by Rev. Ebenezer David
I have been attending church since I was a child and my earliest memory was that of me attending the congregation of Good Shepherd (ELCMS) in Old Town Petaling Jaya together with my parents every Sunday evening. At that time we did not have our own building and so we used the premises of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (LCMS) located at Jalan Othman. After many years of continuous usage of the premise, the leadership decided to seek out another building and in the late 1970’s we were privileged to own a single storey bungalow house at No. 32, Jalan 1/12 46000.
The membership was about 30 and most of us were from the Petaling Jaya district. We only had one Sunday service, which was in the Tamil language and the time was from 9:00am to 10:00am. The adults and children came together to participate in the first part of the service before the sermon but during the sermon, all the children left the main hall to another room to attend Sunday School whereas the adults continued with the service from sermon to the benediction, which is the closing prayer. After which the children were also dismissed from our classes. Once my contemporaries and myself reached our teenage years, there were no more classes and so all of us only attended the Sunday service. There were no young adult activities and programs or Bible Study classes at that time. So I only had one meeting to attend for the whole week.
In 1986, Rev. Joseph T. John, who was an ordained Lutheran pastor, was posted to this church. He came together with his family to start their ministry. In that year I was 17 years old and was sitting for my SPM exams. Rev. Joseph started Bible Study and Prayer meeting in 1987 on a weekday in the evening. I was able to attend because I was waiting for my exam results and I had not started any other studies at that time. The attendance was very poor and so Sister Vanitha approached and invited the members to attend but many gave various excuses. There was one man who was agitated by the invitation and made a statement that, ‘Bible Study is only for women and children.” This did not discourage us but we continued regularly with a small number. Rev. Joseph would usually pick up an elderly aunty from her house for this prayer meeting and will send her back later. So those who attended regularly were Rev. Joseph and his family, the elderly aunty and I. We continued for almost 2 years and sometimes there were two or three that will attend but they were not consistent.
However, our regular Bible Study and prayer meeting were not in vain. With the teaching of various passages from the Bible given by Rev. Joseph and combined together with intercession prayer, God began to manifest His power of healing and deliverance. New people began to attend because of miracles and deliverance. It was during this period I began to experience God’s presence and His call upon my life. There was a deep yearning to see people coming into salvation. God was preparing me for full time ministry. I began to study the Bible more intently and discovered the work of God the Holy Spirit. I had the Pentecostal experience during this period.
The church also started new ministries. In 1988, we started off the English language service and we met every Saturday evening. Although there were about 12 members initially but we were excited with the move of God and over time we also began to see new people attending. Eventually all the teenagers wanted to have a Youth meeting on Saturday and we started coming about two hours earlier by public transport to meet before the English service started. Many of those teenagers are now married and have their own children attending Sunday School and Youth meetings. We also had a house meeting in Sungai Buloh, where the families were from the estate areas and we met every Fridays. We continued for about one year and those who attended wanted us to get a shop lot to start a church but at that time we were not financially strong and therefore we advised them to attend another church in their locality. They agreed to go to the other church but with a condition that when we are financially strong then we should come back again.
In 1990, there was a change in the leadership of the church when a new committee were elected as the church local council. With this new committee, we were able to bring massive changes to the church life. The English service became one of our main services and it was rescheduled to meet every Sunday at 11: 30am. Till now both the language services has seen a great growth. Attendance for Bible study and prayer meetings also increased tremendously because of the hunger and thirst for God’s word. During worship we begin to use scripture choruses and some contemporary Christian songs. The services became lively and many youths began to be involved in the music team. Worship must be freely expressed from ones heart.
Our motto was ‘JESUS SAVES HEALS DELIVERS.” We were actively involved in healing and deliverance ministry. Rev. Joseph and Sister Vanitha also spent most of their time in visitation and counselling. I had the opportunity to witness and be a part of the many healing and deliverance cases. It was a new experience for me but God moulded me and prepared me for ministry. All this led to membership growth and on Sunday there were many Bible Study and Sunday School classes. Due to the limitation of space in the building, many had to meet outside the building under the umbrellas. Some called us the ‘Umbrella Church’
We also had many house meetings in different places and many church leaders helped to manage these groups. God was moving and the reality of God was experienced. Many left their former faith because of the great changes that happen in their family. I thank God that from the beginning, He brought families to the church.
In 1993, Rev. Johnathan A. D. John, who was an ordained Lutheran pastor and was at that time serving in the Port Dickson church resigned and joined us as Associate Pastor. He is Pastor Joseph’s younger brother and he also had the Pentecostal experienced. God began to expand the church ministry with both the pastors. Around this time we applied to be affiliated to the Assemblies of God of Malaysia. God began to bless us financially and we decided to start an outreach work in Sungai Buloh. The move of God was also evident in the outreach work. There were many deliverance and healing cases.
I entered the Bible College of Malaysia in 1994 and graduated in 1998. In 1999 the Good Shepherd church in PJ Old Town and Sg. Buloh were accepted into the Assemblies of God and our registered name was Good Shepherd Assembly of God. It was during this time that the Power Praise Kids Church (PPKC) started in March 1999. This is a service for children aged between 4 and 12 years and they met every Saturday at 10:30am. Through this program, many children’s lives were transformed and this made the parents to attend church. The Youth Ministry also started with the emphasis on worship and fellowship. Many talented musicians were produced. A shop lot was rented for purpose of Youth service and office.
In 2000, we started to rent one lot on the 11th Floor of the Menara Mutiara Majestic located at Jalan Othman because the house building could no longer accommodate the large number of people. Eventually in 2001, we proceeded to rent the other lot on the 11th floor and moved everything completely from the house building and the shop lot. In May 2002, the Good Shepherd Assembly of God was set in order to be a Sovereign Church by the Central District Superintendent, Rev. Yee Tham Wan. At that time, there were many places around Sg. Buloh that began to be developed and many churches began to start in the Sg. Buloh area. The church members at that time wanted a morning Sunday service which was not possible for the pastors because of the main services in PJ. So the members decided for the outreach to be closed down and many travelled to PJ for morning services. Many who were Sunday School children grew up started work and had their own transport to travel to church. There were also some members who went to the other churches.
From the early years, we have always prayed for our own building and many contributed towards the building fund. In 2004, Rev. Graham Baker from Australia requested for funds to support the work in Vanuatu. The church approved to give an amount equivalent to one tenth of the total building fund collected at that time. Rev. Johnathan and Sis.Rani were chosen to represent the church to deliver the funds to the leaders of the church in Vanuatu. After they came back, God begin to stir the leadership to look for a new building. We went around the PJ Old Town vicinity looking for a place. There were many offers that came but nothing really materialized. However after much prayer and searching, God opened the door miraculously for Rev. Joseph and Sis.Vanitha to meet the developer of Hedgeford Innovation Park in 2008. We found favour in the eyes of the developer by God’s grace to help us to acquire No. 3, Hedgeford Innovation Park, Lorong Tandang B. Mr. Fong Loong Cheong and Mr. Soon Hoe Chuan were instrumental in the whole process of acquiring this new building, even though we have never met them before. They assisted us with the obtaining of the bank loan and also freely provided extensive building renovation before we moved in. This is God’s favour and His reward to everyone who tirelessly and diligently serve Him.
Today in our own building, we have the liberty to organise many types of programs and also allow others to use our premises. We thank God for this great miracle that He has bestowed on us.
Today – My Family and I in GSAG