RUF Spring Break Mission Trip: Malaysia
Emily Harper, RUF student at Colorado State University | April 02, 2019
I am a first year studying social work and Spanish and a part of our RUF at Colorado State University. I recently went on a spring break trip to Malaysia with our campus minister, Mike Wenzler, and 7 other people from RUF. During our 6-day stay we met with various members of MTW’s Asian Crescent team, which is centered in Malaysia. The focus of our time was spent running an English camp at a local school for refugees ranging in age from 7-13. We also enjoyed spending time with local college students and were able to join them for their weekly large-group meeting. Some other highlights of the trip included worshipping at the local church, going to a girl’s bible study led by missionaries, and participating in a Christian/Muslim debate led by an Iranian. The Iranian man grew up in a devout Muslim home and converted to Christianity after reading a portion of the Sermon on the Mount in a local newspaper. His testimony combined with this experience was truly powerful. We also visited a local mosque and had the privilege of eating dinner in a Rohingya home.
During our meetings with the MTW team we learned about how the missionaries work with local pastors and the local national church to plant churches. They addressed the diverse religious backgrounds of Malaysia, including Malay Muslims, Chinese Buddhists, and Indian Hindus. They even described the legal risk associated with Malay who convert to Christianity. Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world, if not the only, where a person’s race determines their religion. We were able to ask an MTW pastor about Islam and how it manifests itself in Malaysian culture, specifically related to gender equality. Another member of the MTW team who has his master’s degree in the Rohingya people (Rohingya are refugees from Myanmar who have virtually no human rights) gave us a history lesson on how the Rohingya became the most persecuted minority in the world.
Every afternoon we went to a local school where all the students were Muslim. We taught children ages 7-12 English through reading, art projects, music, and ultimate frisbee. Some of the children in attendance were orphans and others were Rohingya refugees. Rohingya can’t legally attend public school in Malaysia because they are not Malay. While we were not able to share the Gospel, we were able to show the students love and help teach them language skills that will increase their chance of getting a good job after they graduate high school.
The last part of our visit was spent with local college students who attend various universities. Together we went to the beach, shared dinners, studied scripture, and attended their version of RUF large group. God showed me the importance of Christian community by connecting me with other believers who live halfway across the world and share the same beliefs. These were my brothers and sisters in Christ who walked alongside us, encouraged us, and prayed for us. The members of my team and I were all blessed spiritually by the sweetness of having Christian community all around the world. In the girl’s bible study each of us went around and shared a prayer request. I was struck by how Christians on literally the other side of the planet share the same struggle; it’s hard to depend solely on God and trust His plan for our lives. I was also reminded of my calling to be bold in my faith and in the Gospel. During a meeting with a local pastor we talked about how loving other people doesn’t mean setting aside your own beliefs and convictions. It does, however, involve entering in to the lives of our neighbors and friends. God reminded me of the tension that exists between living in the City of God and being sanctified to be more like Jesus while also living in the City of the world.
Lastly, I was humbled by the debate with local Muslims. I quickly realized, like many of the Malay Muslims who were unsure of what the Quran says, I also do an inadequate job of sharing with people the beauty of the Gospel and explaining key doctrines such as the Trinity. I observed the fear that Muslims live in, if they believe what the Quran says about final judgment. And now I am increasingly aware and thankful for God’s love and grace. It is only through Jesus’s death on the cross that I approach a just God who punishes sin without fear. Please join me in praying that God advances his kingdom in Southeast Asia and reaches the hearts of many Muslims.