Updates on the Holy Work in Malaysia
After reminiscing about the divine grace that established and abided with the True Jesus Church (TJC) over the last century, there is still much to do in the years ahead. There are currently just 28 Churches, 4 Prayer Houses, 8 Evangelical Centers and 5 Pioneer Areas (indigenous people districts) in the 4 regions (North, Perak, Central, South) of Peninsula Malaysia. West Malaysia’s membership stands at 3539, the growth rate of 4.3% seen this year is driven by conversion (2.6%) and migration (1.7%). Though the gospel has been preached in this peninsula since 1926, the outreach journey has not been easy.
The current 10 (1 was just ordained in Nov 2018) full-time preachers pastor an average of 2-3 churches per person, besides assisting in overseas assignments. Through the National Reserves Volunteer program, inter-church and inter-region arrangements, manpower resources (brothers and deacons) are channeled to smaller churches (when their residential preachers are on overseas assignments) and regions requiring assistance.
Outreach to Indigenous People
In recent years, work in the Perak region has been largely focused on evangelism. One such area is the Cameron Highlands, a district comprising sub-districts located at elevations ranging from 800 to 1,603 metres above sea level. This district is home to the indigenous Semai tribe. The first phase of work led to the establishment of West Malaysia’s first church for the indigenous people. In 2017, the General Assembly (GA) bought a two-storey apartment in Cameron Highlands to house volunteers and workers sent to assist in the work of outreach to the indigenous people, in addition to conducting services and evangelical programs for the indigenous people. In December of the same year, Malaysia’s Education Affairs division started the first Native Counselling program to improve the academic standards, living skills and bible knowledge of the indigenous children. Volunteers were specially roped in to design learning modules. In November 2018, the first indigenous brother was ordained as a deacon. In December 2018, a second indigenous people church in Pengkalan Hulu, a Malaysian town located near the Malaysia-Thailand border, will be dedicated to the Lord. To further drive this outreach work in the indigenous people districts, Malaysia has requested TJC Indonesia’s assistance in sending over preachers.
Future Challenges and Work
Malaysia is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. Unsurprisingly, pastoral needs among our Chinese, Indian, and Malay-speaking indigenous (both inter-state migrants from Sabah as well as locals) members are highly diverse. Nevertheless, by God’s grace, TJCs of Taiwan, Sabah and India have been extremely supportive in sending workers to help in pastoral and training work in West Malaysia.
Marriage in the Lord continues to be a challenge. On the one hand, we need to continue to emphasize the importance of this as we are seeing an increasing number of members’ preferences of non-believer over believers. There are also believers who are ready to marry in the Lord but cannot find a suitable partner. This challenge is intensified for our believers from some smaller ethnic groups. Within these smaller sub-populations of indigenous and Indian believers it is a challenge to find potential spouses who is not a blood relative. Believers from the bigger ethnic group are not ready to accept such inter-racial unions. Nevertheless, good marriages are critical as they underpin strong family units which, in turn, determine the health of the Church. GA West Malaysia has identified a group of Marriage Facilitators to care for those who are of marriageable age and is separately training another group of Marriage Counsellors to help married couples strengthen their relationships, as we are aware of worrying issues in their marriages.
Consistent with the worldwide TJC focus on feeding the flock appropriately, GA West Malaysia has now started up its Little Wheat bookshop to bring useful publications to believers. It is also trying to improve pulpit ministry through strategies such as mentoring of potential sermon speakers, training up more female workers to care for the needs of the sisters and children, and so on.
Praise & thank God, Malaysia General Assembly has currently 1 Chinese-speaking brother in Taiwan Seminary and 1 Malay-speaking brother in Sabah Seminary.
1. Family of Pr. Nehemiah Ooi in his Ordination
2. Ordination of Dn. Petrus Man in Ipoh Church
3. Tapah Batu 8 Church at the foot of Cameron Highlands