In 1985 TMC Mentakab, being themselves a year old as a local church, reached out to Bentong, which then became their Outreach Point. After nine years of ministry, they recommended Bentong to become a Local Conference in 1994. Bentong became a Local Conference on 26 March 1995. In 1995 Pastor S. Jayabalan was appointed the first Pastor. The Full Membership was 51 with an average attendance of 45 for the Sunday morning service. There was a worship service at Lurah Bilut on Mondays at 7 pm. On Wednesdays there was fortnightly worship at 7.30 p.m. in Karak or Tuan Estate.
Church School in Bentong was after service on Sundays at 10 am. and at 7.30pm on Fridays in the Bentong Estate. The MYF met on Wednesdays at 7.30 p.m. and the church elders met at the same time as well. The MW met on Saturdays at 6.30 p.m. The Cell-Groups met in homes at 7.30 p.m. on Thursdays. Rev. Daniel Poobalarajah conducted a Two Day Leadership Seminar. Many preachers were invited to speak. A VBS was held for 80 children, of which 50 were Hindus. Each family in the church gave RM10 towards the work of Missions. On Thursdays 9.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m., the pastor was at the church for counselling. The parsonage rental was RM 270 per month. The place of worship, which was upstairs of a shop house, was given free for use. The average income of the church per month was RM1,800. The boom in industry, the numerous factories, the housing schemes, highway to K.L. have helped the town to have a facelift which was useful to the church for more people to come.
In 1996 the Full Membership was 57. The worship service which was held upstairs in a shop house was given without any payment for 3 years. They had to be relocated and so moved to an old unused bungalow in the Council of Education’s land, by the kindness of the Wesley Church. There was Fasting and Prayer on Fridays at 7.30 pm, Mondays in Lurah Bilut at 7 pm, Tuesdays in Taman Jaya, Wednesdays in Karak, Thursdays in Desa Damai and Saturdays at Taman Jaya Area Fellowship. The Church School in Bentong had 15 children and Bentong Estate, 17 children. MYF was on Sundays at 4 pm with 15 members. MW, with 16 members, met on Sundays at 4 pm. The church bought a piece of land for RM35, 000 and transferred it to the name of the Trustees on 20 June 1996. They took a loan of RM12, 279.35 with the AEC on interest. At this time key LCEC members moved to other towns for jobs.
From 1997 to 1999 Rev. N. Rajan was the Pastor. In 1997 the Full Membership was 63. The church gathered in an old wooden house in the Methodist Education Land on Sundays at 9 am. Bible Study was held on Thursdays. Outreach Points were active in Karak, Bilut and Ladang Bentong. The Church School had 15 children and 3 teachers. They planned to build the Prayer Tower and double- storey church cum parsonage when RM112,000 was deposited with the Trustees to sign the Agreement. In 1998 the Full Membership was 70. Outreach ministries were conducted regularly at Bilut, Bunos Jaya, Bentong Estate and Budu Estate.
The new building was near completion. Majilis Daerah wanted to bring down the Prayer Tower. The architect informed that they were willing to give RM10,000 as compensation. In 1999 the Full Membership was 73
In 2000 Rev. Peter Devadason was the Pastor. Pastor Pathmanathan served from January to May 2000 and he resigned. Mr John Simson, a ministerial student, was posted to do his practical work from June to December 2000. Service was conducted in Bilut at 7:30 p.m. The Full Membership was 75. Evangelistic Meetings were held in Karak, Bukit Dinding, Camp Sul and Batu Lapan. The church lacked musical instruments. They rented out the upstairs of the shop house for RM 500.
From 2001 to 2004 Rev. D.B. Laurence was the Pastor. In 2001 the Full Membership was 74. The Church building was redone to comply with the plans. The church applied for Certificate of Fitness. The building was to be used as a parsonage. The Van was repaired and maintained. Their request to use the Chinese Methodist Church premises was denied. All programmes were well attended except for the Bible Study. The church needed an OHP and keyboard and they were donated by well-wishers. In 2002 the Full Membership was 93. The church bought a second hand drum set. In 2003 the Full Membership was 110. The church purchased an amplifier set / drum set / bibles etc. Their building was put up for sale with the aim to sell the property at market price and buy a double storey shop house (Board on Property Report). In 2004 the Full Membership was 118. Conflicts in the leadership affected the church growth and resulted in a drop in their finances.
A Note on Kuala Krai Mission/Outreach
In 2004 the Mission Outreach at Kuala Krai with Rev. Yesudason the worker, was brought under the Tamil Methodist Church Bentong. On 11 April 2004, there was a Combined Easter Celebration with the Presbyterian Church. The guest speaker was Rev. D.B. Laurence, the District Superintendent and Pastor of TMC Bentong. About 70 Christian and non-believers both Chinese and Indians attended. In 2005 Rev. M.G. Thana Raj was the Pastor-in-charge with Rev. Yesudason as the Approved Supply Pastor. The Full Membership was 110. The old parsonage was put up for sale for a price of RM250,000. From 2006 to 2013, the Pastor in charge was Rev. S. Mark Subramanyam. Rev. R. Yesudason was stationed in Kuala Krai. In 2006 the Full Membership was 107. The church was slowly recovering from the split that took place the previous year. Leaders and members were still struggling with the issue of regular tithing. Rev. Yesudason chose to go independent and leave the Tamil Annual Conference in December 2006.
In 2007 the Full Membership was 99. Outreach: They had 6 families attending the Sunday worship service regularly and moved out from their place of worship in a member’s house to the CMC building. The MYAF was reorganised on 14 July and met once a month. They set up a library for the members.
There was a great improvement in tithing. In 2008 the Full Membership was 101. Help was given to a poor family to settle their electricity bills and help shift their household things to the church building in Sg. Marong. The Sungai Marong church building was rented out for RM200. The efforts to sell the property faced real obstacles. In 2007, only 12 members were tithing regularly. But till June 2008, 24 members were tithing regularly. They settled all outstanding debts of RM6,000. Prayer brought some breakthroughs in the Sunday Worship service and finances.
In 2009 the Full Membership was 102. Area fellowships were held in 5 different places on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. They used Rev. C. Jayaraj’s materials. In 2010 the Full Membership was 107. The church moved to a new building and it was fully furnished. An application to renew the leasehold land was submitted to the Bentong land office. In 2011 the Full Membership was 108. Rev. S. Mark Subramanyam who was also the pastor of TMC Mentakab came once a month to preach, serve Holy Communion and conduct the LCEC meeting. The church launched a new Building Project. They decided to purchase the present church building for RM530,000. The two percent earnest deposit of RM10,600 was made on 7 July 2011 to the vendor. The balance 8% of RM42,400 was to be paid once the Sale and Purchase agreement was signed.
The church raised RM70,000. By the grace of God, they sold the Sg. Marong church parsonage at RM200,000 to lawyer Mrs. Tin Chin Lee. The church applied for a loan from Bentong Maybank under the names of 6 individuals. The loan was approved. The church raised funds by selling the Golden Text Calendar at RM5 per copy.
In 2012 the Full Membership was 107. Fasting and Prayer and extended time of prayer were held every 4th Friday from 7:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. In one of the Friday prayer meetings, the whole church was called to repent and reconcile with one another and the members did likewise. The church was thankful to the Conference for approving and advancing a sum of RM200,000 in order to settle the balance payment to the vendor for the purchase of the Double Storey Shop Office in Bentong. The church has refunded the advanced amount of RM200,000 to the Conference. The church was also grateful to the Conference for the grant of RM 50,000.
In 2013 the Full Membership was 113. Migrant ministry was started mainly among the Nepalese at Benus. Ministry at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Karak was held every Friday from 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm. Three inmates attended the Bible study regularly. Bro G. Victor Jesudass helped in this ministry. Students Christian Prayer Fellowship met for prayer, singing and devotion on Fridays from 7.20 – 7.40 am at Sekolah Menengah Khai Mun, Bentong. 25 students attended regularly. There was no organised MYAF and many from this age group were in the LCEC.
They led in the Sunday worship, fasting and prayer meetings and cell groups. Seven of them preached and were used in the cell groups and worship service. The MSF was newly formed on 25 August 2013 and functioned well. The church purchased a 2 storey building for RM 530,000 under the names of 3 individuals from the church. The property was charged to Maybank. (Board on Property Report)
From 2014 onwards, Rev. Ezekiel Raj was the Pastor-in-charge. In 2014, the Full Membership was 115. Ministries were started in Karak and Telemong. The ground floor was renovated for RM 60,000. It helped the older members to attend service without climbing the stairs. Pastor’s Office and Prayer Rooms were also available. The church thanked the Conference for the grant of RM 5,000. There was still the concern for relationships to be healed. On a positive note, members who kept away have returned and this has helped to build the finances. The pastor did well to build and bring healing. The church completed its renovation and had the Dedication on 7 September 2014. The cost of renovation was RM 80,000
In 2015 the Full Membership increased to 153. The church was also growing financially. Many who returned have been supportive of the church. The building was renovated and Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai gave RM30,000 towards this. The pastor helped the congregation to look beyond their petty issues to greater things. In 2016 the Full Membership was 157. Weekly outreach ministries were conducted in Lurah Bilut, Karak, Telemong and Manjis. There was a need for a full time worker to look after Karak and Manjung, Lurah Bilut and Telemong ministries. In 2017 the Full Membership was 160. They had four coordinators helping the outreach ministries. In 2018 the Full Membership was 169. The church flooring and interior parts were renovated.
In 2019 Rev. Ezekiel Raj is the Pastor of TMC Bentong for the sixth year. The Lay Leader is Mr. Victor and the pastor Rev. Ezekiel Raj, is the LCEC Chairperson. The Full Membership of the church is 169. They have 8 Cell Groups : (a) Lurah Bilut (Mr. Soloman & Mrs. Mary Nalini), (b) Desa Damai (Mr. Peter James & Mr. Raja), (c) Bentong 1 (Mr. Daniel Thanaraj & Mr. Kesavan), (d) Bentong 2 (Mr. Victor & Mrs. Shanthi Dass), (e) Bentong 3 (Mr. Appu & Mr. Devadass), (f) Karak ( Mr. Joel Rajoo & Mr. Raja), (g) Telemong (Mr. Yesudasan & Mrs. Shanthi), (h) Manchis (Mr. Devadass & Mr. Daniel Thanaraj). They have four Outreaches: (a) Lurah Bilut (Mr. Soloman), (b) Karak (Mr. Joel Rajoo), (c) Telemong (Mr. Yesudasan) and (d) Manchis (Mr. Devadass). The membership of the Agencies are as follows: MYF (26), MYAF (30), MSF (28) and MW (22).
Conclusion: TMC Bentong is 24 years old. They are a well-organized church with 8 Cell Groups and 4 Outreaches. They have their own building for worship. Their Full Membership has grown from 51 to 169. Their ministry is both in the Bentong Township as well as the surrounding Estates. Their steady growth in membership shows the effectiveness of the evangelism strategy, which the pastor attributes to the team work in the ministry. With God’s grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt that TMC Bentong will rise to even greater heights for the people to be blessed and the Lord’s Name to be honoured and glorified.
Sources: TAC Journals