1926. The gospel was brought to Ipoh by the grace of God.
Mr. Goh Yin Foo was very ill with chronic stomach ulcer. At the hospital, he was fed milk through a tube. He was losing blood and could hardly sit up. The doctors in the General Hospital conceded that there was nothing they could do for him and gave him a terminal discharge, to await the inevitable. There was no more hope of finding a cure for his ailment.
The daughter of Mr. Goh Yin Foo was a nurse in the General Hospital. She had a colleague whose father was a member of the True Jesus Church in Sitiawan. Through their acquaintance, Bro Song Yew Kong from Sitiawan brought Elder Philip Foo to preach to Ms. Goh. Eld. Philip Foo was from the True Jesus Church in China. He came to Malaya to preach the gospel of salvation to his relatives and friends in Sitiawan.
Eld. Philip Foo and Bro. Song testified to Ms. Goh concerning the abidance of God, the power of healing and the casting of demons. She conveyed the message to her father, Mr. Goh Yin Foo, who then invited Eld. Philip Foo to his home. Eld. Foo preached to Mr Goh, Freading to him James 5:14-15, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”
Eld. Foo told Mr. Goh that if he believed, he must be baptised again in the name of Jesus. After listening to the testimonies, Mr. Goh accepted the truth and he was baptized on 31st July 1926 with his wife and four daughters. During his baptism, he saw the water of the river turned red like blood. He was already on drips and was carried to the baptismal site on a stretcher. But after the baptism, he came out of the water and walked back home. He was completely cured of his illness.
The seed of the gospel had sown in Ipoh. Those who witnessed the power of God, believed.
Services started in a house at the General Hospital Quarters. Later, the members gathered in Bro. Goh’s house in Kampong Java for services. Missionaries from the True Jesus Church throughout Malaya and Singapore came to assist in the divine work. The gospel spread rapidly, and many were baptized. It was reported that at one period, there was baptism almost every week.
1927. By 1927, we had about 60 members. Through the guidance and arrangement of God, Dns. Phoebe Lau (Lim Seng Chiew) offered her house along Anderson Road to the church. On 4th December 1927, a dedication service of the chapel was conducted by Eld. Barnabas Chang. Eld. Barnabas Chang was one of the early workers in China. From 9th to 11th December, evangelistic meetings were held at the Sun Cinema to accommodate the large crowd. Thus, the church in Ipoh was established. Through the grace of our Lord the number of members in Ipoh church grew rapidly until the bungalow could not accommodate the increasing congregation.
Around 1930, Bro. Goh Siew Hock, the son of Dn. Goh Yin Foo, experienced the grace of God when his wife and children were healed through faith and prayer. He offered part of his land at No.4, Green Lane to build a chapel there.
At that time the chapel was built to accommodate a congregation of 300 members. This indicated to us the growth of the church then and the foresight of the early members that the word of God would go marching on and those who believed were added by the Lord.
1930’s. Dn. John Voon moved to Ipoh and joined the ministry work with Dn. Goh Yin Foo, Seth Lee Pak Yin, Gaius Ng, Lim Tee Ee and Ng Ah Lam.
The gospel was preached to Kopisan, about 20 km from Ipoh. Kopisan then was in the vicinity of today’s Tambun Hot Spring. Through the grace of God, a boy who was dead was brought back to life. Dn. John Voon and his wife would walk to Kopisan to preach to the people there. After believing and baptised, the members from Kopisan would walk to the chapel in Green Lane, Ipoh to keep the Sabbath. They would start their journey from Kopisan before sunrise. The journey passed through the jungle where there were tigers. They would each carry a torch and shout to one another to ensure that none went missing along the way.
There was also an Indian congregation of about 50 believers. S. Ponniah attended the True Jesus Church in China while he was working there. He came to Ipoh in 1930 and was ordained as Dn. Zacchaeus S. Ponniah on 18th July 1931. He led this group of Indian believers during that period. Later. he went back to Madathupatti, Tamil Nadu, India to spread the gospel there.
The church prospered, having a congregation of about 300 members.
1940’s to 1950’s. During the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945, there was unrest and persecutions. Believers dispersed into the jungle and other rural places to take refuge. The chapel at Green Lane was used by the Japanese Military Administration as an interrogation center. Some members who remained in Ipoh gathered in Dn. Goh’s house in Kg. Jawa for services. The war ended in 1945, the church re-gathered the dispersed believers.
The churches throughout Malaya felt the need to coordinate and to support one another in the divine work in Malaya.
Through the guidance and motivation of the Holy Spirit, the First Malaya Church Delegates Conference was held in Ipoh on 23rd August 1947. Fourteen delegates from 9 churches and a full-time preacher participated in this conference. Dn. Seth Lee chaired the conference. During this conference the “True Jesus Church Advisory Board, Malaya” was set up. Dn. John Voon was elected as the first chairman of the Advisory Board and later in subsequent years. We thanked God that Ipoh church was able to contribute to the initial set up of the organisation in Malaya that later developed to the General Assembly of the True Jesus Church in Malaysia.
As the church grew, it was timely to look into the needs of the younger generation.
Religious Education and the Youth League were established to pass on the faith to the younger generation and to introduce the youths to divine service.
The church was accepted as a legal entity by the Registrar of Societies of the Federation of Malaya in 27th October 1950, with its name as True Jesus Mission.
1960’s to 1970’s. The True Jesus Churches throughout the world were putting a united effort to strengthen the church. Foreign ministers from Taiwan, assisted us to strengthen our foundation in the truth and established a better system in pastoral and evangelical work.
In addition to the local development, the early workers assisted in the divine word in various places in the state of Perak. To spread its wings to new areas and to assist the surrounding areas, the Perak Evangelical Centre was established by Ipoh church.
This unit provides manpower and financial support to the divine work in Perak Region. They reached out to outlying places like Taiping, Sg. Siput, Sg. Durian, Kampar, Teluk Intan, Bidor, Slim River and Bercham. By so doing, we saw the active utilisation of the resources of the church.
Gradually, the pastoral and evangelical ministries became more established in the 1970’s.
The church held services every weekday nights. Sabbath services were conducted on Saturday morning and afternoon. On Sundays, the youth and children gathered in the morning for their activities while the adults went for family visiting. To pastor families in nearby areas, night services were conducted on Sunday night for families who were staying there. One of which was in Bercham that later progressed to the Brecham church.
In 1970, the church bought a piece of land at 10, Jalan Voon Thian Soo, Ipoh. Having a congregation of about 600 then, the church had to plan ahead. The original chapel sat on a private land. We were not able to freely expand in the place.
1980’s to 1990’s. Application to build a chapel at Jalan Voon Thian Soo was rejected by the authorities. To meet the need of more facilities to accommodate the activities of the church, a shop lot at 12, Jalan Tokong, Ipoh was acquired. In addition to the main services at Green Lane, activities were carried out at Jalan Tokong to complement the divine work.
The physical prosperity of Perak state was brought about by the tin industry. However, the fall of the tin prices in the 70’s, coupled with the decline of the tin deposits in the state saw a sharp fall in the economy of the state. Employment and opportunities were lacking. This caused migration of people out of the state.
So, it was the same with our believers. Due to economic, education and career opportunities, we saw the migration of Ipoh members to other states and countries. The membership of the church gradually declined to about 100. Many of whom who remained in Ipoh were senior members. Divine workers were lacking.
2000’s onwards. There was a need to re-position us. We investigated the needs of the church and planned the future continuation of the church. We need to look into the improvement of the facilities, to accommodate the needs of the church and the continuation of human resource to ensure the availability of workers in the future.
The original chapel was built to meet the needs at that time and cater for the growth in the foreseeable future. But more than 70 years had passed. The needs of the church have expanded. In 2009, we looked into this matter again. Our initial consideration was to acquire part of the land in the original location that sits on the private property. Later, we tried to apply for the conversion of the land at Jalan Voon Thian Soo to religious use.
Finally, we decided to apply to build a chapel, renovate and extend the present bungalow at Jalan Voon Thian Soo. We thanked God, we received the approval from the authorities for this project. It was His guidance to our past leaders to prepare this place for such a time like this. Members who have migrated to other areas gave strong support. We started the construction of the present chapel in April 2012. On 16th June 2013, we dedicated the chapel at 10, Jalan Voon Thian Soo, Ipoh to the Lord.
The chapel was completed. Facilities were available. But we need the human resources to put the facilities into good use, to turn it into agents of prosperity for the divine work. As mentioned earlier, the migration of members out of Ipoh caused a dwindling of our workforce.
To meet this area of our needs, we must rekindle resources from within and to introduce resources from without. We thank God, members re-committed themselves to the divine work. Some members who have migrated put in special efforts to return to assist in the work. Resources from nearby areas like Bercham and even much further like the Northern region and Central region of Malaysia, offered their services to the Lord, in Ipoh.
Religious Education, Youth services and other activities were re-introduced. Care for our senior members were heightened. Special efforts were given to develop a future group of leaders who are able to take over the responsibility.
We thank God for His guidance. The work of God will continue. The progress of the church is in His hands. All praise and glory be to our Lord Jesus Christ.