During an Oct 17-19 stay-in retreat in Plentong, Johor, Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCCs) from Blessed Sacrament Church learned the importance of forgiveness and ways for them to move towards mission work.
Upon arrival by coach, retreat master and guardian of St Pio’s Friary and spirituality centre in Ulu Tiram, Johor, Fr Valentine Gompok, greeted the retreatants and their spiritual director, Fr Thomas Sukotriraharjo.
As part of the Building an Evangelical and Missionary Neighbourhood Christian Community retreat at Majodi Centre, the 73 participants attended three sessions by Fr Valentine.
The first was about the importance of forgiveness as a foundation to build relationships in communities. Fr Valentine said that people are “hard-wired” to retaliate when they have been hurt by others as their pride and self-esteem have been injured.
But it is through forgiveness that enables one to let go of anger, selfishness, hatred, resentment and revenge against one’s offenders and maintain a vibrant and intimate relationship with God, he said.
The second and third sessions were on evangelisation and missionary work. Fr Valentine gave pointers on how NCCs can progress from evangelising in neighbourhoods to doing missionary work.
Fr Valentine said that there were four orders from Jesus:
- Go home to your friends and tell them what great things God has done (Mk 5:19);
- Go into the streets, highways and byways and bring them in (Mt 22:9);
- Go into the village opposite to you (Lk 19:30);
- Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mk 16:15).
Out of the four, the priest said that three referred to neighbourhood evangelism – home, streets and villages.
Fr Valentine said that any Christian can be involved in neighbourhood evangelism.
To bring the Gospel to one’s communities, Fr Valentine said, it is important to know the neighbourhoods, its people, their cultures, stories, values and worldviews.
After each session, participants had small group discussions. Participant Julie Straaten, a first-timer at the retreat said, “I learnt how to apply the knowledge and evangelisation tools in my community, seeing Christ in every face I meet and sharing His love, joy and hope with the less fortunate among us.”
At a Mass celebrated by Fr Thomas and Fr Valentine on Oct 19, during his homily, Fr Valentine quoted Mother Teresa’s message as an inspiration for them: “We are called to be faithful not successful. Success is God’s responsibility.”
By Stella Lee
About Blessed Sacrament’s NCCs
There are ten NCCs in Blessed Sacrament Church. Each group comprises between eight and 12 members who come together as a social network of faith.
They meet monthly and engage in Gospel sharing, personal reflections and reporting of tasks.
Alongside meetings, their ongoing activities include home and hospital visits, prayers and wake support for bereaved families, house Masses, operating the church canteen, social functions and retreats.