After nearly 3 years trying to grow the Gospel in the Klang Valley from within a major denomination and being hampered repeatedly,
Robin had worked out that the best way to achieve those goals would be with a new church.
His last day in that ministry, was August the 31st, and became subsequently the Foundation Day for CERC.
From Sept to the year’s end, a small group of Christians converted or discipled through Robin’s work began to meet in the home of Joy’s parents to study the book of Joshua.
In the meantime, No 26 had been given by God’s grace and renovation works were proceeding the hall would soon be the new church’s first gathering place.
A place for preaching God’s sovereign grace without fear or favour
On the 4th of January the first public meeting was held.
Robin preached on Colossians. The first sermon was titled appropriately, ‘To the holy and faithful of the Gospel’.
It was a real ‘do what we can with what we have’ church plant.
Adriel was perched at the staircase to capture video.
Sunday School was done in a small room up the spiral staircase with the Gan children.
Joy was on piano with Latimer in between.
The hall had filled with visitors.
CERC Sundays were a reality.
Growth was challenging
for a small church
After the visitors had left, there was only a small group of 12.
But the goals were clear. A membership course was started. It was nearly as hard as it is now for the candidates.
Little People was launched for evangelism to parents and children.
Robin preached the next series, and the next.
We started CERC Camp in that very first year.
Also, Women Encouraging Women.
Eventually CERC on Sunday was actually large enough that another place might actually be needed.
Growing by God’s Word
Evangelistic nights were especially full. CERC people were active in inviting others to hear the truth.
In 2010 began for the first time in Malaysia, a ministry apprenticeship like the one in MTS Australia.
Robin had trained under Phillip Jensen in St. Matthias and Campus Bible Study, UNSW, and was now ready to attempt raising a new generation of Church Ministers, beginning with Jerome.
Starting with the same name, MTS, it would eventually be renamed CMA.
Moving out to move up:
In 2011 it was clear we needed to move out again. At first nothing seemed available. A last minute phone call revealed an opportunity with the corner lot nearby. We made the move.
Again, we did a lot of work ourselves. Finances as always, were tight.
But the larger space and the two floors soon proved their worth easily.
Student numbers had been growing steadily and ministry needs as well — the multiple rooms today are used for administration, meetings, bible studies, a youth room, a studio, a kitchen and a staff office.
We even built rooms to accommodate our growing number of apprentices.
It came with a baptism pool, so many of us were actually baptized in a pool right next to the church kitchen!
We could also especially serve the Gospel by helping to house the equipment of a holiday camp that had been started for evangelizing youths, WWSC.
And the hall space was great for dinner evangelism, and skits!
In 2012 we introduced ‘Introducing God’ which brought a 2 Ways To Live style dinner evangelism to Malaysia.
Subsequently we created a new platform called Geddit for speaking to our friends about the Gospel over a meal and with accompanying thought provoking content. It would reach more than 1000 unique newcomers in 4 years.
Again, we did all the work inhouse, and saved hundreds of thousands of ringgit in the process.
We also performed some interesting and humorous skits to get people thinking!
The move up to North West:
In 2014 the time was ripe for us to venture into a new location, and offer a morning meeting. It would accommodate the growth in numbers, as well as provide a possible place for ministry to students in the North West area of Klang Valley.
This campus congregation eventually grew to nearly fill the hall, and we renovated again to accommodate this growth.
But the Sunday School children still needed more space by the end of 2017.
Our first apprentice was now ready for theological training, and with the recommendation of Dr. Stephen Wellum, we committed to the hugely costly undertaking for both his undergraduate and M.Div qualifications.
It was a first step in this direction that our little church was taking but one of many in our pursuit of a faithful and qualified generation of pastors who could handle the Word ministry here in Malaysia.
Jerome, our first apprentice
We also had the first volunteer who would serve the church fulltime for a period in a scheme known as Basic Ministry Training.
It was to give Christians an opportunity to taste the work of fulltime ministry, a gentler version of CMA.
Hoe, our first volunteer in BMT
‘Wait...what?’ was what
Our goal of growing theological understanding in the Klang Valley was being pursued as a church in regular preaching and bible studies.
Our partners in the Gospel Growth Fellowship were also actively offering conferences and the like for this task.
But there were also many opportunities in the Scriptures for challenging Christian thought and practice, so we started ‘Wait...What?’.
CERC Sundays were still growing and we rented No 32 for Sunday School, for the married apprentices, and for baptism. Now we didn’t have to squeeze into the kitchen to celebrate baptisms.
We knocked down the creche in the main hall to accommodate more growth.
We also managed to find new office space for the growing staff. The drama team also finally had a place to store costumes, and the video team a place to edit.
An explicitly Reformed church in the Klang Valley:
Nearly 10 years after we started, and nearly 500 years from the date Luther began the Protestant Reformation, we celebrated it with our partners at the Gospel Growth Fellowship.
In 2017, we got started for ministry in Chinese with Chinese SOCM.
We also made the decision to move all of CERC Sundays back to the Central location to accommodate the growth.
In addition, we managed to rent No 20, named ‘Anna House’ to accommodate the growing number of ladies doing ministry in both CMA and BMT.
At the end of 10 years:
We celebrate the ministry God has given us, to pursue the growth of faithful churches in the Klang Valley.
- 20 Growth Groups,
- 108 members,
- 122 candidates for membership,
- 3 in seminary,
- 10 having done CMA and
- 8 for BMT and
- 45 leaders in Word and Works ministries,
we look forward to another 10 years of being able to stand for the Gospel in Malaysia.
To a New Decade:
So far, 2019 has been a year for new things. We began new Growth Groups in Kepong and Puchong. A new Growth Group dedicated to Bahasa Melayu Ministry was initiated, preparing us for more evangelism opportunities.
We welcomed Daniel, a former apprentice who recently graduated from Trinity Theological College in Perth, Australia, back into our congregation, but this time, as a Pastor Trainee.
We now also occupy the ground floor of CERC Central, which has been renovated to house a bigger, better crèche for the increasing number of young families in our midst, improve our accessibility among the elderly, and of course, to accommodate continued growth.
We started our new decade of faithful ministry by breaching many new frontiers. We are committed to preach the truth about the world as revealed by God’s Gospel, and if you would be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ, we welcome you with open arms here at CERC. Although new persecution, challenges and adversities are inevitable, we hope that new allies will join our continued campaign to establish God’s kingdom in the Klang Valley and beyond. For the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.
12 Years of God’s Faithfulness:
We began the year with a brand new sermon series titled, “God’s Story”. Starting with Genesis to the rest of the Old Testament books, this series taught the Gospel and glory of God as revealed by the entire Bible through the lens of biblical theology.
After 4 years in seminary, Jerome returned to Malaysia with his family and took up office as CERC’s newest Pastor-in-Training.
L-R: Jerome, with his son Emmett and his wife Robyn
This was the year the COVID-19 pandemic raged across the globe. Lockdown was imposed for many months in Malaysia, and so we went online. It was a challenging and new experience for all of us. Nonetheless, we pushed forward with our Virtual Ministry to make sure God’s word was still being preached faithfully in the new normal.
Every Sunday, CERC streamed sermons (either live, or pre-recorded, depending on the applicable restrictions at the time) for both the morning and evening gatherings .
Pastor-in-Training Jerome records a sermon at home, assisted by his wife, Robyn
Behind the scenes of a sermon recording: the photo above shows Jerome using an iPhone 7, a clip-on mic, and a monitor for notes. Jerome’s wife is his entire recording team! The photo below is the final product before the recording is sent for video editing.
Sometime mid-year, the lockdown was briefly lifted for a few months. Adhering to the standard operating procedures, only a limited number was allowed to gather in our premises (the rest tuned in via our Virtual Sunday livestream). It was not quite the church we were used to, but we were nonetheless thankful to interact physically with each other again!
Elder Robin preaching at a semi-virtual Sunday gathering when lockdown SOPs were relaxed
Behind-the-scenes crew at work on a Sunday live streaming session
Around the same time, weddings were allowed. So we celebrated the wedding of two of our members, with the first ever virtual-physical wedding where some members attended the wedding physically together with the couple’s close family, and the rest of the church witnessed the ceremony via live streaming.
Centre: newly married couple Wong Munn Sing and Gan Xin Yi
On Thursdays and Saturdays, our 27 Growth Groups and Tertiary Growth Groups continued to meet online. As a silver-lining of the virtual meets, we were blessed to have overseas and out-of-state supporters and members join us for these online sessions.
USJ Growth Group meeting semi-virtually before lockdown was imposed again
Wangsa Maju Growth Group in a fully online meeting during the lockdown period
On the children’s ministry front, we launched Little People TV as an evangelistic channel for children, where kids can enjoy learning about God! Check out Little People TV on YouTube!
The church also put themselves in front of the camera to give people a sneak peek into their lives with the #CERCStaysAtHome series. This series was started to encourage fellow Christians to use their time at home wisely. The series includes a wide range of content, such as teaching kids about God, reading good theological books, listening to sermons, keeping fit and healthy for ministry, learning a new hobby, and even learning how to write sermons!
In season and out of season, faithful Word ministry has always been essential to the health of the church. Convicted of this, Winnie Lai, Christine Chong, and Cheah Wei Kin joined our Church Ministers’ Apprenticeship (CMA) programme in 2020, bringing the total count to seven apprentices at that time.
We also hired our first ever General Manager in 2020, with Penny Lai taking up this role to assist the Lead Elder in organising our church operations. Equipped with her past experience in CERC’s CMA programme, Penny was well-suited for this role.
Our Christmas celebration this year was unlike any previous year. The church gathered through online platforms to celebrate and remember the birth of our Lord and Saviour. Families tuned in on Christmas Eve for an exciting evening of carols, a skit, a puppet show, and a Christmas message from Vanessa Ong, our 4th-year Moore College seminarian.
Left: The team behind the cameras; right: Vanessa live-streaming from Sydney, Australia
Left: Emcee for the night, Pr. Jerome Leng with Mr Gator and Monkey the puppets; right: Emma Lee (Head of CERC's children's ministry) and David Kuok (2nd-year apprentice) performing song medleys live.
On Christmas morning, we were reminded of the hope and joy we have today because of Christ’s birth—this little baby in Bethlehem is the Light that has dawned upon all who dwell in darkness (Isa 9:2); He is also the Lord of heaven and earth; He is God Himself who had come to die for sinners like us, and is now exalted on high, worthy of all worship and honour.
Left: behind-the-scenes; right: Joel Lo (2nd year apprentice) preaching the Christmas sermon