Beyond Familiar Pastures

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1999 was the year I was missioned to Sabah.  Arriving in Sabah, I felt I was in another country.  I didn’t think that I was still in Malaysia.  It was just so different from the West Malaysia I’d lived in all my life until then.  The culture, customs, life-style and languages of the people in Sabah are very different.

In my heart though, I sensed that the Good Shepherd was leading me to where St Mary Euphrasia would have loved to pitch her tent!

A folktale on rice cultivation in Sabah introduced me to this beautiful “land below the wind”.  Over the years, as I worked in our outreach ministries in Tenghilan, helped families, teenage girls, women and children of Seri Murni Crisis Centre, youth on out Youth PREPLink programme, and the urban pastoral ministry, I’ve found that it is important, sacred and most useful to be familiar with local traditions and practices, values, native laws, beliefs and the cultural background of our clients.

For me, this positive approach to the Good Shepherd mission enables me to relate with each person armed with our Good Shepherd values of understanding, respect, appreciation, patience, caring, compassion, dignity and justice.  As much as it is challenging, it is also rewarding, and not without its own surprises.  I’ve learnt a lot about rural, semi-urban and urban people of various ethnic and social backgrounds through the many relationships formed, and they have certainly given me a greater awareness and acceptance of the uniqueness of each person.

During the past year, I got more involved in the pastoral ministry in our parish.  I believe that all my varied experiences from working in Good Shepherd sponsored ministries have equipped me to continue my Good Shepherd mission beyond familiar pastures, into dark valleys and restful waters, led by the Good Shepherd Himself.  I can see that our mission of reconciliation is very much needed and appreciated everywhere.  My present pastoral ministry is very meaningful, hopeful, encouraging, as well as challenging for me as I live my Good Shepherd charism and spirituality.

Together with our lay partners, and Associates of the Good Shepherd who are also involved in pastoral ministries, our Good Shepherd presence continues to spread beyond the familiar pastures of traditional Good Shepherd ministries in residential care.

~ Sr. Teresa Chye, rgs  ~

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