Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ode To The Blackest Black Preacher Ever

Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith didn't win you acclaim on the blogosphere where you make a public show of your talents by regurgitating the efforts of better men and vomiting the half-digested crap all over comments boxes.
Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith killed you.

The Ko-Dee was the blackest of the black preachers.
On a good day, he looked like the love-child of Deepak Chopra and Kavita Kapoor.
On a bad day, he looked like Father Abraham on steroids.
[I was there by his death bed in Assunta Hospital and believe me, he really did look like Father Abraham on steroids!]

The Ko-Dee played billiards with the best and won.
The Ko-Dee played crickets like an Englishman with the best of his generation.
The Ko-Dee drove around in fancy cars and chased after fancy girls.
Then he had his Damascus Road experience and turned his back on his past.
He became a preacher.
He studied and worked, studied and worked.
His wife and daughters supported him, wept with him and prayed for him.
Some Koreans showed kindness and gave him a study-loan to buy books.
Time was, books didn't come easy so each of them were cherished.
Even so, the Ko-Dee was never a miser or treated his books like trophies to be displayed on an online "Library Thing" to be admired.
Truth is, the Ko-Dee never even bothered to wrap up his books or to set up bookshelves.
He read the books and then handed them out (to young punks like yours truly - poor college kid with too much hot air and too short an attention-span!)

The Ko-Dee took me around on his van for visitations.
During the long van-rides, he taught me Hebrew and Greek.
Handed me his volume of the Septuagint and explained to me the Mishnah and the Talmud.
At other times, we talked about the attraction of older women and shared our admiration for Samuel Johnson and D.H. Lawrence (kindred spirits who loved older women).
The Ko-Dee told me that he loved the church like he loved his wife.
He was to pay with his life for that same love.

Pltypus met the Ko-Dee during his misspent youth.
The Ko-Dee took his posse from Koo-Lai to the youth-fellowship meeting in Bee-Pee.
The Ko-Dee took his gigantic Hexapla Bible from Koo-Lai to the youth-fellowship meeting in Bee-Pee.
Pltypus sat through the Ko-Dee's sermon that fateful evening.
Didn't understand a word.
But one word stayed with him.
From Psalm 23.
The Ko-Dee breathed sulphur and spoke fire.
The Ko-Dee thundered from the pulpit and the youths trembled.
One word sermon.
From Psalm 23.
One word was all he needed.
One word was all anyone needed.

Years later, La Tey and a piano-player who was rejected by the Rapture Call joined me in KUL.
The piano-player was my room-mate. We were going to college.
We ended up listening to the Ko-Dee screaming like a deranged negro-field preacher about Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.
It was a different time.
It was a different crowd.
La Tey and I cheered him on.
The piano-player was still wondering about why he was rejected by the Rapture Call (was it his IQ? did he need another shot at the Psychosometric Test in Universiti Malaya?)
The crowd looked bored.
Later complained that the Ko-Dee's sermons were not "edifying", only full of "exhortations"!
Actually, none of them understood those words - "edification" or "exhortation".
What they meant was that they were dense and wanted religious entertainment and jokes.
The Ko-Dee joked like a demon-biker.
The Ko-Dee joked like the drunken poker-player trying to con the Devil.
The Ko-Dee joked like the Westminster Divines who were deranged enough to frame something so monumental as a "Confession of Faith".

In his quiter moments, the Ko-Dee was a restorer who worked with his hands.
His was obsessive about his hobbies and chief among those was the art of reviving dead cars.
The Ko-Dee should have been an engineer or a technician.
But he was content to be a preacher,
Who spent his free-time reviving dead cars.
Time was, we had no use for a B.Sc.(Hons).
Time was, all that was required was passion and we could work wonders with our hands.
Even bringing life to dead cars and speaking words of life to dead congregations.

I was privileged to be a part of this work with dead cars.
It was a rainy night.
The Ko-Dee brought his van to my student house.
There was a flat tire.
Stray dogs were copulating in the rain.
The Ko-Dee called out to me with a voice that could awaken the dead.
I ran downstairs.
The piano-player joined me with a puzzled look - still trying to figure out why he was not in the Rapture Call (was it the 53rd question in the Psychosometric Test?)
We worked in the rain.
With jacks, screws and bolts.
Even the dogs stopped their copulation and turned to stare at the three dummies changing tires in the rain.
The van was fixed and we went off to Brickfields to pick up some blind folks for Bible Study.
No one from church came for Bible Study so we listened to the Lord and went into the streets taking whoever we could find.
No one came to the Banquet but the blind, the lame and the disenfranchised.
Two weeks later, I was given an opportunity to preach during the Bible Study.
The blind and the lame sat in and listened.
They had little to give but I preached on being "totally sold-out to Christ".
I preached on total commitment and a life of sacrificial giving.
Time was, young people were taught to breath fire rather give lectures on "Creationism Vs. Evolutionism" or other crap that you can get from handbooks.

On some quiet nights, I stayed back late in the Ko-Dee's office.
Sometimes I helped with sermon notes and slides.
Other times I just sat there listening to him talking about the past.
How his ordination was delayed because of a miserly church (full-time unordained preachers were paid less).
The Ko-Dee's ordination was delayed for twelve years and his wife and kids lived in poverty.
He was ordained together with this handbook-quoting young prick who became the pastor of the church in Bee-Pee.
That handbook-quoting young prick only served as a full-time worker for 1-2 years and was ordained.
The Ko-Dee waited twelve years.
That young prick spoke during the Ko-Dee's funeral.
I spoke after that and thrashed the young prick upside down.
That young prick made a show of his Koine Greek and quoted from his handbooks.
That young prick washed his hands off all involvement in causing the death of the good man.
My wife spoke after that and pointed out the hypocrisies of that handbook-quoting prick along with his cohorts who were hiding at the back of the congregation during the funeral service.
That young prick is leading a discipleship center today and business is good.
I ran into him just the other day in a bookshop.
We greeted each other cordially but his "ang-moh" speaking son who goes to a high-class private school kept bugging him about buying the latest collector's edition sci-fi series.

The Ko-Dee was driven from the two churches he founded in KUL and Koo-Lai.
He was left to rot back in Koo-Lai with 3 other new Christians.
The Ko-Dee continued driving around with the invitation to the Banquet.
He called out to the blind, the lame, the rejects, the pariahs.
He continued reviving dead cars and speaking words of life to dead souls.
The Ko-Dee worked a little too hard and snapped.
I was with him in the hospital.
Stayed with him throughout the night.
He looked like Father Abraham on steroids.
Bloodshot eyes and long, grey beard.
The old fire was still there but buried under a face that had seen too many winters.
He spoke two full sentences to me that night.
"Do you still have my copy of the Septuagint?"
"Continue the good work - the harvest is plentiful but real workers are so very few!"

In the morning, I took a long bus ride all the way down south to visit someone in a hospital.
A girl dying from leukemia.
A girl that I've never even met.
My wife held the girl and we prayed together.

The Ko-Dee died shortly after.
So did the leukemia girl.
I'm still here.
Here is good.

Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith didn't win you acclaim on the blogosphere where you make a public show of your talents by regurgitating the efforts of better men and vomiting the half-digested crap all over comments boxes.
Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith killed you.
Time was, men gave their everything for their beliefs.
Time now, we can still choose to be so.


Anonymous said...

Your article left me in tears. One for Kody.


Jenson said...

Time was, believing in the Westminster Confession of Faith killed you.

Hi Edmund,

Time was, being baptised in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost killed you.

Enough said...


ACE68 said...

I rode in one of Kodee's revived car in 1989 after showing the Jesus Film with some singapore christians in Kulai. The singaporeans wanted to get in touch with the situation of village evangelism first-hand. Time was, singapore christians actually dared to dirty their hands and engage in first-hand encounter with 'ministry' by taking those coastal buses (without seats!) to Kulai. All they had was a their bare hands and some Jesus Film tracts. With these they covered the whole of Kulai under the hot sun.

We packed the field behind Kulai Presby that night. Everyone was there. Kodee got every youth in Kulai to attend. He even found time to fix a another car in between! The singaporeans fed the mosquitoes but never comlaint, they sat with the youths in the open field. Time was, singaporeans were just lke you and me.

Kodee sent me home after all was done. He spoke church history and got entangled in the years and dates. He wasn't always accurate! He spoke the Westminster Confession and the evangelistic thrust of Presbyterian churches. He spoke of the glorious youths who will lead the church one day like the westminster divines of history. The burning bush in my heart was aflamed and I have forever studied church history since. His car took me all the way back home, and with a gleaming smile, he reversed and drove back to Kulai. Kodee. That Kodee. Always remembered.

Anonymous said...

Kodee was killed by HATE.
Kodee was killed by STUPIDITY.
Kodee was killed by FALSEHOOD.
Kodee was none of these.
Kodee lived the TRUTH.
Kodee lived in HOPE.
Kodee lived the LIFE.
Kodee live no more but he live still, in the eternal grace of Jesus Christ.

Remembered by:

*Note to all others who are commenting, this is a memorial to one who has gone ahead. To one who deserved better. To one who had faught the good fight and PRREACHED the TRUTH.

If you read but remain ignorant, I suggest you better shut up.

This is for Kodee.

Cikgu Screwtape said...

Hi Jenson,

Time was, being baptised in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost killed you.

It's one thing when Christians killed in persecution and fed to the lions because of believing in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

It's another thing when someone like Kodee is forced to the grave by *professing Christians in church* for his faithfulness to the Westminster Confession of Faith.

There is a difference and that difference between the two is what brings a tear to the eyes of God.

~ Edmund

Cikgu Screwtape said...

I wrote the piece on Kodee during my lunch break yesterday. Terribly busy day. I could hardly breathe after entertaining so many enquiries from parents/customers. Suffering from back-ache now.

I was sitting in Pondok Satay for dinner. Just read the comments from HockSoon and the out of context one from Jenson. The latter left me cold because it was conceptual. The former made me cry because he was talking about a real person that we knew and loved long, long ago.

With the meal before me, I observed a moment of silence and prayed for Kodee. I wept.

Time was, people mattered. Not concepts (however lofty they may be).

Time now, I'm not even someone who subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith. But I'll respect and remember the man who did his best to uphold those beliefs... even at the cost of his life.

~ Edmund

Jenson said...

Hi Edmund,

I'm sorry if I wrote my comment out of context. I do mean well. My own father-in-law was forced out of his denomination and lost his house, and salary. Thankfully, he wasn't forced into the grave.

But I always believe, as I assume you do, that the believer will be with the Lord which is far better, though his/her body is in the grave...


Cikgu Screwtape said...

Hi Jenson,

No harm done. I'm sorry to hear about your father-in-law's plight. The more reason to avoid denominationalism/labels, right?

It's one thing to say that to be with the Lord is far better. It's another thing to have to look into the faces of his widowed wife and two daughters. I'm sure you understand...

~ Edmund

Anonymous said...

Hey amigos,
Time to move on. Leave the labels to the juvie. They can play-faith for all they want while the rest of the world goes down in flames. Its the encounter with Jesus Christ that matters. Same with Kodee, same with Ace-boy and his Manila stories, same with you Mundo, same all over here in Bolivia. You said it right by Tozer, its about men who met God. same then, same now.


elvin said...

An Ode to Ko-dee
A short man with a tall faith
A beacon in Seapark that I knew briefly, who opened his church for a couple of reckless believers believing in late night communion among brethen & prayers untold..