"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."
A Hundred Years Ago...
Tawau, initially a small immigrant village, was founded in 1898, with the establishment of a settlement. This was followed by Chinese settlers. Right from the very beginning the prosperity of Tawau was mainly due to its agricultural potential, which is evident even today.
The Anglican Church in Tawau began with the opening of mission school in 1917. Before that, from 1913, the residents only had quarterly pastoral visits from an Anglican Chaplain, Rev. T.C. Alexander, who was stationed in Sandakan. The first residential priest, Rev. Vun Nen Vun, came in 1927. A school with a separate sanctuary was built in 1929 and dedicated to St. Patrick.Watering...
The early years of the church saw much hardship and difficulties, especially during the Japanese occupation. From 1929-1954, there were only 4 years that an ordained minister was stationed in Tawau. After the War the first recorded service was in August 1951, with a congregation of 9 in the English service and 80 in the Chinese service.
The first C.M.S. missionary from Australia, Rev. Walter Newmarch, was sent to Tawau in 1954 and served until 1968. During that period, mission activities extended to Lahad Datu, Segama, Semporna, Kalabakan, Wallace Bay and the estate regions in Tawau towards the Merotai area. Rev. Walter Newmarch emphasised on teaching and lay participation in the church. The English and Chinese work gre as many priests came and went in succession over the years. The Bahasa Malaysia work was started in 1960 to meet the needs of the growing number of Indonesian Christians who came to Tawau to work.
The present St. Patrick's Church building work began in 1961, while the rectory and parish hall were built under the incumbency of Rev. Alan McMohon from 1980-1985. Under his pastorate, the people learnt to tithe faithfully and saw God's increase in blessings and supplies. The church grew in obedience to God's word.Growing...
When Archdeacon Yong Ping Chung ( currently Bishop of Sabah) arrived in Tawau in 1985, the vision of a second church was realised with the building of the Good Tidings Church in Kuhara. Worship services in Mandarin began in 1990. The chinese congregation grew significantly from then on. The church continued to play an important role in the mission schools, St. Patrick's Secondary and Primary Schools and the Kindergarten.
By the time Rev. Albert Vun ( currently Archdeacon Albert Vun) was sent to Tawau in November 1990, the church had grown to a congregation of about 700 ( Hakka 146, Good Tidings 95, English 205, BM 249). Ministries at that time included home Bible study groups, Sunday Schools, Young Adults' Fellowship, Youth Fellowship, Women's Fellowshio, Old Folks' ministry, Choir, and the Girls' and Boys' Brigade. The rector of St. Patrick's was also responsible for St. Matthew's in Semporna, St. Augustine's in Merotai, and the churches in Serudung Baru, Ulu Kalabakan and Ulu Merotai.
At the end of 1992, leaders in St. Patrick's Church felt the Lord's leading towards becoming a Cell Church. Thus began a period of transition, when many of the programme-based ministries had to be reorganised and integrated into cell groups. By the grace of God the difficult years of transition were overcome. Today, we have 245 cell groups actively ministering to their members.
Now, in our 5the year as a Cell Church, ministries are all centred around the cell groups; adult, youth, children and senior citizen's cells. Sunday worship services are the celebration gatherings of the whole church, with the main teaching carried out in the preaching during the services. Our ministries now include the Student Touch Centre and the Resource Centre. All these seve the members of the church and also community. Over the last three years, five new congregations have been planted; two BM outreach congregations in Apas road, a Student Touch Centre near Kuala Lumpur, a Chinese and a BM congregation in Taman Semarak. Evangelism, a very vital part of the Cell Church vision, is carried out at cell group level, as well as regular EE III training and visits.
In 1995, with 5 separate services every Sunday at St. Patrick's, the growing congregations necessitated the proposal of a large building to extend the fciliteis of the church. The church came together to raise the funds for the new building. The additional help of a government grant and a Diocesan loan meant that this vision could be realised sooner. By October 1997, the newly built House of Prayer for All Nations was ready for use. What better way to praise and glorify God then to begin with the first Sabah Worship Conference.Vision...
The House of Prayer was so named in obedience to the vision that God wants our church to be a praying church, not only for tawau and Sabah, but for all nations. As the church moves towards being a mission-sending church, members are encouraged to be equipped in the areas of prayer and intercession, evangelism, healing, counselling and deliverance, as well as leadership training.
The Cell Church is very much a lay mininstry while the senior pastor and other pastors concentrate on teaching, training and "the equipping of the saints". In this way, we have seen a great increase in the number of trained and highly capable lay leaders in the church. Evangelism, nurture, visitation and pastoral care are mobilized through the cell gorups, with the cell leaders being the actual pastors of the groups.
With this new strategy, the church has experienced increased growth.
Over the years, we have learnt to wait upon God for a fresh vision for every new season. That would become the church's focus for that particular year. Each year we would see that particular aread experiencing a breakthrought. For in stance, when we received the word " Be Fruitful and Multiply" for 1995, that year we saw a majoy increase in new believers.
In the year of 1993, the church attendance shows we have 873 congregations. Now, we have more than 2200 congregations.
The vision of the church progressed from
1995 - The Year of Fruitfulness ( Be Fruitful and Multiply)
1996 - The Year of Equipping
1997 - The Year of Prayer
1998 - Power, Love and Discipline
1999 - Towards a mission-sending church.
The vision statement in 1998 moves the Tawau Anglican Church towards fulfilling the Great Commission:
" To built a Cell Church strong in power, love and discipline, where every member is trained and mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission."
2 Tim 1:7 " For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipine."