(Pr Hock, Jinny and their beloved family need no introduction, but still, as they prepare to relocate to Miri in a year’s time, it’s only fitting for us to get some first hand news from the proverbial horse’s mouth, here goes….)
- Over the past years, Pr Hock, what are some of the fond memories you’ve had in New Life?
I believe I would take up the entire bulletin because this means the last 22 years being in New Life so I will capture the key thing that I value the most in New Life. I would have to say that I really enjoyed my time when I first came to know the Lord and growing with the youth. We did many things together and that was before the time of social media so hanging out really means like coming out for mamak to meet each other. I had many crazy memories together with my good buddies like Ben and Vince, trying to be a good Samaritan by helping out a drunken guy by the road till we didn’t get any sleep the whole night. Faith was very radical and was put into action. It’s not just something that you say but you do as well. But over the years, I learn to understand that I am emotionally connected when I talk to people. So I really enjoy talking to different ones over a meal, whether if it’s a serious topic or a casual catch up. I think that I would miss some burger time with the young people especially since I have seen many ‘generations’ of youth but our Ramly burger have always been consistently around and have never changed over the last 22 years. Having that and just talking about life with them are some of the fond memories of friendship and relationship that have been built.
- Being the face of the young generation, what are some lessons you’ve learned along your journey that you’d like to impart to the next generation?
This sounds scary but I think being the face of the young generation is basically whether you are willing to die for them or not. Let me give you a true story during my early days as a youth pastor. There was a father of a girl who came to the church office to look for me saying that his daughter is going for a camp and there’s a boy who liked her who is going for the camp too. So I had a life threatening moment by the concerned father saying that if anything happened to the girl in the camp, “My blood will be in his hand”. As much as we do ministry work and lead, I think it’s really being there for them.
My journey has been quite unique as I led the youth group in different stages of my life. I first started by just being a friend and being there for them. And later on, I became a father. Some of them now are the children of some of the youth I grew together with, so I became a father figure to them – the fatherly figure to direct them to what is needed.
I think that being the face of the youth is to create stability to let the parents know that there is someone there for your children. But I would also like to take this opportunity to tell that as much as the church and youth leaders try to disciple and help them grow in Christ, they can only be a successful disciple of Christ when their parents and family are involved in the whole thing. So parents, you all have to do your work.
It’s a generation they would have to fight for themselves. They have to rise up to see that it’s no longer Pr Hock that will be there but they are actually in the position of influence and making a difference for the people who are younger than them. Especially to all the young adults in their 20s, even though you might have challenges in your own life, you can make a difference in the younger generation and be there for them.
- As a pastor and a father of 4, we believe you have some good values and beliefs that you practise in raising a godly family at home. Could you share some with us?
My 4th one has not arrived, so technically I am a father of 3 (and the 4th is on the way). I have to say that I’m still learning and exploring because my first is only seven(7) years old but one thing that I have observed is that every one of them has a very different personality so I really don’t think there is a fixed way to help them grow spiritually because different ones just learn things differently. So I am trying to break out of the traditional way of being a Christian family as we always try to impose on them a Christian ritual – do things that Christians do without really teaching them why we do it. For example: Every parent will try to teach their children to give thanks for the food and will find it cute that they do. I personally think it’s good as I get my children to do it too but my concern is what if their prayer life stops at just giving thanks for the food and they’re not able to see the reality and the power of prayer?
Another ‘downside’ in growing up in a Christian family (which I’m thinking how to answer to them as well) is praying and expecting God to answer their prayer. But the expectation sometimes is not about God answering their prayer but experiencing God. For example: My son is having some difficulties in his studies and exam. I pray for him before he goes for his exam and asks God to help him. He came back a little disappointed because he was weak in the subject and felt God didn’t really help him as much as he expected. As Christians, we always say God will help you. So I have to take time to explain to him that as much as God is there to help us, we have our responsibility to do our part, to study. I’m glad I manage to take a lot of time to talk to them, to converse with them and understand what they are thinking. But what if a father or mother who missed out on that opportunity to answer their children that question, what will they think about God? What will they think about prayer? There is no shortcut with that, it’s the amount of time spent interacting with them. Not just talking about bible stories but about how to get God involved in their lives and be a life example that they will see and learn. I learn to be open to them. Apologize to them even through our weakness, to let them know that their father who is a pastor is not perfect too and their father needs God. So how much more they need Him too. We need to show them the reality and to see our dependence on God, that’s very important.
- During your ups and downs, how did you stay motivated and grow in your faith and walk with God? With that, share an experience with us.
I can only share from my perspective how I relate to God because there might be different ones who will relate to God differently but certain foundation must be there. For example: Our idea / thinking /concept which we call theology about God must be right.
For me, there are many ups and downs and I am a person who likes to talk things through but I am blessed to be surrounded by godly people who are my friends/peers/spiritual leaders/mentors that I can just bounce off ideas and pray together. I have to give credit to my wife, who is the super positive woman in my life that in any down time especially during the time when I felt so terrible during my study time, she’s always the one who’d encourage me.
And one thing we should never compromise is to get the personal word and revelation through the word of God. I remember there was one time I was really down with what I call ‘postnatal depression’ with the second child, that I really don’t know how to cope. I turned to Matthew 9 and the Lord just say that I am a God who can do all these miracles. Can’t you believe that I can be real in your personal life? Just the word itself without any bible study group or YouTube sermon ministered to me.
And recently I also went through an ‘identity crisis’, to think of how I want to continue this journey of faith. I just feel that the word that encouraged me is that my life belongs to the Lord and He is the one who is going to define me rather than the people and the circumstances. With that, it broke certain intimidation and fear in my heart and released me to get back to God. To summarize, people that the Lord have put around me, the word of God and also the prayer from people who are like-minded encourage me to seek God for direction and get me back to the “up” time with the Lord.
- What are your plans when you return to Miri?
This is probably the toughest question because as much as I sense that there is such a drawing back to Miri which is in East Malaysia, I don’t have a complete plan that I can present to anyone. But when I was praying and seeking the Lord, I just feel that I need to close this chapter of my life so that the Lord will truly open new doors. Having said that, my wife and I have the desire and heart for the family ministry. Marriages and young families will definitely be something we want to be connected with. So I have been talking to different ministries and it seems like the doors are opening. For some reason, there is a parenting organization that is looking to start their base in Miri as it can be an access to a neighboring country that the gospel may not be able to be accessed so easily. Also, we are just looking for an exciting adventure, like how Noah built the ark without a clear leading or how Abraham went forth not having an exact location to where he’s heading. So the step of faith may not be so clear but we have certain framework that I’d like to be involved in ministries that would minister to others. Me and Jinny, our prayer is very simple – just give us some people to welcome and love. I believe we are praying for some families that we can connect with, families that we can build life with and families that we can share the gospel and disciple along the way.
- On behalf of the church, we would like to say THANK YOU for all that you’ve done – the pastoral care, the support, the discipleship – for all these years. We are forever in gratitude and for this, how can New Life, your home church, pray for you and your family?
I hope this is not the farewell message because we will still be here for a whole year. But in this transition for myself and Jinny, as we uproot ourselves to a whole new place, I think we just need God to continue to guide and lead us. Open doors for ministries and business opportunities. We will definitely go into the direction of bi-vocational, so we can support ourselves and the ministry. I just don’t want to do a business for business sake so hopefully something that will be for God’s purpose. Also, pray for the children as it will be a huge transition for them especially my boy, 7 and my girl, 4. They have their LifeKids program here, so they’ll definitely miss their LifeKids church because we’re honestly not sure which church we will be connected with. So pray for us to find a church or a ministry partner that we can work with and grow together. I really desire that the relationship that we have built over the years will continue as I am one who has a great emphasis on the friendship over a cup of coffee, so hopefully when we come back here we’d be able to find some friends to have coffee and burger.