Malaysia is highly multicultural and has three major ethnicities – Malay, Chinese and native tribes. Most Christians are from the tribal and Chinese people groups, while Malay people are mostly Muslim.
Christianity is not illegal but it is illegal for Malays to convert to Christianity and for Christians to evangelise. Christian converts who are caught are confined to ‘re-education camps’ that use brainwashing techniques, torture and propaganda to force them to return to Islam. They are often bribed with cash or false promises to build homes or give them status or jobs. Women are among the most persecuted and will often be threatened with rape or forced marriage.
Christian converts also face persecution from their own Muslim families and communities. Even in the courts, Muslims will be favoured when it comes to legal matters, especially divorce and child custody. Often, marriages between Malays and Christians aren’t recognised legally making it problematic for daily life in Malaysia.
It is illegal for Malay people to have a Bible, and Bibles are largely unavailable outside Christian majority areas. Most Malay believers meet in underground churches as worshipping elsewhere can cause problems for their church. Those who do meet in other churches will often keep their ethnicity a secret.
Despite this, many pastors and ministers continue to evangelise and set up cell groups in different villages. These pastors often travel long distances from house to house to visit the groups. The biggest needs for these pastors are provisions for the villages they go to as many of them are in poverty, and they also require safe transportation. In particular, they need motorbikes for long journeys or 4WDs to transport provisions and even transport those who may be sick to doctors or hospitals.
Projects in Malaysia
In 2018, Voice of the Martyrs Australia focused on providing training for pastors and young leaders in Malaysia.
The training being currently provided is to equip young leaders and pastors for ministry, prepare them for the likely persecution they will face and also train them to evangelise Muslims.
Supporting young people was also a focus last year. One project in particular was a youth camp for Christians and unbelievers alike. The two-day camp was to build the faith of believers but also to evangelise those who don’t yet know Christ. Some youth travelled up to ten hours to attend the camp and many came away with a deeper faith.
During the camp, teams went out to evangelise and also pray for people in local hospitals with great success.
To reach out to children in Malaysia, VOM is supporting the Hope & Love School, a project specifically designed to support stateless children through education.
The funding provides 122 children of both Christian and Muslim backgrounds the opportunity to receive a Christian education. Being stateless means they may be otherwise unable to receive an education, while it also offers teachers the opportunity to teach about the love of God to all of the children who attend.
This year, one of the main projects VOM is supporting within Malaysia is a safe house. This safe house will provide Muslim background believers fleeing persecution with a place where they receive love, care, accommodation and discipleship training.
Subscribe to our monthly print or e-newsletter at vom.com.au/subscribe
If you would like to financially support our Front Line Ministry fund please go to vom.com.au/donate.