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 (Manna 34: Facing Life's Challenges)
Journey into Sabah's Interior
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In the summer of 2000, a group of church members from Sabah accompanied Bro. Huang En Lin from Taiwan on a trip to Pesiangan, the heart of Sabah's interior. Bro. Huang En Lin was carrying out his thesis research on how the Murut (the natives of Sabah) embraced Christianity.

On July 2, 2000, we traveled to the True Jesus Church in Kapalarau, Sabah, East Malaysia, where Dn. Hsiao Rong Chan from Taiwan led a hymnal evangelical service. The church in Kampung (Malay for "village") Kapalarau is a beautiful, simple wooden building. It is situated deep inside the jungle, accessible via gravel roads and is without electricity or telephone facilities. Water is easily available from the nearby river. The congregation is primarily from the Murut tribe.

When we arrived at our destination, the Murut brethren, young and old alike, welcomed us warmly. They lined up in the church premises waiting to greet us with a heartwarming "Hallelujah!"

The church was packed to full capacity for the hymnal evangelical service, and many attendees had to stand around the entrance. At the concluding prayer, two people received the Holy Spirit, three saw visions, and many others were moved by the Holy Spirit.

From Sorcerer to Minister

In Kapalarau, Bro. Huang En Lin interviewed a man named Lumeh, a former bomoh (a native sorcerer or witch doctor). Lumeh told him how he often used to see a human skull flying around him. One day the skull said to him, "If you want to learn silat, just call out my name." (Silat is a kind of unarmed combat.) So Lumeh went into the jungle, and the skull instructed him on the art of silat.

Lumeh was then equipped with powerful skills. He wore a magical red amulet around his neck, and whenever he swung this amulet around, his enemies would also spin around until they lost consciousness. With the help of the evil spirit, he could stop a moving logging-truck just by touching it. He was even able to make himself invisible, and he would hitch rides into town without the driver noticing his presence.

Once, Lumeh was shot point-blank with a gun, but the bullets just bounced off his chest, leaving only scars. Lumeh unbuttoned his shirt to show the bullet scars.

Lumeh's wife was afflicted with mental illness, which was caused by an evil spirit. One day she fled into the jungle for about one week without food or water. She hid herself inside a big hole in a large tree, but Lumeh found her and brought her home. Pastor Titus, who happened to be on a pastoral visit there, prayed for her and preached to them about the Lord Jesus.

Later, Pastor Titus and four other preachers brought Lumeh's wife to the True Jesus Church in Keningau, which was about an hour's journey away. They fasted together for her for one week. After this, the evil spirit left her and she began to eat, drink, and wash herself.

Through his wife's healing, Lumeh and the Murut community in this village realized the existence and greatness of the Heavenly God. Lumeh repented and was baptized. He burned all of the evil things he had previously used to perform black magic. As he did this, he also saw a vision of many snakes spilling out of his mouth. After this, he and his wife began a new life.

Many years after his conversion, Lumeh was ordained a deacon of the True Jesus Church. He is now known as Deacon Lukius, and he ministers at the Kapalarau church.

God's Grace in Kampung Lima

The True Jesus Church at Kampung Lima in the district of Nabawan, Sabah, is an exemplary church among the Murut believers. The natives here are more educated, especially the younger generation. Many of them can read the Bible and sing from the hymnbook. About ninety percent of the Muruts in Kampung Lima are members of the True Jesus Church.

On July 25, 2000, Dn. Hsiao Rong Chan held a hymnal evangelism service at the local community hall. One thousand people attended, half of whom were truthseekers. There were not enough seats, and many had to stand by the sides of the hall and outside the entrance.

On the third night, truthseekers were invited to the church specifically to share on the subject of the Holy Spirit. There was a large turnout, and some believers had to stand outside the church hall in order to make room for the truthseekers.

During the prayer after the discussion, three truthseekers received the Holy Spirit, nine saw visions, and many others were moved by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Lord Jesus has worked silently in the midst of the native Muruts. He has given them the precious Holy Spirit as the sign of their inheritance of the kingdom of God as well as visions to strengthen their faith.

In one vision, a person saw a dove playing a flute near the pulpit, which was white. The dove's wings moved up and down like a conductor in a jovial mood. Another person saw a vision of the Lord Jesus' hands bearing the nail wounds. On each hand was a hole pierced by a nail.

A Murut sister, who was baptized in the True Jesus Church but occasionally attended other churches, saw a vision during that prayer. She saw a body that was half black and had a red eye. The dark half of the body said to her, "Your life is under my control." After this, a white sheet covered her face. The other half of the same body then became all white, and a voice said to her, "Your life is under my control."

This sister cried when she saw this vision. She asked the pastor what it could mean, since she did not understand it. The preacher advised her not to attend services at other churches again, and she repented.

Braving the Jungle and Rapids

We began our journey to the Pensiangan region, the heart of Sabah's interior, on August 4, 2000. Pr. Lemuel Leong, Bro. Huang En Lin, and a few others of us set off from Kota Kinabalu to Keningau and then to Kampung Lima.

From Kampung Lima we headed to Balantos in Pensiangan. We started very early in the morning in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, traveling up and down mountain terrain, and finally reached the riverbank of Balantos at night. When we arrived, Pastor Timothy was there with the church boats. The True Jesus Church in Balantos is a beautiful, simple wooden building, and all the believers are from the Murut tribe.

From there we went by boat to the prayer longhouse at Kampung Sinikaluan. There was a brother there named Pundas Tikus, whom the Lord healed of terminal liver cancer.

From there we traveled by boat to the other Murut churches in Kampung Sikiat, Kampung Bakalongan, Kampung Salungnai, Kampung Sakali, and finally to the most remote part, called Kampung Salinatan.

The last leg of the journey from Kampung Sakali onward was the most difficult. From the Sakali church we walked through the jungle and across steep and low mountains to the Sabin Nite prayer longhouse. We walked for six challenging hours under the hot sun. After we finally arrived, we held a service that night. During the prayer, four Muruts received the Holy Spirit, including a seven-year-old child. Some were also moved by the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord.

The next day we walked back to Sakali. By now, most of us had sunburns over the exposed parts of our bodies. Our legs ached, there were blisters on our feet, and many of us could not walk normally because we were so tired. But with the help and guidance of our Lord, we walked, ate, and drank together as a team.

The main mode of transportation to the churches in the remote region of Pensiangan is motorboats. We often traveled in dangerous waters, but it was under these precarious moments that we witnessed the guiding hands of God.

On one of these journeys, our boat ran up against some rocks. Pastor Timothy was thrown into the muddy water and disappeared under the surface. Thank God, after a few anxious moments, he managed to swim to the surface of the water without injury.

After this, the hull of the boat again ran up against some rocks, which caused the boat to rock heavily, like a rocking chair. A Murut sister named Theresa from Kampung Lima was thrown into the river. A brother quickly dived into the water and pulled her back into the boat. After coughing up the muddy water she had accidentally drank, she was fine. The two other Murut sisters who were with us broke down in tears. Thanks be to the Lord that He kept Theresa safe.

As we continued by boat along the rapids, the boat suddenly went out of control. It smashed against the big wall of rocks so hard that the boatsman, a Murut brother named Pension, was thrown off balance and hit the rocks full force. We could tell from the look on his face that he suffered great pain, but he endured it in silence for the Lord. Thanks be to the Lord Jesus, he only suffered a minor cut on his small toe.

At the times when the water in the river was too shallow, we had to climb out and give the boat a push or a pull to keep it going. The riverbed was full of jagged and slippery rocks, and when we lost our footing, our whole bodies would end up in the muddy water.

Many times the propeller of the outboard motor would hit against the rocky riverbed, which caused it to loosen and malfunction. We carried out the needed repairs with our only tool—a pair of ordinary pliers. In addition to this problem, the boat also leaked, and so we had to bail out water as quickly as possible.

After a physically demanding but spiritually enriching journey, we finally returned to Kota Kinabalu, tired but filled with thanks for the guidance of the Lord, for His special care, and for His great love. Praise be unto the Lord Jesus.

* Deacon Lukius shows his chest with bullet scars in Kapalarau
* True Jesus Church in Kampung Lima in Nabawan
* True Jesus Church boats in Pensiangan
* Crossing shallow, rocky river water is a must in certain parts of Pensiangan
* Walking across one of the log bridges to Sabin Nite in Pensiangan
* A part of Sabin Nite in Pensiangan

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Publisher: True Jesus Church