Prior to 1964, Cha’ah and Kluang were under one Circuit (Kluang – Cha’ah). But in 1964, they were divided into two Circuits: (Cha’ah – Johor Labis) and (Kluang – Ayer Itam – Rengam). From 1964 –1966 Rev. S. Sundararaj was the Pastor of Cha’ah – Johor Labis Circuit. The Full Membership was 89. There were 60 children in the Church School and 35 members in the WSCS. A piece of land (2 ½ acres) was purchased for $ 4,200. The Trustees advanced this amount. This land was ideally situated between Cha’ah Town and the Johor- Labis Estate. In 1965 and 1966, Mr. K. Isaac served as the Church Worker. In 1965, the Full Membership was 118. There was a special Evangelistic Meeting for 2 days with Rev. Sam Kamalesan as the Speaker. About 150 people including Hindus attended. Another Special Evangelistic Meeting for a week was held with Rev. Waldo Reinoehl with Mr.and Mrs. Joseph Devasahayam. In 1966 The Full Membership was 105. About 120 people worshipped in an Estate Tamil School. The service was in the morning but changed to 6pm as schools in Johor were opened on Sundays. On the church land (2 ½ acres) there was a little house where the pastor stayed.
Cha’ah Grows in Number and Plans for Own Building for Worship
In 1967 Pastor Joseph Devasagayam was in charge. He was stationed at Kluang and covered Kluang and Mersing Circuit. From 1968 to 1973 Rev. John Abraham was the Pastor. In 1969, The Full Membership was 133. A successful Evangelistic Meeting was held in April with Rev. Reinoehl, Rev. Prabhu Das and Pastor John Massillamony. The Management of the Johor Labis Estate gave $ 2,000 towards the Building Fund. The church had a Goat Farm with a total of ten goats. In 1970 the Full Membership was 135. There was an Evangelistic Meeting in April. The Speakers were Rev. W. S. Reinoehl and Rev. Prabhu Das. The MYF was organized for the first time in April. With the financial help of Rev.Reinoehl and by the efforts of the church members, a worship centre was put up on the Church land. Worship services were held in this place from April.
Coconut Trees and Goats for added Income
A Farm Committee was organized to plant Coconut trees in the 2 ½ acres land. The church received a donation of $ 180 from Rev.John Kovilpillai and they collected $ 120 from the church members. With this money they ploughed and levelled the land and planned to have a work camp to plant coconut trees. The Building Fund stood at $ 10,251.25, this included the donation of $ 2,500 from the TPAC. The Board of Trustees applied to the Segamat Collector of Land Revenue to change the status of the land title from agriculture to housing, to enable the church to build a Church and parsonage on the land. In 1971 the Full Membership was 127. They had $ 11,711.43 in the Building Fund. Singapore and Sentul WSCS and Dr. Paramjothy sent in donations to the Building Fund. Singapore WSCS gave $ 510 and Dr. Paramjothy gave $ 50 out of the $ 630 received this year.
In 1972 the Full Membership was 138. In 1973 Rev. John Abraham, inspite of his ill health, served faithfully till 31 October. The Full Membership was 118. TPAC gave a grant of $ 3,000 towards the Building Project.
Input of Young Ministerial Students and Retired Pastor
In 1974 the Full Membership was 127. Mr. Jacob David, a seminary student, served the churches in Kluang and Cha’ah from 1 November 1973 till 31 April 1974. When he left, Mr. Peter Devadason, also a ministerial student served the churches. The Church school organised a VBS. Miss Ruth Beckett and Miss Saraswathy Suppiah conducted training for the Church School teachers. In 1975, when Mr. Peter Devadason left at the end of April, the church was without a pastor till Rev. William F. Harris came in October. Rev. Rasanayakam helped in the Holy Communion services. The Full Membership was 84 with 81 Preparatory Members and 6 Affiliate Members. A “Lay Evangelism School” was conducted by Rev. Francis Sunderaraj and his team from 1-4 May. In 1977 Rev. William Harris left Malaysia in April because of immigration problems. Pastor Devadass Ratnam served from May 1977. The Gethsemane Chicken Farm attracted many supporters.
Young Graduate Ministers take on Pastoral Role
From May 1977 to 1980 Rev. Devadass Ratnam was the Pastor. In 1978, the part conversion of the Agriculture land to Residential was approved. The Gethsemane Chicken Farm Committee was headed by Mr. K. Solomon. The church was grateful to Dr. Sam W.Pakianathan the Chairman of the Board on Social Concerns and the Executive Board for their support. In 1979 the Full Membership was 128. The Church library was functioning for the past one year. Books were distributed to members in Bekok, Paloh, and (Sun Meng) Chan Wing. A new Committee was formed for the Gethsemane Chicken Farm and it looked into the problems and needs of the Farm. The Building Plans of the Church was finalised. The estimated cost was RM 65,520. The Fund stood at RM 27,882.69. In 1980 Rev. Devadass Ratnam served till March. Mr. John Millason replaced him temporarily. Pastor A. E. Joseph arrived in June and served till May 1981. The Full membership was 113. Gethsemane Chicken Farm was closed due to the prevailing situation.
Church Moves into New Sanctuary and Expands its Ministry
From June 1981 – 1988 Rev. C. Jayaraj was the Pastor. In 1981 the Full Membership was 123. Bible studies were held at Claire 1 & Claire 11, Chan Wing and Bekok. The church donated RM 50 towards the 6 families whose homes were burnt down. The estimated cost of the new church building was RM 106,000. The Church received RM 10,000 from the government. The church applied for a loan of RM 30,000 from the Trustees and a further RM 31,000 was requested by giving a part of their land for mortgage. They raised RM 44,000. In 1982 the Full Membership was 150 when 27 members were restored. The church building was completed and dedicated on Sunday 22 August.
The WSCS raised RM 100 from the sale of rice. The Social Concerns Committee raised RM 3,171.29 from part time work and bought things that were needed for the Church. In 1983 the Full Membership was 160. Twenty youths attended the MYF Institute held in Brickfields. The Church settled RM 15,000 out of the RM 62,000 loan taken from the Trustees. TMC Sentul donated their organ to the church.
In 1984 the Full Membership was 175 with 15 received on Confession of Faith. There were 75 children in the Church School. Church School was also held in Yong Peng Estate & Chan Wing Estate. About 100 children attended the Church School retreat held on 13 July. About 15 youths attended the MYF Institute held in Batang Berjuntai in April and 10 youths attended the Leadership Camp held in Ipoh in August. WSCS contributed RM 200 towards the church Building Fund through “Rice Collection”. The Social Concern Committee helped to clear the Tamil School field when the request came from the Parent Teachers Association. They also cleared the cemetery ground. Rev.Denison and Rev.Jacob David conducted training on Evangelism. In July, a revival meeting was conducted with Rev. Gabriel Jabanathan as the Speaker. TMC Cha’ah worshipped in the new Tamil Methodist Church which was built in 1982. The church struggled to pay the heavy loan commitment of RM 64,000 with interest accumulating. In 1985 the Full Membership was 194. There were 70 children in the Church school in Cha’ah. A retreat was held for the WSCS members and the Speaker was Mrs. Joy Pandian and Rev. Solomon Abraham. Rev. Victor Vethamani was the speaker for the Leadership Training Course organised by the MYF. Evangelistic work was carried out where there was not much opposition. In Chan Wing Estate, two evangelistic meetings were held. A seminar for two days was conducted by Rev. Denison Jayasooria for those interested in evangelism. The church thanked the Conference for granting permission to appeal to the various churches to help settle their loan.
Giving Increases and so did Help Given for Outside Causes
In 1986 the Full Membership was 199. Regular Sunday services were at 8pm. The Outreach work was temporarily suspended because of the opposition. Members reached out through personal evangelism. Regular weekly prayer meetings were held in the five outreach areas. Revival Meetings were held from 18 and 19 August with Mr. S. Selvaraj as the Speaker. A Kindergarten was started with an enrolment of 15. The pastor, chairman and few members of the Cha’ah Building Committee visited the churches in the TAC and managed to raise a substantial amount within 11 months. The debt in 1986 was RM 18,000. In 1987 the Full Membership was 221. The church focused on the Prayer Ministry. They had All-Night Prayers, Church Prayer Cell and on Sundays a few met at the prayer chapel on a hill for intercessory prayer. Outreach meetings were held in ten different places with a focus on Paloh. The church had 12 Outreach Lay Workers, 10 of whom attended the Outreach Lay Workers Conference in Melaka.
The church kindergarten had about 19 children with 2 teachers. The Church finance improved and they gave a total of RM 9,260 towards causes outside the local church. The church also settled the loan of RM 52,000 taken from the Trustees. The loan with the interest was paid up within 1 ½ years. In 1988 the Full Membership was 223. Four new families were won to Christ. The church was deeply concerned that many youths were moving out of Cha’ah for job opportunities. The church started a Banana Tree Cultivation on its 1 ¼ acres of land.The church spent RM 6,000 to renovate the kindergarten hall.
From 1989 – 1990 Rev. David Paul Raj was the Pastor. In 1989 the Full Membership was 273 (50 members were restored). Within a year he was able to consolidate and reclaim some members. Outreach work was done in 8 areas including Segamat and Paloh. In Segamat a building was rented and dedicated on 19 May and in Paloh a building was rented and dedicated on 20 May. In 1990 the Full Membership was 238. On Sunday 30 September, 18 adults were received through Confirmation. Sunday worship was at 7.15pm.
In 1991 Rev. S. Arulandu was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 240. The Church School improved with the new Superintendent and new teachers. Cell groups were organised and they met regularly. The church had 166 in the Preparatory Roll. In 1992 Rev. Elanko Kannan was the Pastor till June. When he was transferred with effect from 1 July 1992, the Kluang pastor Rev. Jeyabal David covered both Kluang and Cha’ah. In 1992, the Full Membership was 215. The work in Segamat Preaching Point came under the Sagil pastor and church. The Southern District Conference resolved that the Segamat Preaching point of TMC Cha’ah be made a separate Local Conference in 1993.
In 1993 Rev. Jeyabal David was the Pastor with Church Worker Mr. John Maniam. The Full Membership was 202. The following were the four outreach ministries: (a) Segamat, 30 people attended the service every Friday (b) Paloh, with two families meeting twice a month. (c) Yong Peng met twice a month (d) Gemas, 3 families were regularly visited. There were 5 Church Schools: Cha’ah, Segamat, Division 1, Paloh and Chan Wing Estate with a total of 80 children and 8 teachers. The church started a Van Project and also a Church Roof Renovation Project costing about RM40,000.
From 1994 to 1995 Rev. S. Duraisingam was the Pastor-in-charge. In 1994 Mr. John Mark served as the Supply Pastor. The Full Membership was 234. The Outreach services continued as usual. In 1995 Pastor Moses Jayaseelan was placed on Assignment here. The Full Membership was 230.There were Four Area Fellowship Groups: (a) Cha’ah Baru. (b) Factory Division (c) Taman Damai (d) Army Camp. The Church School had 48 children in Cha’ah, 10 in Segamat, 10 in Yong Peng and 15 in Paloh. There were a total of 12 teachers.The church raised RM8,000 for their van project.
In 1996 Pastor Moses Jayaseelan became their pastor. The Full Membership was 201. Special Meetings were arranged for 5 days in Cha’ah and Segamat with Rev. David Tharmakan as the Speaker. On Easter Sunday the church organised a procession around Cha’ah. The MYAF was officially formed on 14 July 1996. They had 40 members. RM10000 was raised for the Van Fund.
In 1997 and 1998 Pastor S. Jayabalan was the pastor. The Full Membership was 244. There were outreach work/Home Fellowships in: Rompin, Bukit Tenang, Ladang Claire, Labis, Labis Guthrie, Ladang Chan Wing, Bekok, Yong Peng and Gemas. In Segamat, weekly house meetings were held in addition to the Sunday service. The church purchased a new van. A Fund Raising Dinner was organised on Easter Sunday and about 500 people attended. The Conference President, Rev. David Tharmakan graced the occasion. The church raised funds for the medical expenses of Miss Rita Devadass, a kidney patient. A total of RM 34,386 was received from churches. Another RM 40,614 was received from outside sources. This was great effort by the church. Miss Rita Devadass went to be with the Lord on 21 September 1998.
Focused Attention on Children’s Ministry
In 1998 the Full Membership was 215. They conducted an all-night prayer on 31 August 98 and another on 20 October. Also, apart from having Area Fellowships in 7 places, there were Outreach meetings in the following areas: Yong Peng, Guthrie, Bekok, Claire, Labis, Tenang, Batu Anam, Gemas and Rompin. Area fellowship leaders meet with the Pastor twice a month. There were 60 children and 7 teachers in the Church School. To encourage effective learning they had introduced Report Cards and parents were invited to meet with the teachers. They also organised memory verse competition on the 26 September. MYF had 23 youths. MW had 22 members. MYAF had 18 members. The church replaced their sagging Church roof for RM 46,000 using steel purlins. In 1999 Rev. Abraham Ponniah was the Pastor with Pastor Jevaretnam Sowria, as the Assistant. The Full Membership was 202. There were three Church Schools: Cha’ah had 50 students 7 teachers, Segamat had 10 students and 2 teachers and Yong Peng had 10 students and 2 teachers. A Senior Citizen Fellowship was newly formed and they met twice. A Merdeka Service was held on 31 August. About 60 people attended. There was a Prayer Walk on 1 October. Seven area fellowship groups participated and prayed for Cha’ah. In 2000 Rev. Jevaretnam Sowria was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 211. They visited new areas and established contacts at Labis, Tenang Station, Bukit Siput, Taman Putra, Lam Trading, Selampur Estate, Batu 6, Taman Gemas Baru, Taman Gemas Jaya, Gemas and Rompin. In 2001 Rev. Abraham Selvanayagam was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 203.The church requested for a pastor for themselves, as the demand for ministry was great.
Ministry among the Indonesian Migrants
From 2002 to 2005, Rev. David Rasahpandy was the Pastor. In 2002, the Full Membership was 204. In 2003 the pastor was assisted by Ministerial Candidate Mr. Jeremiah Thomas. The Paloh worship service was on Fridays at 8pm. The Full Membership was 214. There were 7 days of revival meetings, for which members fasted and prayed. The results of the revival meeting were very encouraging. In 2004, Ministerial Student Mr. Steven Gunarajah assisted. On Tuesdays there was a ministry among the Indonesian migrant workers in Muazam at 7.30pm. About 45 people attended. Full Membership of Cha’ah was 215. In 2005 the Full Membership was 230. About 65 people attended the Muazam service. Due to work permits, some left and the number dwindled.
In 2006 and 2007 Rev. John Simson was the Pastor. In 2006, Mr. Kunabalan, a student on one year practical assisted. The Full Membership was 230. About 265 believers attended the Sunday service. In the Segamat Outreach, many new families were coming. The Muadzam Shah Indonesian Ministry was now conducted once a fortnight among the 18 Indonesian migrant workers. In Yong Peng there were 3 families worshiping. Three cell groups were started for the purpose of evangelism in Paloh Town, Paloh Mill and Kempas. In 2007 the Segamat Outreach progressed well and Hindu contacts were established through Cell Group ministry. Four of them were ready for baptism. Mr & Mrs Saminathan gave good leadership. The Muadzam Shah Indonesian ministry was passed on to an Indonesian, Pastor Nelson. In Paloh, there was a full time worker and the work progressed well. The Full Membership was 187. The church has settled the AEC loan of RM 12,079.95. The church went through some struggles which affected their numerical as well as their financial growth.
Grand Easter Celebration Inviting the Public
In 2008 and 2009 Approved Supply Pastor Patmanathan was the pastor. In 2008 the Full Membership was 170. In Yong Peng 6 people were baptized. 6 Nepalese attended worship services. In 2009 the Full Membership was 166. From 2010 to 2013 Rev. M. Joseph was the Pastor. In 2010, 11 youths were confirmed and 16 new members were added from other church fellowships. The Full Membership was 208. The MYF had 25 members and they were vibrant and participated in and contributed to all the church ministries. The Segamat Outreach moved to a new place of worship. In 2011, the Full Membership was 183. The Small Groups met in 7 areas. In 2012 the Full Membership was 196. A special Easter Evangelistic Gathering was held at the church compound. Some 500 people, including those from other faiths, attended. The church started new pioneering ministry in Batu Pahat and in Bekok. In 2013 the Full Membership was 206. Easter Celebration was held in the church compound and 180 non-believers participated.
In 2014 Rev. John Simson was the Pastor-in-charge with Part Time Church Worker Pastor Jeyaseelan. The Full Membership was 207. The church declared Wednesdays as Evangelism Day. They met 20 unbelievers to share the Gospel through Personal Evangelism. Bekok house meeting began in August.
The church adopted 22 Myanmar children through the MMM Gift of Hope Project. One Lay Preacher was assigned to each outreach point to help in the preaching ministry. In 2015 and 2016 Rev. Steven Arumugam was the Pastor. In 2015, the Full Membership was 190. The church gave RM2,000 for the Nepal Disaster Fund. They started Orang Asli ministry in Bekok on 21 March. The Johore Sultan agreed to give RM100,000 for the church roof repair and renovation. They would do the repair and renovation when they receive the cash. In 2016 the Full Membership was 181. From 2017 onwards Rev. Anthony Panan was the Pastor. In 2017, the Full Membership was 179. In 2018 the Church prayer ministry was on Tuesdays. Family Day Prayer was observed on Mondays. The church was going through spiritual transformation and prayer played a vital role in this. The Outreach ministry in Segamat was growing well and they continued to express the need for a fulltime worker.The Full Membership was 176.
In 2019, Rev. Anthony Panan continues as the pastor for the third year. The Full Membership in January was 173. The Lay Leader is Mr. Yesupatham Govindan and the LCEC Chairperson is Mr. Gunasegaran Perumal. They have two Outreaches – Segamat and Yong Peng. The membership in the Agencies is as follows: MYF (8), MSF (13) and MW (24). There are 4 teachers and 25 children in the Church School.
Conclusion: TMC Cha’ah has a memorable history. They have faced many challenges, especially finance, but the members, especially the women, have creatively helped the church to rise up to the need. Very often they had to share their pastor with TMC Kluang, but when the pastoral needs arose, the lay people have helped the pastor-in-charge to discharge his duties. When there was a financial need, both within and outside the local church, the members gave sacrificially and generously. They laboured in the Paloh Outreach and today this Outreach is a Local Church of their own. Their Full Membership was 89 in 1964 and it is 173 in 2019. With the potential God has given them, and with their sincere commitment and Spirit led actions, TMC Cha’ah can rise to even greater heights for the glory of God.
Methodist Journals – MAC, TPAC, TAC