First Teaching Experiences in Penang

by Matthew Raley On Sunday, I preached in an international church in Penang, the beginning of an intense week of speaking.

The church meets in a hotel ballroom, and is a diverse group, reflecting the variety of people who live here. I met a professor from Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, a Malaysian Chinese who had been a student in the U.S., a South African couple, and several Canadians and Indians. There was also an American student who had grown up in Penang, but is now attending Simpson University, just an hour north of my home.

It was especially encouraging to see the open communication in this body of believers. There was a time of testimony in response to my sermon that set the tone for many conversations afterward. People hung around to talk for quite a while -- always a good sign for a church.

This morning, I spoke for about five hours at Malaysian Baptist Theological Seminary, with some short breaks. I did the first four sessions of my class on story-telling and biblical literature, and also preached in chapel.

My students are superb. They are Chinese, Korean, and Indian, with one American -- all ages, men and women. I am impressed by their understanding of the art of teaching, of the English language, and above all of the Bible. Right away they were asking pointed, informed, and perceptive questions. I haven't had such a good time teaching in a long, long while.

My sermon in chapel was my first experience speaking through a translator (Chinese). It took me a while to get the rhythm of it, but by the middle I felt that Miss Koh Tan Peng and I were working smoothly. The place was packed with people from all over the world, and Bridget and I were given a warm welcome.

Three things were of great help to me today: water, air-conditioning, and immediate unity with this body of believers.