakedness.  How Cain the first elder brother in the world acted so cruelly in killing his own younger brother, Abel.   How God punished the human race which had become very wicked during the time of Noah, while saving his family of only eight souls on board the first boat.  And then after the human race became plentiful again they started to rebel against the command of God to scatter all over the world by creating a city with a tower at Babel.  As a result there was confusion of languages and they were eventually scattered all over the face of the earth, and the Chinese people had to migrate to the farthest point of the land, the Far East where they are still settled.  During the time they studied English under me, the doctors also learned the Christian concepts of creation and salvation of Christ as described in the Bible. I could not say that they were baptised, and I did not hear about their baptism since.  But at least they admitted they could not deny the truthfulness about the origin of the Chinese characters and their meanings.

Before we departed from Macao at the end of my service late in 1999 those three doctors invited my wife and I for a farewell dinner at a Chinese Portuguese restaurant on the island of Taipa.  One of them, Dr Stella Chen, came to Australia a few years ago, to do research and study at Griffith University in Brisbane.   I had the privilege of taking her around Brisbane for three days. 

The most impressive experience that I had was for three months, every Sabbath afternoon, I gave a series of lessons concerning the origin of the Chinese characters to a group of students and teachers from Zhuhai University of Radio and Television.  One of the lecturers who attended the meetings, remarked “This is very strange.  I have been using the Mandarin language for dozens of years but this is the first time I have studied its origins, and from a foreigner at that.”   He further remarked that what I taught was undeniably correct but wondered why he had not understand it at all in the beginning.

I replied, “It was because you never read the Bible.  I suggest you read the Bible and compare what you know and then you will see how logical all these things are.  Which is easier to accept, that there is no one who designed and created all the things we see in nature, which are so beautiful and perfect, or to believe that there is an all knowing and all powerful and loving God who designed all of this so perfectly?   I think it would be easier to believe that than to believe that the whole universe has come by chance without any designer, maker and upholder.  Or that the satellites and sputniks were out there in the outer space because there was an explosion in a metal workshop and the pieces of metal formed itself into those precision engineering machineries which then orbited this earth.”

He asked me further, “If what you say is true that there is a God Who designed and created everything, Who is omniscient and omnipotent, Who is perfect in character and all loving, then why is there so much suffering, conflict, wars, crimes, cruelty and chaos everywhere?”

I did not have time to answer his questions in detail but I am happy to tell you that my friend Roddy Wong, who operated an English language school at that university at his own expense, had regular Sabbath School meetings in the apartment where he stayed in Zhuhai.  It was Roddy Wong who invited me to give these Bible studies at his home, which he turned into a branch Sabbath School.

In August 2006 I had the opportunity to return to Macao.  On that trip we were almost stranded in the Las Vegas of Asia because of a category 8 typhoon.  About 60 people died in Guangdong province, next to Macao.  We were very thankful to the Lord, because we escaped any harm. Although there were about 500 flights cancelled the day before causing thousands of passengers to be stranded at the airport in Hong Kong, our flight was not cancelled and we arrived safely in Singapore.

We witnessed how amazing is the construction which is going on in the gambling capital of Asia.  Until last year there were only 8500 rooms in Macao but at the end of this it was reported that there will be 10,000 more rooms in five star establishments, which will bring the total accommodation to 18,500 hotel rooms.

I had the joy of meeting my relatives and several members of my family in the Lord which were part of the Indonesian Christian Fellowship Group, the interdenominational congregation which I had pastored for two years.  Five of them were baptised into our SDA Cantonese church in Macao.. Brother Tan and his wife came to our gathering, showing us videos and photos of the wedding of one of their two sons, whom I had baptised.   That son had married a girl from mainland China.  Before the wedding she was given Bible studies by Pastor Chen who is the pastor of the SDA church in Macao, and she was baptised prior to their marriage.  That was the highlight of my visit to that amazing gambling den of the Orient.


Economics subjects while her husband worked in the security department of our High School in Macao., after their baptism

Chapter 26   Australia Here I come

In 1999 after seven years living in Macao, we decided to return to Australia.  Macao is on the estuary of the Pearl River, sharing it with Hong Kong on the opposite side.  The Pearl River supports a lot of agriculture in China, but the climate at the estuary is very humid.  In winter it just was intolerable – the humidity and cold, especially with a strong wind.  There are also frequent typhoons during the year.  I suffered from bronchial asthma and after being such a long time away from Australia I felt like it was time to go home and have a rest, and to breathe fresh air.  Macao has many skyscrapers and there is a lot of traffic congestion, so the air is not good.   Our decision was also influenced by the uncertainty of the future when the colony was returned to China.

When I was still a student in Indonesian Union College in Bandung, Indonesia I frequently heard the name, Avondale College.   Avondale was said to have a very big and beautiful campus, somewhere near Sydney.   We heard how the land was bought on the suggestion of Mrs E G White.   Most of the people who lived in those days advised against the purchase saying that the land was useless and it would not be worth keeping it even if it was free.   However Mrs White urged them to buy the 1500 acres.  True to her opinion, the land on the campus despite the professional advice of the authorities was later found only to need some fertilizers to make it productive.  One of our lecturers at the college at that time, Mr Imanuel Napitupulu, was a graduate of Avondale College.  He used to tell us about the school and about the city of Sydney.  We heard about all those things and could only daydream trying to imagine how wonderful it would be if we could one day set foot in Australia.   It is now 32 years since I first arrived in Australia.

The Ambonese call Australia “Oseteralia”, which means “You cannot see it”.   There is some truth to the term because not many Indonesians turn their eyes Down Under.  Most of them set their eyes towards the United States.    So to start this part of the story, I had better give you an eagle’s eye view of this Kangaroo Continent in the southern hemisphere.    Australia is a former British colony, and still retains the Union Jack in her flag, and still is part of the Commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth 2 as sovereign.  Everyone who becomes an Australian citizen must take an oath of allegiance to her majesty.   When I obtained my first Australian passport I was very thrilled to read as statement which goes “The Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, being the representative in Australia of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2, requests all whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford him or her every assistance and protection of which he or she may stand in need.”  This really amused me because in the Indonesian passport which I had held before, on the first page was a statement with a sanction.    

The Australian continent is unique because it was discovered the most recently but its flora and fauna show that it is just as old as the other continents in the world.  On this smallest of continents we have unique animals that can be found only here, most famously the koala and the kangaroo.    Do you know the original meaning of the word ‘kangaroo?’  I expect you to say “I don’t know” and you would be dead right because that is the meaning of the word!   It was probably more a statement that the Aborigines did not understand what was being asked.   Some people in my native country try to explain that it must be the name of the brother of Kang Ari, so it is called Kang Aru. 

The second question is, “Do you know the meaning of Koala?”  That is also an aboriginal name which means “The fellow who never drinks” because is its whole diet is eucalypt leaves.  I do not want to advise the reader to follow the koala’s habits because you would not survive for long.  And that is the reason the koala’s urine is so concentrated and strong smelling, so be careful if you hold one!  As you know, Australia is the only continent in the world with all its borders, water.     This country is divided into 8 states and territories.  The Australian Capital Territory is the location of the capital, Canberra, which is the only city built from scratch and following the master plan of its designer, Walter Burley Griffin.   Formerly Melbourne was the site of Parliament House but a new capital was built due to intercity rivalry with Sydney, approximately half way between the two.

Because the city is near mountains which are covered by snow in the winter, the temperature in the winter is colder than Melbourne which lies further south.   I myself am reluctant to visit that city during the winter but the best scenery is during the autumn season when the trees are very colourful,. Just like rainbows with light green, dark green, yellow, brown, blue (Spruces) orange red and violet.  Some trees have white or black bark, while the rest are normal green.

Well that was stunning scenery when I first arrived in Canberra, because I had never seen colours like that in Indonesia.  As you know, we are the opposite of the United States and Europe as far as seasons are concerned.  So if the people in the US and Europe are shivering with cold, we are steaming and sweating.  Even though the land area is more than seven times that of Indonesia the population is not even one tenth that of my original country.  In Australia there are more sheep than human beings.  Most of the population is concentrated on the east and south, in the cities Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and has the most beautiful harbour.    Its blue water, part of the estuary of the Parramatta River is located next to the city centre.  The waterways have always been admired by all the tourists who come to visit us.    The city’s two halves, north and south, are connected by the Harbour Bridge which is fondly nicknamed The Coathanger.   Not far from the Bridge is another world famous landmark, the Sydney Opera House.   These two symbols of the city of Sydney make it easy to identify pictures of our city even by people who have never seen it before.  The waterways of Sydney have been acclaimed by my American friends as the most beautiful, because flanked by skyscrapers.   The most expensive houses in Australia are found in places near the water.    Besides the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House lies the Botanical Gardens which is a favourite spot for walkers and joggers.    I think that is enough description of Sydney and I would like to point out that our Division headquarters is located in Wahroonga, one of the posh northern suburbs.  Sydney Adventist Hospital, commonly known as the San, provides a wide variety of top class medical services to the community, and is located just over the road from the headquarters of the South Pacific Division.

Chapter 27      A Hermit on Bribie Island with Oei’s

In the first chapter I have told about my meeting with my cousin Jenny Tan and her husband, Oie San Hok and their children Carla, Christine, Vonny, Charles and Harry at the Tamansari SDA church. Now 37 years later after wandering to and fro upon the earth it seemed that we were destined to stay together again.

At the end of 1999, a lot of people were worried about the Millenium Bug and Y2K.   Some believed that the world would come crashing down together with all the computers on December 31 1999, and it could eventually lead to the end of the world due to the confusion which would result.  Well, to many people that sounded logical and that is the reason that there were so many of us who were also influenced by the stories that were in circulation.  We thought we should find fellow believers and keep together during the troubles predicted by the computer geeks.

When I wrote a letter to my niece Carla Chuang in Melbourne, asking where her parents were, she told me that they were residing on an island near Brisbane in Queensland.  They had built a house on the island which looks like a grain of rice on the Australian map.  The island is measures 32 km by 8 km and is connected to the mainland with a 567 metre bridge.  The Oei family lived in the suburb of Bongaree.  They had chosen this island was because it is very beautiful, quiet, safe with only 18,000 population, clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, a paradise for tourists as well as retirees.  

The island is also a sanctuary for birds and animals and it consists of 5 suburbs, Bellara, Bongaree, Woorim, Wallacia, and Pacific Harbour.  This is a new suburb near the water and the canal especially designed for those who own very expensive toys to play on the water and is the most expensive area in Bribie.   Except for human beings, all the creatures on the island are protected.  Whoever catches or harms any native creature can be fined or even put in prison.  That is why the birds and animals on that island look very, very prosperous and friendly.  And of course, the inhabitants of the island, being mostly established older citizens,  are also very friendly and on meeting them as they walk along the beaches they seem to be competing to be the first to greet you very cordially.

On Bribie Island there is no traffic light at all, all the traffic manages with roundabouts and all the drivers follow the traffic regulations very carefully.  And there are very few accidents there, except when heavy drinking is involved.     On the Promenade there is a bicycle and pedestrian path, going most of the way around the island. On the side which faces the continent of Australia the water is very tranquil and is very good for swimmers and those who like fishing, either on the sandy beaches or from a wharf or jetty at Bongaree.  On the other side where the beach faces the Pacific Ocean the water usually is boisterous and the waves are very high but that is the place for surfers.

On the island are you can see many kinds of lorikeets, cockatoos, budgerigars and all their tribes and clans which I have never seen elsewhere.  There are pelicans, ibis and the wood ducks which they call Bribie Chooks and also crested pigeons in abundance.  Sometimes the trees become white because they are crowned with white feathered friends which are always very noisy.

We have a small congregation there, meeting in one of the multipurpose classrooms of the Bribie Island State High school. Including the children there are only about twenty-five members.  Because the minister who was in charge of Bribie Island had also to take care of Caboolture SDA church about twenty kilometres away on the mainland, he came only about once a month.  For that reason I was asked to preach at least once a month, besides teaching the combined the Sabbath School class twice a month when I was not preaching.  The church elder was Dr Peter Miller.    Although the members were very few, and most of them retired senior citizens, they were quite highly educated and the Sabbath School programs were always very interesting.  But the most interesting thing to me was the Friday evening opening Sabbath vespers that many times were held at the luxurious residence of Elder Peter Miller.  Sometimes a baptism was held in his swimming pool.  The world was really very small because later I found out that we are related through my new brother-in-law who is married to Peter Miller’s niece.   Peter and his wife Billie are very active leaders of the church, besides them we also had Phil Ward, a business man who operates the amateur radio station Sunshine Coast FM, his father Charles Ward and two veteran SDA school teachers, who had worked in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.   Stan and his wife Fiona were full of good ideas and illustrations and stories and jokes, and the church was very lively.  

I was asked to teach in the remedial class as an English teacher for the problem kids at the local high school, which I did twice a week.  This probably made me unique as perhaps the only Indonesian teaching English to Australian born students.  Their conversation and pronunciation were far better than mine but they were very weak in spelling and grammar.  Besides that I was asked to teach Indonesian and Mandarin at the Bribie Island U3A (University of the Third Age).  This is an educational institution with students consisting mostly of retired people .  It is there that I met my good friend Bill Nabbs, a former member of the Australian Navy.   Bill was very kind and caring, he treated me just like his own brother.  Bill was one of the students in the Indonesian class taught by Augie Burie, a Dutch Eurasian born in Pontianak, Indonesia during the Dutch occupation.  She is actually the grand daughter of one of the ruling governors and she used to tell me about how they spent their weekends at the Bogor presidential palace in the istana summer resort palace of the then governors.    Her Indonesian was still very much influenced by the Dutch language and the Betawi dialect (the former name for Jakarta).  She asked me to assist her in teaching the Indonesian language.  Two years later Augie married my friend Bill Nabbs and the two became the closest friends I have ever had, even closer than my own siblings.  Actually Bill claims to be an atheist or agnostic but he liked to spent time with me and we seemed to be birds of the same feather as far as humorous propensities are concerned.

In the Mandarin class which was attended even by the president of the U3A, Bill also became one of the students.  All the participants were Australians and so I concocted a pronunciation guide using English words to make it easier for Australians to pronounce and remember the meaning of the most difficult language in the world.   Instead of asking them to memorise the spelling and pronunciation of the words “How are you”, which is “Ni Hao”, I substituted a phrase in English, “Knee How”, and emphasized to them that since it is not polite to point at peoples’ noses when you talk, it is alright to point at their knee and ask if that is alright.  If your knee is alright then your health is also alright, but if your knees are knocking, you are in trouble.   And instead of “Wo ai ni” meaning “I love you”, I used the English words “War I knee”   The word ‘Wo’ for ‘I’ or ‘Me’ in Mandarin consists of the components ‘hand’ and ‘spear’ which describe that I am a very powerful person.  The word ‘ai’ very interestingly consists of a hand hovering over a roof and under the roof are two hands holding each other.  This obviously indicates that love was originated from above from the God of love Who created the first couple and put them in their first home.  Actually in the traditional version of the word there is the component of heart above the hand, indicating that love should start in the heart and not on the lips.   When we love each other we will extend our hands helping each other.  The word you ‘Ni’ consists of a ‘person’ and a ‘weighing scale’ indicating that ‘you’ are also a human,  equally made like me.  The word ‘Ta’ for ‘he’ or ‘she’ consists of ‘human being/person’ and the component ‘also’.  So in the words ‘me’, ‘you’ and ‘he/she’, we see that all of us are human beings equally made.

Bill Nabbs was one of my most diligent and enthusiastic students, who just loved the Mandarin language.  He was so swept up in it that after six months he decided to practise by taking an independent tour to the Peoples Republic of China, visiting the villages in the interior.  I told him that he might face some problems there because not many people in China in the isolated places can understand English, and his Mandarin was still rudimentary.  But he insisted that he had enough vocabulary to be able to communicate with the natives since he had the experience of meeting natives during his service in the Navy.  He took his wife with him on a two months trip and I was asked to be a house sitter to take care of his property in Bribie Island.  By this time Lynn had gone back to Indonesia to live, deciding not to return to Australia.

When Bill came back, I asked him if he had any problems with his Chinese in the country of “Emperor Nasi Goreng”. “who built the great wall of China”.  And he replied, “No, mate, I had no problems at all.   They are the ones who might have had the problem trying to understand me!”  But he told a hilarious experience when they were traveling on a long distance bus trip, in a vehicle with sleeping facilities.  He was sleeping on the lower bunk and a Chinese girl was sleeping above him. In the middle of the night the girl wanted to go to the bathroom. It was dark and his head was extending out beyond the bunk.  The girl stepped on his head and she said “dui bu qi”{which is pronounced dwee boo chee) meaning “I beg your pardon”.  Bill replied immediately “Bu ke qi” (Boo cur chee) meaning “Don’t be shy, help your self to some more” which is usually spoken to a guest offering a second helping.   He should have said “Mei wen ti” which means “No problem”.    He said the whole bus was almost bursting with the passengers’ laughter.     I have a feeling that the passengers had been suppressing their mirth the whole day listening to an Australian who was so friendly, trying to communicate in their language, but most of the time the pronunciation could mean a lot of unintended things, including four letter words. 

So those are some of the highlights I had on that isolated place called Bribie Island before I was called out of isolation by a Warburtonian.

Chapter 28 Serving as a volunteer carer and lay preacher on Bribie Island

From 2000 to early 2003 I spent some time in Indonesia, as well as on Bribie Island.   For a while I taught English in Jakarta   This chapter describes my life on Bribie Island.

I lived like a sort of hermit on Bribie Island for a while.  The landward side of Bribie Island is a very nice spot for people who enjoy water sports and swimming.  Most of the people who live there are lovers of peaceful living, and some live on the canals where they can berth their boats.  Most of the houses on the canals have a jetty or a swimming pool or both.  No wonder they like to advertise Bribie Island as the paradise of the South Pacific.   I have to admit there are some other cities in Australia which call themselves Paradise but I think as far as security is concerned, where you are not afraid of terrorism, pickpockets and similar threats, I still have to say that Bribie Island is the real paradise.

Because I had not reached 65 years and did not obtain any sustentation from my former employers, I received the unemployment benefit from Centrelink.  The first time I applied, I was told that for the first nine months I would have to work as a volunteer for a nonprofit charity or organization.  So I became involved with the Bribie Island Golden Age Day Respite Centre.  This Centre cares for aged people or invalids, so they need carers and activities to keep the clients from being bored, and if possible to keep them actively engaged and interested in some kind of useful pursuit.  Usually at 9 in the morning the bus from the respite centre came to pick me up on our round to gather the clients of the centre. Most of them were affected by Alzheimers, so they acted like little children.  My duty was to entertain them with old time songs, twice a week.  Every Wednesday they had a religious service where they asked me to give a simple story like the ones we tell children in the primary division, and sing songs with them, or teach them new songs.  Then after that we had another session of singing together, playing carpet golf or carpet bowls, and once a week we had bingo and teaching them handcrafts.  At 10.15 we had morning tea, consisting of drinks and cakes and biscuits.  Then we continued to play with them, telling stories, reading the newspaper with them. At 12.15 there was lunch, and from one to three o’clock we played dominos, monopoly, snakes and ladders, or we took them out to visit the zoo, the beach or up to a mountain lookout.  At exactly 3 o’clock we started dropping them off to their homes or to their retirement villages.  I really did enjoy this work because they appreciated our efforts, both the staff and the patients were very affectionate.

We as senior citizens could buy a pensioner’s excursion ticket for $2.50 and with this ticket we could go by train, bus or ferry wherever we liked, from 6 am to 4 am the next day.  There are some pensioners who made it their habit just to travel around the whole day by all these forms of transport on hot days, because of the air conditioning.  They carry a back pack and some even slept at the station until the following day, so that they did not have to rent accommodation.  


It is very pleasant to be able to sing nostalgic songs of the past golden ages, to make new friends and to meet the family members of the clients who showed their appreciation for us.  This was also an opportunity for me to witness to them about my faith.   One of the songs that I used to sing, and has always been enthusiastically applauded by clients who are Christians, is the song My Way which I revised a little as it appears below.

And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain.
I've lived, a life that's full, I've traveled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did it HIS way.

Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention.
I did, what I had to do, and saw it through, without exception.
HE planned, each charted course, each careful step, along the byway,
and more, much more than this,
HE did it His way.

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew,
When I bit off, more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I faced it all, and I stood tall,

I've loved, I've laughed and cried,
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing.
To think, I did all that, and may I say --- not in a shy way,
"Oh no, oh no not me,
I did it HIS way".

For what is a man, HE’S JUST A FOOL,

The record shows, I took the blows ---
And did it HIS way!

I did it HIS way.

Every Sabbath we were quite busy in the Bribie Island SDA church, and most of the time on Sundays I visited the Bribie Island Baptist church and once in a while I was invited to the Assembly of God church , to witness and to sing.  So actually my life in Bribie Island was quite pleasant and I felt closer to heaven because that island is just like a little garden of Eden where the flora and fauna are protected by law. 

Every afternoon at 3 o’clock I would spend some time at the public library where I could read newspapers and magazines free of charge, and even use the computers for sending and receiving emails.   Every morning around sunrise and in the evening before sunset, I would usually ride my bicycle or hike along the shore.  I really enjoyed these occasions.  Bribie Island’s fresh air is incomparable, especially compared to Jakarta and other big cities.  The inhabitants of the island are mostly pensioners so they have plenty of time to take care of their yards and the gardens look neat and beautiful.  You can find hardly any houses without beautiful front gardens.  Because there are no fences to the front lawns, walking on the island is just like walking in an extended flower gardens so you can feel like the Garden of Eden.  Birds fly freely and sing and are very docile.

Cockatoos, lorikeets, budgeriagars - there are hundreds of them flying from tree to tree or playing on the grass.  And many residents put out containers of water with a little honey, to attract the tiny rainbow coloured entertainers which would give the residents a free acrobatic show, in gratitude for what they had been served.  Every morning we were woken by the beautiful chirping and whistling of pigeons, magpies, crows and kookaburras.  They reply to each others’ calls,  which makes the situation very unforgettable.  Not far from the apartment where I lived there was a small lagoon where ducks and other water birds and fish and frogs made their home and you could hear the orchestra of the frogs which sounded like the bamboo flute orchestras in Manado.

At the beginning of 2002 I returned to Bribie Island and I had an operation and then in July I was called to Manado to teach in a private Catholic school, then Lynn and the owners of the new Chinese School in Bali invited me to go to teach there, and I was there until the end of the year, including during the bombing. 

In 2003 I met my present wife.  We sometimes attended the Guildford Italian Church, where we met Pastor Bob Parr who asked me to help them by preaching at least once a month in the little church, and sometimes by taking the Sabbath School lesson.  Later Pastor Parr became unwell and he and his wife went to live in the retirement village at Cooranbong.  Before he left he asked me to take care of the Italian church.  I did not take over formal care of the church, but I visited it more often as it was pastored by an intern.    The church members requested the Conference that I become a volunteer pastor for the church.  In 2006 I took over care of the church for a year.



Chapter 29 Recruited as Pastor of the Italian SDA church in Sydney


One day the president of the Greater Sydney Conference called me to his office and asked me if I would be willing to take care of the Guildford Italian SDA Church as their pastor.   I replied that I was willing to help as a volunteer, not contracted for any specified time.  But I was given some remuneration to cover my expenses and was given honorary credentials as a retired ordained minister, valid until 2010, from the Australian Union Conference.  I just hope that Jesus will come before the end of 2010.

This hope was also expressed by the members of the Italian church.  They were happy because I always prepared the Sabbath School lessons, songs and sermon outlines in English and Italian.  I speak very little Italian but I managed to understand enough to translate the outlines and text using the Babel Fish Translation Engine, aided by a dictionary.  In the past the church has had quite a large membership but some of them had moved to other places, several returned to Italy and the others are sleeping in peace. The children who cannot speak Italian fluently have moved to other English speaking churches.  But I was happy to work with this small congregation because they seemed to have no major problems and we felt like a big family.  Besides Italians there were four Filipino families, an Arabic Sudanese, one Cambodian family, one Australian family, one from the Solomon Islands, three Spanish speakers, one Laotion and ourselves.

I have to tell here the story about Soopaphon Sirivongsak, a young Laotian woman who was visited by an angel in 2000, when she was preparing herself to become a nun in the Buddhist temple.  At that time she had breast cancer, which had spread to her liver and skin, and her kidneys were failing.  The doctors who treated her did not give her much hope.  Realizing that she had only a short time to live, Soo requested from her parents a chance to visit the USA to meet her godfather who had adopted her and who was a Buddhist priest there.   Her parents collected enough money to send her to the America.   On an October morning in 2000, Soo was preparing herself to depart to Sydney airport.  It was very early, still dark, when she saw in the mirror on her wardrobe, her bedroom door opened and then closed, and this happened three times.  Soo was very frightened and thought that the devil was coming to take her life.  Being a devout Buddhist she knelt down and started to pray Buddhist prayers, to Parama Sian.  This being is the second god to the Lao,  and they believe he is a protector of humans and he will be coming to the earth at the end of time.

After praying, requesting that her life be saved, she went back to sleep.  Suddenly the bedroom became very bright and she was blinded.  She became frightened again but when she opened her eyes she saw a man in white garments standing beside her bed, saying “Don’t be afraid, I am an angel of Jesus.  You are going to the US, and there you will learn more about Jesus.  You will be visiting a big Bible conference there and you will meet these five people, Mark Finlay, Ron Halverson, Doug Batchelor, Kenneth Cox and John Carter.”   She was asked to write the names of these famous evangelists of our church.  Soo said, “I do not know how to write their names, can you write them down for me?”  The angel replied, “I cannot do that, you have to do it for yourself and I will spell it slowly”.  Soo was also told that she must assist three EG White books being translated into the Laotian language, these were Steps to Christ, Desire of Ages and Great Controversy.  The angel also mentioned that she would be hearing three songs, What a Friend we have in Jesus, Rock of Ages, and Love Lifted Me, during the Bible conference.  She was further instructed to pass the word to the five evangelists that during the coming five years, there would be great happenings in the US and the world, which would prepare the way for the Sunday laws to be issued.  Until this time, Soo had never heard of SDAs, never heard of Jesus nor of EG White and her books,  nor the song titles mentioned by the angel.  Besides that her English was very poor and it was impossible for all these things to be figments of her imagination. 

During the five years she spent in the US Soo was able to visit a lot of places of which she had been dreaming for a long time and had been able to see only on travel brochures. She eventually meet the evangelists mentioned by the angel and had her photo taken with each.  On the first Sabbath she was there she asked her friend to take her to the SDA church but since her Laotian friend had also never heard of SDAs she was mistakenly taken to the Seventh-day Baptist church.    When she mentioned the five evangelists and the books of Mrs White to the people at that church they realized that she was looking for another church and they were kind enough to direct her to the right address.  She has also been able to arrange the translation by friends of the three books, by friends who speak English, Thai and Laotian, because those books had already been translated into Thai.

There were a lot of challenges that she met, some from  skeptical SDAs,  and in her own country. Later when I met her after she returned from the States, when I visited the SDA church at Cabramatta where she had been attending several times, I encouraged her by saying that if she had a lot of opposition that did not mean she was on the wrong track.  The Bible does not promise smooth sailing for those following God’s directions.

While in America, Soo attended the medical missionary course at Uchee Pines for a year.  She has applied the principles which she learnt there to several family members and friends after she returned to Australia.  She also attended a Bible Conference as predicted by the angel where there was a baptism at the Paradise Valley SDA church and she said that she would also like to be baptised.  The pastor at first refused her request and asked her to study the Bible first and that he would discuss the matter with the church board.  But according to the instruction of the angel, that if the pastor refused to baptize her, she had to ask the question “Pastor, do you love Jesus?” three times.  She did exactly that and finally the pastor baptised her.

When she returned to Australia she asked me to write a letter to ask for her baptismal certificate so that she could prove to her people in Laos that she is an SDA member.  But they replied that Soo’s name was not found in the church register because at that time she had not been discussed in the board meeting and had presented herself for baptism.   So last year in March Soo requested rebaptism at the Guildford Italian church.  I at first refused and corresponded with her sponsor in the US,  Ethel Price from the Omega Ministry, about the situation.  They also tried to contact Paradise Valley SDA church but received the same answer.   Soo had also indicated that when she was baptised she did not know much about our doctrines and she felt that she had not been following all of them.   So she wanted to be sure and to be baptised to receive full membership of the church.  She also wanted to invite her parents and friends to witness this important occasion.  After discussion with the church board of the Guildford church,  we passed the resolution, she was baptised and accepted as a member of that church.  Since the visit of the angel, we all know that several major events have occurred in the US and in the world.  Among other things, the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York,  the Bali bombing, the Asian tsunami, the hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  These things have encouraged the preparation of the issuing of the identity card and concentration of power in the hands of the US president.

Some months ago Soo met a Turkish young man, whom I will call Yousif, at the train station and Soo started to talk about the Bible.  Yousif was very impressed by what Soo told him and he indicated his interest to study the Bible.  So Soo invited him to come to our church one Sabbath morning while we were having a communion service.  He listened very attentively to my sermon and since it was the first time he had been in a Christian church, he asked Soo a lot of questions.  Earlier he had told Soo that he believed that Jesus the Son of Mary was going to come as the highest Judge and indicated that he would like to baptised.  Soo told him that he had better take some Bible lessons from me first.  When we separated for the ordinance of humility he asked me if he could join in the ceremony.  So I told him that if he really believed that Jesus is his personal Saviour, our church has a practice of open communion.  He gave an affirmative answer and joined in the whole communion service.  After the church we had a pot luck lunch and Yousif stayed and asked a lot of questions about the Bible.  He attended the church several times and I was able to give him some literature and Bible studies.  He has continued studying with a local pastor.   One Sabbath we had a combined meeting of the churches in the GSC at the Entertainment Centre at Darling Harbour.  Soo and Yousif were present and felt blessed from their attendance.

I must also mention another member of the church who apparently is involved in Freemasonry, he indicated his desire that his daughter would be saved and asked me to give her Bible studies at home once a week.  Hopefully she will be baptised in the near future.

The church treasurer is a Cambodian by the name of James Seng.  He is very enthusiastic to win souls but a little frustrated because most of the church members are elderly people and do not seem to have the same energy as he does.  One day he was standing at a railway station when a lady who seemed to be suffering severe pain was leaning on her crutches near him.  Her back was against the wall of the station.  James approached the woman and sympathetically asked her problem.  She told him that she suffered from rheumatism and could hardly stand.   Unmindful of the people around, James offered to pray for the lady, asking for divine healing if it was His well.  According to the testimony of Maria, the Spanish woman, she felt like an electrical current ran through her body and warmed her.   She had been feeling chilled before this experience, which was in the winter.  She told James that she felt very much better and promised that she would attend the church at Guildford, where James is a member, if she was improving in her health later.  Two weeks later she appeared at the church and gave a testimony of how she could now walk without her crutches from her house to the station, board the train and walk from Guildford station to the church, a distance of about two kilometres.  After the meeting James offered her a ride to the station but she refused saying that she wanted to practise walking to prove that she was completely healed.

Soon after this we went on a family to Apollo Bay in Victoria, and I visited the local school, to use one of their computers after hours.  I saw on the window of one of the classrooms a poster of Bali and a caption in big letters SELAMAT DATANG, which means Welcome in Indonesian.  I asked a teacher if they offered Indonesian in their school.  She said that Margaret, one of the teachers, taught Indonesian once a week.  After I was introduced to her, Margaret invited me to speak to years 6 and 7 the next day.  After giving the talk Margaret seemed to be interesting in studying more Indonesian,  so I invited her to send me an email so I could I could send her my e-magazine, called Mental Lunch Box.  I sent her several emails and she received some of my stories and humorous anecdotes and songs, in English and Indonesian.  I hope that this may bring fruits in the future and that it might encourage others to witness wherever and whenever they can,

In the picture taken in front of the Guildford church, it was taken during a visit from my former teacher and boys’ dormitory dean.  As you can see from the picture the members are comprised of multiple nationalities with several Italian families.

Two days after Soo was rebaptised , she had a dream where she saw  the same angel she had seen 6 years earlier.  She was told that Australia would soon be visited by God because Australians have made sports their church and their God.   At that time Australia had just received the highest tally of medals form the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.  It was repeated to Soo that more calamities would be following soon all over the world, ( this was the same day Cyclone Larry had hit), and to be faithful to the Lord as He would be coming very soon.


Sydney, Australia


This story tells some of my experiences in working for the Lord in several countries.   The going has not always been smooth but I thank Him for His ongoing providence and leading.   His promise is sure, He will return soon, and I pray that my readers may also look forward to and join in the great reunion on that day.

Sammy Lee