The Early Years
Cheroh and Raub were one Circuit until Cheroh became a separate Local Conference on 17 January 1990. Rev. Daniel Poopalarajah was the first pastor and he served from 1990 to November 1992. The Full Membership at the time of formation was 52. Two members were transferred out and the Full Membership was 50. Sunday Worship services were held at 6.30 p.m and about 40 attended. The church met in a rented building. The MW had 16 members and met twice a month in the church and twice in the homes. MYF had 14 members and they met on Sundays at 5p.m. Church School met on Sundays at 5:30 p.m. with 15 children and 2 teachers. Social Concerns helped two families with provisions and found employment for one family member. A new organ was bought for RM650. The Evangelism and Membership Committee worked hard to bring back the inactive members. The church decided to support mission organisations with 5% of their total tithes.
The Cheroh Chapel
The church renovated the Cheroh Chapel on the Estate land. The management laid down certain conditions for the church to use this building and wanted the church to enter into an agreement. The Trustees helped study the conditions with legal help before signing it. In 1991, the Full Membership was 48. They needed a fulltime worker.
Need for a Church Building
From December 1992 to 1994, Rev. C. Paul was the pastor. The Full Membership was 36, 31 and 35 in 1992, 1993 and 1994 respectively. The church faced draining of resources by a great exodus of people to Bentong and Kuala Lumpur for work opportunities. In spite of this, the church’s giving grew. In 1993, the church was affected when about 20 members left elsewhere for jobs. They needed a church building. In 1994, the Conference gave a grant of RM5,000 for furnishing and rentals. The Kuantan church gave RM200 monthly. In eager anticipation of growth, the LCEC brought a recommendation to purchase the building. If they had waited another year the price would have gone up even higher. The Local Conference supported this proposal. It would cost RM81,000 if they had bought it then. They were confident of raising RM21,000. The whole church was happy with the building and the idea. The pastor found it difficult to manage two churches and requested the Conference to give him at least an STM student.
In 1995 and 1996, Pastor Barnabas Baskaran was the pastor. The Full Membership was 47 from Cheroh and 44 members were from Kuala Lipis Outreach. Sunday Worship Services were held at 6 p.m. The church rented a shop house for RM270 and the pastor’s house rent was RM100. The people gave, now that they had a fulltime pastor of their own. A new identity emerged, being independent of TMC Raub. They now needed to fend for themselves.
A freehold vacant ¼ acre land was available at RM40,000. Upon signing the agreement, the 1/10 deposit of RM4,000 was paid. The vendor’s lawyer requested the balance of RM36, 000 to be settled before 24 January 1996 for the title to be changed to the Trustee’s name. A two-storey building with the parsonage, church and hall on the 1st floor and a number of shop houses for rental on the ground floor was designed. The Conference adopted TMC Cheroh’s building project for the Dedication Sunday Offering and also the 2nd Collection towards the Development Fund. The church requested that the giving of TAC Development Fund be extended till the project was realised. The following supported: TMC Seremban gave RM3,000, Dato’ Dr. and Mrs. P.C. Vanniasingham RM10,000 (towards sanctuary), Mr. E.V. Nesaratnam gave RM1,000. Upon purchase of the land, they still needed RM100,000 to construct the building. In 1996, the Full Membership was 40 in Cheroh and 44 in Kuala Lipis. Pastor Barnabas was relieved from the extensive outreach work in Kuala Lipis to concentrate on Cheroh, while on his weekend from his study at STM. The 9 a.m. worship in Kuala Lipis took place at the old Wesley church building. Kuala Lipis had RM12,000 in its van fund; RM2,000 as church General Fund and RM20, 000 with AEC as Mr. E.V. Nesaratnam’s contribution to purchase land. There were two Area Fellowships. The Plan was to construct a double storey building with a mini-market on the ground floor (to train Tamil Christians in business),hall, rooms, parsonage and the church on the upstairs.
In 1997, the Full Membership was 36. Meetings were held in Mr. D. Joseph’s house as the RM120,000 double storey building was being constructed in the ½ acre RM40,000 land. Without a pastor of their own, the church managed with the services of Rev. Jayabal David.
In 1998, Rev. T.D. Peter was the pastor. The Full Membership was 30. The building was near completion and the full payment was made. To complete, the church would need extra money. Many of the people had left Cheroh. Unless the pastor had an evangelistic calling to bring new souls into the Kingdom of God, he would not find much work to do in this very small church. He may even be depressed for the congregation was below the poverty line and often they struggled to tithe consistently. The new building would provide the needed premises and revenue.
In 1999 and 2000, Rev. Elanko Kannan was the pastor with Pastor Reuben Kanagalingam. The Full Membership was 34. The dedication of their new double storey building by Bishop Peter Chio Sing Ching was on 25 October 1999. Outreach ministry was held in Budu Estate on Fridays. The pastor stayed 3 days in Cheroh and 3 days in Kuala Lipis. In 2000, Rev. Elanko Kannan was pastor with Ministerial Student Mr. Ruben Rajandurai. In Kuala Lipis, the Sunday Services were held at 10:30 a.m. in a member’s house in Sellborne Estate, which was 20km away. The church van was used to ferry members to and fro.
Church School was held on Sundays at 5 15 p.m. and there was only one class with one teacher. There were 8 students and there was a need for van transport. There were 4 MYF members who met on Sundays at 4.15 p.m. On Fridays at 5.30 p.m, 8 women met for MW fellowship. Three members met regularly for MYAF on Sundays at 4.15 p.m. Kuala Lipis had a van of its own and a vacant piece of land.
Challenge to be a Cross- Cultural Church
From 2001 to 2003, Rev. Moses Jayaseelan was the pastor. In 2001, the Full Membership was 26. The Certificate of Fitness was received. The church land and building had been fenced up for RM4,000. Funds were raised through personal friends and members to put this up. A Family Enrichment Seminar by Rev. P. Tevaraji was conducted and TMC Raub joined the programme. Cheroh was a small and struggling church. Nearly all the youngsters were away. People were moving to the towns all the time. The DS observed that the church may have to become cross-cultural and reach out to the various communities instead of depending on the Tamils.
In 2002, the Full Membership was 29. The MYF was not functioning; there were only two youths. Only the Church Extension and Development Fund loan of RM20,000 remained. The ground floor was to be used as a kindergarten the following year. Growth in Cheroh was expected to be very slow as people left for better prospects. Opposition from non-Christians made the situation even more difficult for evangelism. The church thanked God for the 3 families He gave them and the church is still communicating with them. Some leaders pledged to increase their tithes while others had not begun to give. Building (Mini Market) not used / no form of income / Kindergarten (feasibility) – (Board on Property pg. 201)
In 2003, the Full Membership of 22 remained till 2006. The ground floor was rented out for the Kindergarten for RM200 per month. They had begun repaying the Church Extension and Development Fund Loan. Membership continued to decline and efforts to evangelize had not been successful. The Indian population in Cheroh continued to decline but local leadership strongly felt they should continue as a Local Conference. The finance grew. The Local Conference resolved that they continue as a local church and requested that a worker be placed in Cheroh.
Difficult With or Without a Pastor
In 2004, Rev. D. B. Laurence was the pastor-in-charge and was assisted by Pastor Pattiyan. The pulpit area was redesigned and carpeted. On 8 June 2004, Pastor Pattiyan had a stroke and was unable to continue on medical grounds. Finance was going down. Cheroh was not able to finance a worker on its own and was also not able to grow if there was no worker assigned.
From 2005 to 2008, Rev. Samuel Periathamby was the pastor. Sunday worship services in Cheroh were held at 10.30 am. There was no MSF and MYAF. The MYF had Bible Study and fellowship at Jerantut (District Programme). The drainage of the church was repaired. In 2006, the MYF had a membership of 16 and an average of 7 – 8 attended every Sunday from 12.30 – 1.30 p.m. Nine youths attended the Youth Convention. Twenty-five children attended the VBS in June organised by TMC Raub. 23 people were baptised on 11 April 2006.
In 2007, Full Membership was updated to 35. The MYF had 8 members. Ministry among the Orang Asli was carried out. In 2008, Mr. Samuel Manogran helped for two months (February and March) as a Pre-Ministerial Student. The Full Membership rose from 22 to 37. Cell Group ministry was started in 3 areas from the month of August. The purpose of the Cell Group ministry was to reach out to the neighbourhood and the surrounding areas. Fasting and Prayer was held every Tuesday at 7.30 p.m in the church and 5 to 7 members fasted and came to pray faithfully. The church conducted Bible Quiz twice and the whole church participated. The church ground floor was rented out since August for RM200. Financially, the church showed some improvement with a surplus of RM3,237.19. The LCEC members took the church ministry seriously and were responsible to their entrusted ministries.
Financial Help from TMC PJ
In 2009 and 2010, Rev. Timothy Krishnan was the pastor. The Full Membership in 2009 and 2010 was 34. Tamil and Malay bibles were purchased for members and new believers. The church bought a new grass cutting machine for RM830. They were grateful to TMC PJ for their financial help. With their help they were able to meet their financial expenses and had a surplus of RM2,753.82. The church moved from the 1st floor to the ground floor for worship from April 2010. They had 6 children with 1 teacher in the Church School. There was only 1 class and it was conducted in Tamil. They planned to combine with the TMC Raub’s Church School. The new place of worship was dedicated by the TAC President Rev. Vincent C. Jayaraj on 11 April 2010. The guest of honour was Rev. Dr. Peter Devadason the former Eastern DS who had diligently toiled in order to obtain a place of worship for the members in Cheroh. The church was grateful to the Conference for giving them a grant of RM10,000 for the renovation.
In 2011, Rev. Jonathan Jesudas was the pastor and he was assisted by Ministerial Candidate Mr. Joseph Ambrose. The Full Membership in 2011 and 2012 was 34. The church took the responsibility in helping nine ‘Orang Asal’ families with groceries in Batu Sembeling. Along with finance, the church also faced a leadership crisis. Evangelism work was lacking. The church needed reconciliation for unity. In 2012, Rev. Joy Pandian was the pastor. The church lacked spiritual leadership and thus was unable to consolidate the relationships and the ministry of the church. A Leadership Training programme was conducted by Rev. Victor Vethamani.
From 2013 to 2018, Rev. Doraiseelan John was the pastor. During this period, the Full Membership fluctuated from 31 in 2013 to 36 in 2018. In 2013, although the members stayed nearby the church, many did not participate. Their excuses were concerning their work and tuition. Leaders did not participate regularly in church activities. They lacked self-motivation to come, learn and cooperate to work together. For a small church of only 31 members their problems were too many.
Health Clinic for all
In 2014, Mr. Alex, a Myanmarese, was given baptism. A few contacts were taken to a banquet organised by FGBMF in which they heard the good news. The Mr. Sitharaman helped to arrange transport for the people and Mr. Jesudas also helped. The Missions Committee conducted prayers in a Myanmarese house located at the 12th mile. A health clinic was organised for women with many non- believers benefitting from the free Pap smear tests. The youths showed some changes after a long break. The parents played a vital role in encouraging them. Some members could not be active in church because they were working in Singapore. The change of worship time from 10.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. was well accepted by the congregation. Lyrics and revival songs from Yezhuputal Geethangal were taught.
In 2015, the church continued to struggle with finance. The internal squabbles affected their finances. They were supported by TMC Raub with a monthly contribution of RM500 from July 2015. The youths met at 9 p.m. as they were only available at that time. In 2016, they managed to repair the roof damaged by strong wind. In 2017, the church attended the combined health and crime in the Indian community programmes at TMC Raub. The Church School had 7 children with 2 teachers. The MYF had 7 members and they had monthly programmes. They built a fellowship porch at the side of the church and the members contributed towards the expenses. In 2018, the Full Membership was 36.
In 2019, Rev. V. Vijaiadas is the pastor. The Full Membership is 28. The drop in membership is due to transfer of members from Cheroh to Raub in December 2018. There are 3 members in the MYF and 8 in the MW. There is no MYAF or MSF. There are 7 children and 2 teachers in the Church School. There are no Outreaches or Cell Group ministries. The church has stopped receiving the monthly subsidy of RM 500 from TMC Raub since the end of 2018. The pastor reported that though the church is small in membership, they have participated in all the District and Conference programmes.
Conclusion: TMC Cheroh is at the threshold of turning 30 years old. The constant draw of her members to bigger cities for jobs and education has caused a decline in membership, decrease in finance and a lack of leadership. But the faithful few have pressed on to build from their very limited resources. They are blessed to have the Conference Chairman of the Board on Evangelism as their pastor. With his guidance and the help of the Holy Spirit, TMC Cheroh can hope for greater times ahead.
Sources: TAC Journals