To the Ends of the Earth: Malaysia Christianity Explored Ministries

As our team at CEM prepares to travel to East Asia next month, we spoke to Mei Ling (East Asia Coordinator - UK) and Sue Yee (Regional Network Director) about ministry in Malaysia.

"When I was growing up (in the 1970s) we were always told by our geography teacher that Malaysia is God’s own country," says Mei Ling, during a recent visit to our London office.

"Due to our geographical location we are protected from major natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, which affect surrounding countries. We have tropical weather throughout the year and are rich in natural resources like timber, rubber and tin.”

As well as having geographical advantages, Malaysia's position between India and China has meant that historically it has been used as a centre of trade. While trading is now more global, Malaysia is still an important ministry hub in East Asia.

Over the years immigrants have brought with them their own religious practices - Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism from China, Hinduism from India, as well as other world faiths. Christianity was introduced through foreign trade initially and then later by missionaries.

Mei Ling describes the multi-faith nature of Malaysia where “on one street you might find a church, a Hindu temple, a Chinese temple and a mosque."

Whilst the national religion is Islam, practiced by 63% of the population, freedom of religion is protected in the Malaysian Constitution and non-Muslims can practice their faith openly.

Mei Ling's own faith was a product of the missionary work in Malaysia. She became a Christian after attending a mission-minded school.

She said: "The verse that really struck me was John 3:16. I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but when I heard this verse I thought it was so wonderful. How could the God who made the universe want to save me so much that he would even send his one and only son to die in my place? It was a very simple message and I trusted Jesus from that day."

Mei Ling now lives in London with her husband and three children, but loves going back to Malaysia to encourage Christians there.

She has noticed a trend that while the older generation hold strong beliefs, increasingly the younger generation is secular.

"People are becoming more and more materialistic, but this will only get them so far", Mei Ling explains.

"I would love us to pick up and fill the hole that modern day idolatry - work, education, money, relationships – cannot fill. My hope is that through the gospel people will find true contentment and the real meaning of life.”

Sue Yee is based in Kuala Lumpur (KL) with her husband and two boys, and champions the evangelism programme at St Mary’s Cathedral.

“We are very privileged at St Mary’s with its central location - we get lots of tourists and visitors from all over the world,” she explains. St Mary’s run Christianity Explored (CE) courses after the services on Sundays as there are so many walk in visitors.

“I got involved with CEM as I was running CE in our church. The relationship started from there.”

We have worked with Sue Yee on a range of translation and dubbing projects (Bahasa Malaysian, Iban, Tamil and Mandarin) with the aim of printing these resources within Malaysia as there are restrictions on shipping them in.

"East Asia comprises a lot of different tribes and tongues and people so the hope is to make the resource available to as many local languages as possible to be able to reach out to the unreached," says Sue Yee.

"We think it’s important for people to hear the gospel message in a language they’re familiar with. It means so much more to the local people when they see how much effort has been made to reach them with the gospel."

Since being able to print the materials in Malaysia there has been a lot of interest from local churches.

“I love CE because it is not afraid to tell the truth. It is clear about the bad news as well as the good news,” she explains.

"We have seen churches who first run it with their members to strengthen their Biblical knowledge and confidence, before running it evangelistically for their guests."

Life Explored, Discipleship Explored, Epic Explorers, CY and SOUL are also being used in Malaysian churches, although these have not yet been translated into other languages.

Sue Yee's son Caleb, 10, also visited our London office and was excited to share his own experience of Christianity Explored.

"When I did CE at my church in Malaysia I was the only child, the most junior one. There were five people over 60. I like the questions and you get to talk about life and death and the gospel of Jesus - that you can never be good enough to earn salvation. It’s good news!"

On life in Malaysia, Caleb said: "I have another brother, Darius, and usually we are a happy family. I like living in Malaysia for the food - I like sushi. KL is a good city. I like the aquarium in the Petronas Towers, I’ve been there three times!"

Caleb was thrilled to meet Rico, after having watched the CE films back home in Malaysia

Caleb is also the youngest donor to our To the Ends of the Earth campaign (pictured above presenting his donation to Rico Tice).

"I was in a commercial last year, it was an advert for The Travel Store and I had to play a game of chess in it. I got given some money for doing it and I thought why not give the money to CE since I had enjoyed it so much. I wanted the money to help other people attend the course in countries around Malaysia," he explains.

Mei Ling jokes that she once accidentally called Christianity Explored Christianity Exported.

“But on reflection, I think this is probably true. We have exported it from the West to the East. But now with the translation work we are exporting it back to the West, places like Canada and local Chinese communities in the UK are using the translated materials. So we are exporting it back to equip people here.”

Mei Ling explains she is looking forward to heading back to Malaysia on the CEM trip next month. She’s excited to make new friends and explore what CEM could be doing to equip and help local churches with their outreach work.

“One thing we have been thinking about is that a lot of people in Malaysia have domestic help. Elderly people will go to church and their maids or helpers will come with them.

“We would love to see whether we could start a separate group, maybe using the Universal Edition of CE, for the helpers while the people they care for are in the main church service. They are waiting anyway, so why not reach out to them as well?”

Sue Yee adds, "We’re really excited to visit a few cities to connect and network with friends and churches currently using CEM resources. We’ve been so encouraged by the amount of energy coming from East Asia as we continue to hear about the enthusiasm of local gospel workers."

We will be in East Asia from 28 October - 12 November 2019 with stops in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

We'd love to see you while we're there. Below you'll see the dates for our Malaysian Christianity Explored training conferences:

Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to know more about the trip

This year there is a unique opportunity to help support our ongoing partnerships with countries like Malaysia.

With To the Ends of the Earth, every pound donated as a new or increased regular (eg monthly) gift will be matched by some generous friends and given to our international work.

Help us to help people love, live and tell the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth.

Every £1 you donate enables one person to hear the gospel through our ministry.

  • £10 per month - the total matched amount of £150 (including Gift Aid) helps train 15 pastors to share the gospel in East Africa.
  • £20 per month - the total matched amount of £300 (including Gift Aid) provides eight East Asian churches with local language resources.
  • £50 per month - the total matched amount of £750 (including Gift Aid) could sponsor 15 rural Albanian churches to run Christianity Explored.
  • £100 per month - the total matched amount of £1,500 (including Gift Aid) helps us provide start-up funds for new translations.
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