Having discerned a genuine love for the Lord, observable lives who were exercised to witness to His marvelous grace, and who were determined to continue until the Lord returned, a small company of recently baptized believers established local assembly testimony in the city of Kuching, according to the pattern of the NT, with the first remembrance meeting on the Lord’s day, May 10, 2015. Although there has been a history of denominational “Christian” work since the 1800s, this is the first ever local church testimony in recent known history in the state of Sarawak, East Malaysia.
The new assembly was encouraged by the confirming presence of brethren from Paramount, Kota Kemuning, and USJ4 from West Malaysia, as well as from Joo Chiat, Singapore. Various brethren took part in a few nights of ministry from the Word and in the preaching of the gospel. Hearts were filled with joy as young local brethren stood up with those from the Peninsula assemblies to give thanks to God for His beloved Son at the inaugural breaking of bread meeting.
Comprehension for Life
Believers learn why the NT pattern for Christian gathering and collective self governance is still the most relevant and needful witness today in any locality on this globe. Perceiving things current through the perspective of a biblical worldview derived from the infallible Book of God would be another area that the young believers have found extremely helpful.
The apostle Paul was with the assembly, “coming in and going out at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:28). Making the local assembly the center around which their daily activities revolved was an experience everyone newly “in fellowship” had to begin to know in practice.
Consideration of His Will
We are still gathering in a brother’s house. However, in a few months time, it is anticipated, with keenness, that a property that has just been procured will eventually be furnished and occupied. How delightful to post the sign, “Gospel Hall: Christians Gathered to the Name of Christ” upon this public place of testimony!
This has been a useful experience for all the brethren, and the need was understood from the first day. Sarawak, like all other states in Malaysia, has been strict relative to procuring lands for “religious places of worship.” The most important lesson was waiting upon the Lord, and learning how the mind of the Lord becomes evident. It is not through the dictates of one man, nor of the majority, but through the apparent satisfaction of principles in the Word of God.
The next major question was, “Where would the funds for the hall come from?” How thankful were the hearts of believers when letters were read at prayer meeting relating how brethren elsewhere, who had been aware and were following updates on the work in Sarawak, responded with exercised contribution to the local need.
Capacity for the Lord
Communicating the truth of God by common persons taught and raised up directly from the Word of God without “recognized seminary training” was another extraordinary thing for the new company. It was crucial for believers here to learn that it is the manifold grace of God, appreciated individually and worked out before Him personally, and imparted through the ministry of the Risen Christ, that the local church possesses a variety of ability for service, and thus progresses and grows spiritually.
The preaching of the gospel as a collective endeavor began seeing its fruit to His eternal glory. The assembly has been encouraged by a few souls that have come to trust the Savior and have been added to the fellowship.
Challenges in this Region
There is potential for further development in a few other localities, namely, the towns of Sibu and the interior town of Kapit. Working in these other areas requires a command of either the Malay (the national language) or the Iban language, the common tongue of the majority of the Dayak native tribes.
A watchlist for 2017 ranks Malyasia 31st, above China (39th), of 50 countries considered as places where Christians face the most severe persecution for their faith. Sarawak is the one state where Muslims do not form the majority of the population. The local assembly had the joy of seeing a young college student from Islamic background come to trust the Lord Jesus as Savior in 2016. He faces a hard time, having made known his profession when confronted by the school authorities. There is no legal provision for apostasy in Islam in this country, and currently there are three landmark cases of conversion being brought before the Federal Court for the first time. We pray that the Lord will overrule, and that the path will open for our young brother to be at liberty to gather without fear of persecution or hindrance.
Companies of the Lord’s People
Twice a year, I make visits to the assembly gathered at Ipoh Gospel Centre in the state of Perak, West Malaysia. They organize a four-day conference every December. The assembly at the Paramount Gospel Hall continues its faithful testimony, with the highlight being their annual five-day conference in June. Brother Gideon Khoo from the Kota Kemuning assembly has given much help at both conferences, as well as helping in the ministry of the Word and in the gospel in the Paramount and Puchong assemblies. The USJ4 assembly has had a promising Sunday school work going on for a number of years. The Malacca Gospel Hall has been a testimony since before WWII, and it is the prayer of many believers that the Lord would be pleased to strengthen and encourage the hands of the brethren there.
Though not a part of Malaysia, Singapore is virtually a “relative.” Last August, I had the privilege of taking part in the annual gospel meetings organized by the saints at the Joo Chiat Gospel Hall.
With such companies of the Lord’s people in proximity, our prayer would be that the newly formed assembly in Kuching might know the goodness of God through likeminded pursuit of His Will and Word, for His glory and until He comes.