Pray for the less evangelized. The Malaysian Church has the resources and cultural knowledge to reach them, but it also needs the courage and commitment. The Malays are one of the world’s largest unreached groups. Some now worship in house groups and multi-ethnic churches, but no public congregation of ethnic Malays exists. The Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia (PM) are original inhabitants of the Malaysian peninsula. The Malay-dominated government considers them Muslim, but most practise animism. 8 of the 19 groups have no churches or believers.
Peninsular Malaysia: The Church is small, but growing. Only 3% of Peninsular Malaysia (PM) is Christian. PM has 80% of Malaysia's population but only 25% of its Christians. Christianity, however, is growing among all non-Muslim ethnic groups; about 10% of the Orang Asli, 10% of Chinese and 8% of Indians are Christian. Still, the continual external pressures from Islam at every level and from non-Christian families undermine progress. Pray for continued church growth, but also for a deep work of the Holy Spirit in preserving, building up and emboldening believers to thrive amid the pressure.
Peninsular Malaysia: The relentless pressure from Islamist circles has manifested in court decisions related to religion, apostasy and conversion. Decisions reflect fear by the judiciary and weakening of the civil courts' constitutional power. Pray that the government might uphold the religious rights of all citizens. Pray also for the thwarting of radical Islamist elements seeking to oppress all other expressions of religion.
Peninsular Malaysia: Church practices must adapt to changing realities. Cell groups are thriving, especially among the Bumiputeras (both Malay and non-Malay). Using Bahasa Malaysia in church services can also introduce complications because of certain laws. The lure of materialism and worldly lifestyles tempts many young urban Christians of all ethnic groups; meanwhile, traditional congregations are increasingly aged. Effective discipleship and community must be developed. Pray for wisdom for church leaders and for renewal that sees churches full and relevant.
Sabah: Government, on both the state and federal levels, has enriched itself while overseeing the nation's poorest state (26% are below the poverty line). The rich natural resources are plundered, but locals have not benefitted. Racial discrimination, exploitation of immigrants, corruption and higher levels of crime (including drug trafficking and piracy) blight this beautiful region. Pray for leadership that is honest, impartial, just and committed to stewarding the environment and governing the people with wisdom and righteousness.
Sabah: Rapid church growth is taking place among the Chinese, Kadazan-Dusun, Tagal and Murut peoples through the work of the Basel Mission, Anglicans and SIB. The SIB has over 500 congregations in Sabah. The charismatic movement deeply affects nearly every denomination. Over one-third of Chinese and the majority of indigenous peoples are now Christian. Nominalism, the drift to the cities of tribal peoples and a serious lack of full-time workers are unresolved problems for churches. Pray for greater unity and cooperation, social engagement and evangelism, and pray against apathy and undue influence from political interests. The Sabah Council of Churches seeks to serve and catalyze the church on all these issues. The great difficulty for expatriate mission and ministry makes it necessary for local Christians to evangelize the unreached in Sabah, if this work is to be done.
Sarawak enjoys spiritual blessing with 70 years of God moving. The SIB has nearly 300 congregations, over five Bible schools, a work among over 10 peoples - many unreached - and vigorous outreach to rural areas. The SIB focuses on the north, the Anglicans the south, and the Methodists the centre with over 600 preaching points among the Iban and work among urban Chinese Malaysians. The majority of Iban are Christians and nearly half the Chinese now profess Christianity, though a significant number are more nominal in their faith.
Sarawak: Poverty, neglect and exploitation explain the wide disparity between the haves and have nots. The tribal peoples comprise almost all of the indigenous poor, especially in the remote rural areas. They have been failed by a rapacious and discriminatory government, self-serving local officials and even by unmoved churches. They enjoy very few opportunities for improvement in education, employment or healthcare. Pray for good governance on both the state and grassroots levels; pray also for Christians to become more mobilized to assist their disadvantaged brethren and to reach out in love to those more needy than themselves.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.