With just over 20 worshippers on a regular Sunday service, the odd stranger or two that stroll through the doors of KLANG EFC are warmly welcomed and heartily embraced. Here, the people worship God enthusiastically, even if the worship band comprises no more than a lone guitarist. Indeed, the presence of God can be felt throughout the service, from the worship to the preaching.
It may be so easy to miss, with our earthly eyes, the purpose and significance of a 30-year church with only 20-oddregular worshippers; however, the church’s chairman, Patrick Chee, is convinced God has never been absent or far from this faithful congregation. “I’ve never questioned why we should keep Klang EFC going, despite the small number,” he said. “God planted this church with a purpose… I only ask myself this question: ‘What and how can I serve God better’?”
Sheep without shepherd
At the prompting of newlywed couple Peter Yap and Yoke Lan, God led EFC missionary Rev. Loyd Childs to form a church planting team comprising two other couples, Mr and Mrs Archie Sitther, Mr and Mrs Chin Miew Lim, and a young adult, Wong Hon Wai, to plant Klang EFC in 1982. During the early days, the core group of young but fervent believers met weekly with Rev. Childs and his wife, Helen, for training sessions and worship at a house. When the congregation grew to nearly 30 attendees, they moved to a rented shop lot for their weekly services.
However, while the church was still in its infancy, Rev. Childs and Helen had to return to their home country in the US, leaving the group without a shepherd. “In a way, the Childs’ departure left us like orphans for many years, and this contributed to our church’s weakness over the years,” recalled Yoke Lan.
With no pastor to helm the church, the leaders struggled to juggle their career, family and ministry. As couples with young families, they were overwhelmed, as they felt thrust into taking on leadership and pastoral roles without warning.
Despite their many struggles and disappointments, God has honoured the faithfulness and perseverance of His servants in Klang EFC. “There have been many times when we felt like giving up, but at every breaking point, God miraculously sent someone to our aid, and that kept us going for another stretch, and another,” Peter said. For example, soon after the Childs’ departure, God’s aid came in the form of the church’s first pastor, Ngo Tak Keng, a young Malaysian Bible Seminary (MBS) graduate. For two years, Ngo, a father of two children, focused on building up the church members. When his contract ended, the church was again left without a pastor for several years. God then sent a fresh graduate from Singapore Bible College who ministered to the youth of the church. This young graduate also taught guitar to a 10-year old boy, who then went on to serve in the worship ministry till today.
This pastor-less trend continued throughout the church’s history, forcing members to rely heavily on Christ the Solid Rock, and not on their own strength and wisdom. It was after all, God’s church, and He was not going to abandon it.
During the pastor-less years, help came in the form of visiting speakers from other
EFC churches and from a well-established pastor who conducted marriage counselling for the couples in the congregation. All these encouraged the church to soldier on. Though the congregation grew slowly, if at all, the members grew in their personal faith as they were forced to take on leadership roles from the onset of their spiritual journey.
During the early days of Klang EFC, the parents ran the Sunday School classes with the limited resources they had. When Klang EFC could no longer run their children’s ministry due to shortage of manpower, their members’ children attended Sunday School classes at a nearby church. The leaders expressed their gratefulness that their lack was met through the resources of another church.
In the 1990s, a young couple joined Klang EFC and brought much needed encouragement and help to the church leadership then. As a young couple then, the Chees gave the longer-serving members the energy boost they needed to carry on. Today, Patrick is the chairman of the church and has seen the hand of God leading him and his family to stronger faith as they made the choice to plant their roots at Klang EFC.
Though Klang EFC has limited ministry opportunities, church members find other avenues to serve and impact others. Both Patrick and Susan have found ways to grow their faith through regular attendance and leadership roles at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). Another is involved as a volunteer serving as an Online Missionary with Global Media Outreach Ministry, an organisation based in the US. Similarly, other church members find ways to serve in other ministries such as the Klang Migrant Ministry and an old folk’s home. Serving outside the church helps them to be better equipped to serve within the church. Susan hopes that one day she can spearhead a children’s ministry at Klang EFC with the BSF training she has received.
In the early 1990s, Klang EFC reached a significant milestone when it purchased, using the EFC Revolving Fund loan, its own premises at Taman Klang Jaya where it is still located. Through the building, the church agreed to be the home to a newly-established Chinese congregation under the leadership of Preacher Lee Hong Eng.
Operating as an affiliate of Klang EFC with a separate church government, the Chinese congregation’s presence has greatly encouraged the Klang EFC members. Under the leadership of Lee for almost 15 years, the Chinese congregation now has some 50 members and 35 Sunday school children.
Facing the future
After 14 pastor-less years, God finally sent Pastor Tan Cheng Leng to Klang EFC in August 2012. A passionate and spirit-led leader, Tan envisions Klang EFC as a church that blesses the community. For a start, he is bringing the existing members together through regular cell group and prayer gatherings.
He believes in strengthening God’s temple through the power of prayer and God’s Word. In return, the church members have responded eagerly and in unity. Together as a church, they are praying for God to work in powerful ways through Klang EFC.
Indeed, though the church has seen many difficult years where the leaders have struggled to continue serving in the face of personal struggles and doubts, God has remained faithful to the church and His people.
The fruit of the church is evident in the quiet and faithful lives of its members – whether it is in a 60-year old grandmother who single-handedly cared for six young children while instilling godly values in them; or in a young 30-something member who chooses to serve faithfully in small ways instead of hopping to the more attractive mega churches; or in the faithful women who conduct weekly BSF classes for children; or in a senior citizen who believes and sees great potential in the next generation; or in a 40-something man who asks “How can I serve the church?” rather than “What can the church offer me?”; or in a faithful couple who have sacrificed the prime of their lives to building God’s church despite the setbacks they faced, and who are still holding on.
All these lives speak volumes about the kind of church that God desires to build at Klang EFC. Perhaps, it may never be a large church, but it is a church that makes an impact through the quiet lives of its members – a place where God works behind the scenes to shape and mould His children to be Christ-like.
Nobody knows for sure where Klang EFC will be 10 years from now, but one thing the church leaders can agree wholeheartedly is that God has a purpose and plan in forming Klang EFC, and He will not abandon it.
All they need to do is trust and obey Him.