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“Would 20,000 people really come when the weather and field conditions are at their worst?” – Isabel Heng, 16, on her experience at Malam Pentakosta 2023

By Isabel Heng

Malam Pentakosta 2023 was held in Kuching, Sarawak in early September 2023. Over 32,000 people gathered across the two nights, with many finding Jesus Christ and others encountering Him in a special way. Isabel, 16, was a volunteer with the social media team; here, she shares her own story.

Isabel, who is active in her youth group at her home church in Kuala Lumpur, travelled to Kuching to volunteer for Malam Pentakosta with her parents. Photo Credit: Isabel Heng

When I headed over to Kuching to serve in social media for Malam Pentakosta 2023, my role was simple: to go around, shoot footage, edit and post. I honestly didn’t expect much, but strangely at the same time had an expectancy within me, if that makes sense.

My parents were also going to serve, and it wasn’t the first time they attended or served in a rally like this, so they were telling me what might happen and to prepare myself spiritually. They said it could be much more than what I’m used to, and to prepare myself spiritually. But I couldn’t really picture or imagine what they meant, so I just went prepared to do whatever I was told without expecting anything specific.

On the day before the first rally, the stadium was already super muddy and it was also drizzling a bit. I just lowkey thought, “Will there really be 20,000 people coming when the weather and field conditions are literally at their worst?”

It turned out there really would be, and more than 20,000 in the end. On both days, it was raining really heavily for an hour or so but people still came in, still stayed in their seats, hiding under their jackets, umbrellas and raincoats, but still worshipping and praising God. They were lifting their hands, clapping, standing and jumping in the mud. What was even crazier was that some even took of their shoes to stand in ankle-deep mud, just to be able to jump more easily while worshipping.

And then when Ps Philip Mantofa gave an altar call, so many people ran and knelt in the mud, young people and old, serving and not serving, all responding because they could feel God’s presence so clearly. On the second day, when we were asked to hold each others’ hands, even grandmothers and the sick in wheelchairs held their hands straight up. I could tell they were all so desperate and hungry for God that nothing could stop them from pursuing and drawing closer to Him, whether a physical disability or different mindset. Standing in the middle of it all, trying to get footages, I was moved. And it made me cry a little, which someone captured in a photo so I can’t deny it!

Isabel having her own God encounter whilst serving during Malam Pentakosta 2023.

I came to Malam Pentakosta thinking I’d just shoot, edit, post, eat some nice Kuching food and do my job. But watching the people being so desperate motivated me to shoot and capture as much as I could; it gave me such joy knowing I’m witnessing and capturing miracles, healings, God encounters and people’s hearts being changed.

My time in Kuching showed me what it really means to put God first, and that there is really nothing stopping me from pursuing and going after Him. Whether we have a good praise and worship set or not, aircon or fan, fancy environment or dilapidated building, whether I had lunch or not (!), on fire or just not feeling it, these things shouldn’t distract or hinder me from just fully praising and pursuing God the best I can. He really does deserve our praise and honour, no matter what it costs.

The experience also opened my eyes to realise that Jesus and the spiritual world are very much real, and that it’s important to guard my heart and be self-aware of what’s going on in my life, whether things are of God or if they are drawing me away from Him, or if the environment I’m in is pushing me closer to God or not. It’s always better to get rid of anything that isn’t of God before it pulls us away from Him completely.

One last thing I want to share is to encourage everyone to not be afraid of being hungry for God. There is really nothing stopping you from chasing after Him and His goodness.

All photos provided by MP23 Documentation team unless otherwise noted.

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