In March 2022, Excel Point Community Church organised a mission trip to Kapit, Sarawak led by Pr Rachel Koh in answer to a local teacher’s prayer for Iban youth leaders to be equipped and for Iban youth to experience God in a new way.
“Missions is simply bringing the love of Jesus Christ to those who have never known His love,” says Pr Rachel Koh, the working adult pastor of Excel Point Community Church Penang.
At the request of a local teacher in Kapit, Sarawak, Pr Rachel led a team of seven working adults on a five-day mission trip to reach out to the youth in rural Sarawak. The trip was initially scheduled for 2020, but the pandemic hit and it had to be pushed back.
As the pandemic raged, Pr Rachel had to make a decision to either go ahead with the trip or not. “I was actually nervously preparing for this trip. Covid-19 cases were increasing and just three weeks before we were supposed to fly, our local partner in Kapit informed us that cases were rising amongst the students and youth,” Pr Rachel shares.
However, after a time of praying and seeking God’s will, the team decided to forge ahead — Covid-19 wasn’t going to stop them from bringing the gospel to the youths.
From the very start, God’s heart for Kapit was revealed
Kapit, Sarawak is a town along the banks of Sungai Rajang, Malaysia’s longest river. With a population of around 65,8001 (as of 2020), it is a popular intersection for tourists and industrial workers alike. Kapit used to be only accessible via boat or light aircraft, but today one can reach the town by road.
The EPCC team had been planning for this trip since 2020 and was eager to get moving. The plan was to run a leadership training for youth workers and a youth camp for 50 students (the venue’s maximum capacity), most of them Iban.
“The team took a week to fast and pray for the youths that we would be reaching out to. I felt that God was wanting to bring a fresh move among the Iban community to whom we were going to reach out, especially about His love for them. I also felt that the second purpose of our trip was to encourage the teachers and youth workers.”Pr Rachel Koh
And so, bolstered by a week of fasting, prayer and seeking God’s will, the wide-eyed and expectant team of seven working adults (six Malaysians and 1 Nigerian) travelled from Penang to Kapit. Here are some of their stories.
“A stepping-out in faith must be done so that God’s love and power can flow through us to the unreached.” – Samuel, 30
A Penang-based lecturer from Nigeria, Samuel joined this mission trip in obedience to God’s call to reach the lost and be a blessing. His heart’s desire was also to experience God’s blessings in his own life in new dimensions.
“I saw the faith of people trigger when they became aware of the Father’s love for them… I saw people delivered from guilt and self-condemnation. There was a 20-year-old brother who had been battling for a long time with negative thoughts. He also had fears about his future. During my session with him and through the help of the Holy Spirit, things that needed to be dealt with were unclogged. He was delivered that hour, to the glory of God.”
A passionate Christ-follower who firmly believes missions is the heartbeat of God, Samuel has seen firsthand the power of love in bringing lasting impact to communities and nations.
Throughout the trip, he saw people liberated upon hearing the gospel but says that a stepping-out in faith is required for God’s love and power to move.“Empowered by God’s grace, our team ministered to the people of Kapit with hearts of love,” he says.
“When we take the time to listen to those who have faced adversity, we can learn what it means to rely on God in all seasons of life.” – Ashley, 26
Ashley had never been on a mission trip or to Kapit, Sarawak before, but felt she wanted to have a new experience with God and allow Him to use her gifts to bless others.
Signing up for the trip was not the most natural choice for Ashley, as she usually feels more comfortable supporting her from the sidelines. When she found out she had to lead a workshop, she knew she had to take a leap of faith and allow God to take the lead.
“I started to realise God used me as an influencer (by sharing the joy in me to the youth or people I worked with) as I ventured beyond my comfort zone, engaged with the youths, and worked on all responsibilities handed to me.”
Ashley also remembers a moment when God impressed a certain youth upon her heart. When she approached Ruth, she realised why. “Her struggles were, unknowingly, similar to mine. I prayed in my heart for God’s wisdom to guide me throughout the conversation. I’m glad I was able to minister to and pray for her. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit took over that night and touched her heart.”
A personal reflection for Ashley is that sometimes, we need to take the time to listen to others and see the way they live just as Jesus did; when we do that; God ministers to us as well and it becomes a beautiful exchange.
“It’s exciting to see how God is moving among the more rural areas of Malaysia and in many cases, their bigger display of unity and faith in God.” – Joash, 30
For Joash, this mission trip gave him a first: the Holy Spirit revealed specific words for him to speak into the lives of several youths in Kapit. “It was a level-up in my personal walk with God, learning to rely on the Holy Spirit and discern His voice,” he shares.
The 30-year-old chef also vividly remembers one session when 11 youth decided to give their lives to Jesus Christ, and how on Revival Nights, he witnessed the Holy Spirit breaking chains and restoring lives.
“The Holy Spirit’s moves were evident everywhere and in everyone, even among the youth. Throughout the journey, we could see the protection and favour by God in various circumstances and interactions with authorities, local people and those we were ministering to.”
Joash was also greatly encouraged by the passion, drive and perseverance shown by the local believers in Kapit, and touched by their warm fellowship and care throughout the trip. “It’s exciting to see how God is moving among the more rural areas… and in many cases, their bigger display of unity and faith in God.”
“We will always be busy with our studies and work schedule, but let’s make time for what matters to God and see Him come through.” – Pr Rachel
At the end of the five-day trip, the EPCC team could only look back and reflect on God’s faithfulness. Not only did several first-timers step up to lead workshops, but both the training and camp were fully conducted in Bahasa Malaysia (not the easiest for many!).
God also added to their itinerary, with ad-hoc morning devotions at 5am every day. Pr Rachel commends the team for stepping up in boldness to lead worship and devotion in obedience to the Spirit’s leading.
“There were youth leaders, workers and teachers in the local Kapit team who were struggling, the Holy Spirit moved and brought healing in their own hearts. We also saw the youth who were struggling with low self-esteem and who were not sure of their future leaving the camp assured and confident in God’s plan for them.”Pr Rachel koh
Pr Rachel also shares that throughout the trip and after, God protected every single person involved from Covid-19. Altogether, there were around 70 people on the campgrounds. It was a remarkable but unsurprising show of approval from the Lord in honour of their obedient hearts.
We often think we have to go overseas to share the Gospel, but God has brought seeking hearts to us
“Many times, we think that we need to go out of Malaysia to share the gospel. The reality is that God has brought people into our land for us to love, encourage and bring hope to. If we don’t seize the opportunity now, then when?”Pr Rachel KOH
The challenge, says Pr Rachel, is to live your life for a higher purpose. As Christ-followers, we have been given a mandate in Matthew 28:19-20 — to go and make disciples of all nations. To fulfil this commission, we must care for every person God places in our paths.
She encourages other working adults to consider joining similar short-term mission trips and use their giftings for God’s glory. “We will always be busy with our studies and work schedule, but let’s make time for what matters to God. People matter to God, that is why John 3:16 reminds us that He gave His life for all. Let’s be a generation that will continue to bring the gospel of Jesus to those around us.”
In the end, God’s heart for all of us is revealed
The EPCC team headed to Kapit with a heart to serve; in return, they gained so much themselves. “We are often afraid of trying new things because of our fears, and we always think we cannot do it. Remember that your life is a powerful testimony to what Jesus has done and is doing in your life. This is not an impossible mission,” shares Ashley.
Samuel chimes in to say that it is always a beautiful experience to see God transform lives through us. “He does it in ways different from what we’ve always known,” he adds.
For those seeking to become more missional in living out their faith, Joash’s advice is simply not to stress out over the ‘big’ things. “Don’t stress over… what you can or cannot do, what your peers have achieved in faith and life. The only thing we do is to focus on Jesus and know that it is the Holy Spirit who empowers and guides us to do the will of God,” he says.
As Ashley says, God is with us no matter where we go, what we do or who He places in our hearts. “You may not believe you have much to say, but you do. You may believe you have nothing to say, but God will use you. It may not be until you begin to share your faith that you see and experience God’s purpose in which He uses you to tell the world about Jesus.”
To learn more about EPCC and find out about upcoming mission trips, click here.
All photos provided by Joash Tan, EPCC Penang.