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SANDAKAN: The Star of Yahweh Covenant Community (SYCC) of St Mary’s Cathedral organized a program with the intention of reaching out to the students of Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) Sandakan on Sunday afternoon 28 June, 2015. The session was held at the Parish Conference Room. It was a simple easy going informal session of 4 hours and the outcome was positive.
The session had left a good impression on the 24 students and two accompanying Catholic teachers from the college. There are 46 MRSM Catholic students registered in the college coming from across the state. Their teachers in-charge, a husband and wife pair, Dominic James and Marry Lalim, have been their spiritual advisers. The two Catholic teachers are not just responsible in gathering all the Catholic students there but they also assist in arranging transport for the students to attend Sunday Mass either in St Mark’s Church or in St Mary’s Cathedral. In order for them to fulfill their Sunday obligation, they will have to rent mini buses to get to the church.
The session started with everyone getting together through an ice-breaker game which continued with a Praise and Worship slot. Michael Lai, the SYCC elder shared on the topic of “Who is Jesus to you?”
The talk focused on guiding the students towards encountering Jesus that they may grow in faith. It is hoped that their well-grounded faith may prepare them to withstand any challenges should their faith be questioned. After the talk, the students were divided into 5 groups for short discussion. Members of the community joined in the groups as facilitators, engaging the students to share openly on how Jesus has touched their life.
The SYCC youth presented a creative sketch during the intermission. Although it was comical but the message was clear for as teenager they would encounter problems in life but not to lose heart as there is always Jesus to journey with them. The session concluded with inspired sharing by a member of the community and from the students as well. It was encouraging to see the strong interaction between the community and the students. There was no age barrier between them even though there are students as young as 13 and member of the community as old as 73. There was neither language nor race barrier as everybody participated wholeheartedly in one way or another.
When the SYCC initiated this reaching out session, they merely wanted the students to feel welcome by the local church in Sandakan as well as promoting a sense of belonging. As they are far away from their family and their home church, the Catholic community in Sandakan is concerned for their journey of faith while pursuing their study in the district.
The recent prevalent incidents of Christian students converting to other faith without the knowledge of their parents, has driven SYCC to take the lead in reaching out to the outstation students. In order to help the church, the many groupings, ministries or communities are welcome to join SYCC in a continuous concerted effort in reaching out to the target group.
Such cooperation would definitely help to nourish the lives of these outstation Christian students, building a strong moral and spiritual foundation. Through a concerted effort by all parties in imparting Christian doctrine and faith formation, the students would be empowered to get through tough time in protecting their own faith. It is hoped that this kind of program would be carried out monthly not only as a fellowship but to strengthen our students’ faith as well as for the SYCC members to spread the Good News and share the love of Christ with others. – Susanna Cordova