Pressing on in Malaysia
Malaysia has a truly established multi-racial society, composed of Malays (58%), Chinese (36%), Indians (5%), and others (1%). Having learned that inter-racial strife is totally unproductive, it is commendable indeed that the populous lives in a manifestly coordinated fashion, which we trust will be maintained undisturbed as we near 50 years of Independence in 2007. Being manifestly multi-racial, it is clearly multi-cultural which is displayed in the various religions. Creeds that are present include Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and thankfully, Christianity. Malay, being the national language, is the official medium in all schools. It is true that the Chinese have many dialects, as have the Indians, depending on the area from which they respectively originated. Hence the form of conversation varies, though English still holds good throughout the country. In my earlier days it was interesting to observe the variation in clothing: the Malay women would be dressed in a Sarong and Baju, Chinese women were usually clothed in a Sam Foo. Now it is considerably changed, though most Indian women still appear in their Sari apparel. Normally the casual visitor finds the cuisine strange due to its being hot, hotter, and likely the hottest they have ever tasted. These terms are not describing the temperature of the food but the chili hotness it offers.
The national religion is Islam and the ruling is strict in forbidding any evangelizing of the Muslim population, of whatever race they may be. This is something that causes those engaged in the work of the gospel endless concern and exercise, yet there is evidently not a ray of hope that ultimately liberty may be granted to evangelize the population without any discrimination. No one is admitted in terms of missionary work and certainly permanent residence is not available for anyone wishing to engage in the work of the Lord. This has been so since Merdeka, the Malay word for Independence. Fortunately I obtained my permanent residence under British rule and to date it is wondrously operative in the mercy of God.
Most nominal religious groups are operative in the country. Assembly work began slightly over 150 years ago and has continued to this day. Throughout the country there are 74 companies composed of 35 English–speaking, and those that use Chinese number about 22, Tamil-speaking 5, also there are useful companies of the indigenous race, 9 in all, that speak Senai. Unfortunately since 1961, due to our ministry and mode of operation in terms of the testimony of the Lord, we have been totally deprived of fellowship with the companies that once were our sphere of operation in the work of the Lord in this land. Yet the Lord is gracious and in His mercy He has enabled us to see rich tokens of blessing in the salvation of souls and the formation of assemblies that seek to honor His name by adhering to the plain and precious Word of God.
The assembly in Paramount, Petaling Jaya, was formed in May 1969, and since then there has been most encouraging growth so that at this moment of time there are well over 100 in fellowship with over 40 sitting behind, which assures us of the rich blessing of the Lord, unworthy though we may be. Our brethren hold forth consistently in the gospel with frequent short series. With a temperature of over 90 F, with minimal change throughout the year, extended series are not practical. God has raised up many young brethren who are most capable of engaging in what we usually term as special gospel meetings. Many of these young brethren have joined with me in meetings and God has richly blessed our feeble efforts; we have seen much lasting encouragement. Likewise in the ministry the Lord has raised up many thoroughly capable of holding forth in a week or more of wholesome teaching from the Holy Scriptures. One brother by the name of Boey Mun Leong conducts the senior Bible Class in Paramount, and he is exceptionally gifted. Tract distribution engages many every two weeks, yet the response is not as is desired or expected, but the exercise is maintained. Sunday School work is a manifest interest on the part of most of the assembly who are free to help.
Since 1973 we have managed to convene a conference, held usually for five days toward the end of May and the beginning of June. This year was our largest. Brethren William Banks (Scotland), Howard Barnes (England), and Jackie Palmer (Ulster) gave valued help. Once again, I also was able to contribute in the ministry.
In association with Paramount, we have two new outreaches: one in USJ4 and another in Puchong. Every Lord’s Day there is a Sunday School held in USJ4, while fortnightly a gospel meeting is at 8:00 p.m., following our Paramount Gospel meeting. It is encouraging to see the interest developing. Hopefully, we look forward to an assembly being established in USJ4. In Puchong the work is basically the exercise of two of our very talented brethren, namely Lim Beng Hup and John See. These brethren are well versed in the truth of God and can present it efficiently as being helped of God. They value our prayers as with them we look forward to an assembly being established in this vast locality of need.
Just over 12 miles from us is the work of the testimony in Klang. The former meeting place in Eng Ann has been sold and a new building has been purchased, but not as yet occupied due to delays in matters beyond our ability to change. For years this assembly has proved the power and blessing of God in both the work of the gospel and of the ministry. Again it has pleased the Spirit of God to raise up men deeply exercised and truly convicted in relation to the truth of God, ably equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit to present the Word of God on any specific occasion and at every opportunity. Just now they are using the hall which is in the area of their new outreach at Kota Kemuning. Here again God has blessed His Word with souls trusting the Savior and obeying His Word in baptism, resulting in their now gathering with the saints in local testimony. For a number of years now, Gideon Khoo has joined with me in proclaiming the gospel in the areas mentioned. He is excellent in the gospel and, needless to say, has rich ability too in ministry. He and his wife, Maria, moved their residence to Kota Kemuning with commendable intentions.
For eight years I lived and served the Lord in Malacca, where there are two assemblies functioning in the city and three in the state. The newly furnished hall in Malacca is capable of offering the two assemblies room for their respective meetings. One uses English while the other uses Mandarin. Again it has pleased the Lord to bless His Word as the work increases and has extended to yet another outreach south in the State.
In recent months two new companies have been formed, one in Ipoh and the other in Joo Chiat, Singapore, and they are certainly depending upon the Lord to prosper their exercise. We’d earnestly request your prayer for them. Due to the total disregard of truth in the companies with which they were originally associated, several believers felt it was time they gathered out to the Lord’s name. They have invited us to help them in their exercise. At the beginning of July, I had the privilege of being with the saints in Ipoh; they are truly devoted to the Word of God and to the God of the Word. I had one of the most demanding weekends ever when I held forth from the Epistle to the Ephesians. The opening meeting on the Friday was an hour and a half. Believe it or not, the next day I had spaced out for me four and a half hours in ministry with an hour at night for the gospel. On Lord’s Day after the breaking of bread I had a full hour which enabled me to cover the Epistle. I have been invited to be with the new gathering in Joo Chiat for a period of ministry, which I hope to fulfil shortly in His will.
Just to witness the rich mercy of the Lord throughout these years of labor in Malaysia is truly comforting. It is also encouraging to see the work enlarging and extending. It creates a deep sense of need which He in His grace alone can meet. Hence we thoughtfully employ Paul’s appeal to the Thessalonian saints, “Brethren, pray for us.”