, life as a Christian can look different depending on your background and surrounding culture. Ethnic Malays are defined as Muslims by the constitution, and conversion to another faith can result in tremendous pressure. Anyone in Malaysia who converts form Islam will likely face hostility from their community and demands to return to Islam.
But for other groups who are not majority Muslim, the situation may look different.
Wafa* comes from one of these groups—an indigenous community that primarily practices ancestor worship, paganism and, occasionally, black magic. She’s 22 years old and was born into a Christian family. Even with this heritage of faith, the influence of the community was so strong that she began to explore these practices.
Wafa’s pastor had seen a few of young people like Wafa begin to move away from church—and he was worried. He knew that in order to build a strong church, people need a strong foundation in the Bible, and he suspected a lack of biblical knowledge was the problem with some of the younger believers. He contacted some Open Doors local partners who were more than willing to help him with a Bible engagement seminar for the church.
The Bible program is designed to give believers the tools to study the Bible on their own. Starting with an overview of each book, its genre and its context, the seminar helps Christians dive deeper into the Scripture and learn to study it.
And the seminar completely changed Wafa’s life.
“Before taking part in the Bible program and studying the Word of God, when I was ill, I used to seek witches for healing,” she says. “After awareness and comprehension of the Word, I realized that Jesus is my Healer, and I don’t need to visit places where people go to seek healing from the spirits of the dark world.”
But the Bible program didn’t just help her see Jesus as her true Healer and Savior. It also helped her understand God’s calling.
“I discovered that I love to serve people, and this is what I’m called to,” Wafa explains. “I’ve been serving in the worship ministry and helping with the youth service, as well.
“I genuinely believe that I’m called to serve Him in any area that God wants me to be,” she continues. “I have committed my life to serving Him to the best of my abilities, which He has given me.”
Our local partners witnessed Wafa’s growth. “We have seen her grow and progress in her faith,” says one local church partner. “Her passion for serving people is evident.”
According to local partners, many indigenous people groups in this part of Malaysia experience discrimination and have been pushed into timidity. They often avoid speaking up about their rights and the government has persecuted them, harassing them and accusing them of not having proper legal rights to their land, even though that village has been there for many generations.
Wafa’s pastor noted that in having this Bible engagement program, the members of his congregation have become bold in their faith. “Most adults in this church have a small knowledge on the Bible and how to read it, but praise God that the younger generation is focused on developing their knowledge,” said a local partner who helped with the engagement program.
Wafa is proof of this. “I would’ve continued with my former habit of going to the ancestorial worshipers for healing and other things if I wasn’t pushed to join this Bible program,” she says.
Through this seminar, 2 Timothy 1:7 has come to life for this rural church: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
Praise God for Wafa’s testimony, and pray with your brothers and sisters in Malaysia:
- Pray for the indigenous youth groups in Malaysia, that more will have the desire to serve their community.
- Pray for Wafa, that God will guide her deeper into the Word and impart wisdom so that she can lead.
- Pray for Wafa’s plans to serve full-time in ministry. Pray for all her needs, that God will provide at the right time.