CCR originated in 1967 when some Catholics experienced the presence and power of God working in a new and deeper way in their lives. This experience of God, which they described as being “baptised in the Spirit,” drew them into a far deeper spiritual life than before. They wanted to give their lives more fully to God. They experienced his love more deeply, and appreciated even more deeply the spiritual riches to be found in the Catholic Church.
They discovered, in particular, that God was wanting to be far more active in their lives than they had previously understood. They experienced gifts of the Holy Spirit that enabled them to help and serve others, such as praying for healing, and teaching and preaching in more powerful ways. They found God to be vitally interested and involved in every aspect of their lives, no matter how seemingly minor. God worked in their lives in a powerful way and, through them, healed and transformed others.
The CCR came to Sabah at a critical time of the local Church’s history when many of the foreign priests had been expelled and the Church lacked priests. It was also a time of spiritual dryness. Fr Tobias Chi, then parish priest of Sacred Heart Parish Kota Kinabalu, saw the increasing apathy of parishioners, particularly the youth who liked to hang outside the church while Mass was on. He called them “outstanding” members of the church.
Daniel Kong was instrumental in bringing the CCR to SHC. Having experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with a group at the Baptist Church in Likas, he felt he should bring the Renewal to SHC because Catholic youths were being lured away to attend prayer meetings in Likas. He approached Fr Chi and a month later after the Youth Mass on a Friday night in April 1974, a small prayer group started. This group met every Friday at the hall below the rectory under the guidance of Fr Chi and information gleaned from books on the movement. But the leaders felt inadequate and met again with Fr Chi who gave them a manual entitled The Life in the Spirit Seminar. In August 1974 Fr Chi brought eight youth from the parish to Bundu Tuhan for a retreat and to go through the first Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS). The eight were: Daniel Kong, Agnes Tai, Joan Wong, Angelina Amaladoss, Anna Yap, Agnes Wong, John Ho and Gregory Sakial.
After that first experience, the CCR spread to Stella Maris Tanjung Aru. A retreat was organised in late 1974 with participants from both churches facilitated by Fr Guido Gockel mhm at the Baptist Retreat Centre Kionsom Inanam. From thence the renewal spread to other parts of Sabah. In December 1975 a statewide youth camp was held in Kionsom Inanam. The camp attracted many youth. Many LSS have been conducted since then, in different formats, in the three main languages. There is a prayer group in almost every parish in Sabah. The Sacred Heart Prayer Group was later known as Bethel Prayer Group. In 2012 it was renamed Bethel English Prayer Community.
One of the developments of this renewal was the formation of a covenant community. In order to live a more committed charismatic lifestyle, a covenant community was formed in 1977 upon the return of three members – Daniel and Agnes Kong, Peter Thien – from the Kansas City Conference and the Word of God Covenant Community in Ann Arbor USA. Thirteen members covenanted themselves. However, this first community suffered many setbacks and eventually broke up in 1980. That same year, a State Service Team was formed with Joseph Chee as chairman to oversee the CCR in Sabah. Today this service team is known as Archdiocesan Service Team coordinated by George Thien (019-8623373).
It was not until Daniel Kong and Joseph Chee returned from visiting the Emmanuel Covenant Community in Brisbane Australia in 1982 that the CCR received a new impetus. The Light of Jesus Christ Covenant Community (LJCCC) was formed on 31 July 1983 with 84 members. Later, the Chinese-speaking and Bahasa Melayu-speaking communities were formed. The LJCCC organises marriage renewal seminars, Alpha, Emmaus Weekend Experience, Inner Healing and Transformation Seminars, retreat/recollection based on the Passion of the Christ, and other in-house activities for their members. Their ongoing evangelisation activities include outreach to the villages and monthly devotion to the Holy Spirit (since 1.4.1995). Younger members are formed under the Royal Ambassadors (RA) with a yearly Holy Camp for them.