Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Open Source Mission - Translating Gospel Materials

There is a new ministry initiative launching publicly this week called Open Source Mission (OSM). OSM is a non-profit initiative to enable translation of contemporary evangelical materials from English to various languages through the power of mass collaboration. Some of us who frequent this blog have been working on this in various ways over the past few months so we're excited that it's now unveiled and launched.

OSM is founded on the belief that accessibility to biblically sound content is of strategic importance to the vitality of the growing churches worldwide. In particular, we see an opportunity to bring translated Christian materials to the non-English speaking world by taking advantage of technology innovation and an “open source”, participatory model of translation. Our vision is to create a new, revolutionary, framework for translation by combining the following components:

• Global social network of volunteer translators
• Proven “open source” methodology
• Web 2.0 collaboration platform

In essence, what we hope to see are several ongoing translation projects fueled by the passion and skills of volunteer translators, resulting in an online reference portal of translated books and articles in a multitude of languages – all available for free.

The distinctive focus of OSM is simple -

Mass Collaboration - We want to enable translation through the mass collaboration of volunteer translators. We believe the Web 2.0 world has opened unique opportunities for collaboration through a community participatory model. Such models have been proven successful in other arenas. By applying methodologies similar to those used in an open source software projects like Linux or Web 2.0 projects like Wikipedia, we hope to effectively tackle the translation challenge.

Contemporary Gospel Centric Writings - We want to focus on contemporary, evangelical, gospel centric materials. We’re not interested in doing Bible translations – that’s best left to professionals. Nor are we planning to tackle historical writings (i.e. Puritans, Reformers, early Church Fathers) - there are sufficient hurdles in bridging the translation and cultural gap without undertaking the challenge of a historical gap as well. We're initially focused on contemporary translations from our partner organizations.

Leveraging Technology - We want to leverage technology to make these materials accessible. We believe that the trajectory of technology adoption in the developing nations means that the most effective and inexpensive way to get materials to our fellow Christians in these nations is to provide this material on the web, searchable, cross referenceable and free.

OSM, together with partners like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Desiring God, 9 Marks and other like-minded organizations, will work on the Gospel Translation Project. The Gospel Translation Project involves building a "wikipedia type" portal of translated content at (Disclaimer: the portal is currently in beta and content is still being loaded onto the site.)

Initially, our focus will be to work on translating materials from the aforementioned partners who have generously contributed to our translation permissions library.

If you find this intriguing, interesting, or possibly even inspiring, here’s how to get involved:

1. Check out the OSM website , learn more about what we do , offer feedback and please pray for the ministry.

2. If you are bilingual, please consider using your language skills in one of our projects. You can sign up on the OSM website or email our Ministry Coordinator, Andrew Mahr - By participating in one of our projects, your contribution will impact your fellow Christians for years to come.

3. Please help spread the word. If you're a blogger, please consider blogging about OSM and the Gospel Translation Project. This is a grassroots movement and thrives on individual volunteer initiative. If you should blog on this, please let others know of the need for translation and issue a gracious call for bilingual Christians to consider participating in this.

4. Link to Open Source Mission on your sidebar and let us know. We need help to make this work and we'd love to have you get involved in some way...even if you can't translate.

We have a number of willing translators in Malaysia and Indonesia but we would be glad to get more help. There are translation projects starting up in a number of languages including Bahasa, Chinese, Korean and Spanish. If you can speak any of these languages, please consider lending your help.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Am For The N.E.P.

by Tan Kong Beng ("Saya Sokong DEB" terjemahan Keropok Lekor)

Next year it would a quarter century since I came before an interview panel consisting of the then Acting IGP, the Deputy IGP and several other Commissioners of Police who only had one question for me. They asked me for my views on the New Economic Policy. The policy had been running since 1971 with the expressed intention to eradicate poverty among the poor in Malaysian society.

I was forthright with my opinions on the policy. I declared then that I supported the policy in its stated objectives but thought that the implementation of it was something to be desired.

I gave them some examples of the wrong implementation of the policy courtesy of my
poli-sci and development profs at USM. After that we spent a couple of minutes on other mundane things of life and before I knew it the interview was ended. A couple of weeks later I was called for a positive-vetting interview and then later I received a letter asking me to report to Pulapol (Pusat Latihan Polis) for service in the Polis DiRaja Malaysia.

In the aftermath of the 1969 KL race riots, the government of the day promulgated the New Economic Policy – NEP – with the double-prong aim of “poverty eradication regardless of race” and “restructuring society to eliminate the identification of race with economic function”. The framers of the policy thought to create the conditions for national unity by reducing resentments among the ethnic communities due to socioeconomic disparities.

The NEP policy is associated with the First Outline Perspective Plan (OPP) for 1971–1990 and its target was to reduce poverty from 49% in Peninsular Malaysia in 1970 to 16% in 1990. The actual poverty rate in the peninsula in 1990 was 17% however the national rate was slightly higher. Through the NEP we have done well. But more can still be done.

I think the NEP has served the nation well in its stated doubled-pronged aim but what we have seen in practice is that it has been implemented with the tendency to favour one community over other communities as if only one community is poor and is in need of help.

Of late, there have been voices raised to get rid of the policy. But I disgree with such opinions. I still believe that the NEP in its truest aspiration was for poor Malaysians. It was to give them a leg-up so that they can be a success and to enter into the mainstream of society if we provided them with the financial resources and opportunities to do so.

Perhaps I am influenced by my own limited experience. I have experienced the negative side of the NEP but I have also seen its positive work. In one year that I was able to stay in campus, my room-mate was from Kedah and his father was a poor padi farmer who would not have otherwise been able to support his son’s tertiary ambitions if not for the NEP.

Then much later in the late 1980s, I was privileged to work with Orang Asli people and I saw that the NEP was not reaching such communities. If it was not reaching the Orang Asli people in the late 1980s then it was probably not reaching the majority of the other poor Malaysians in our urban towns and cities and across the seas to our brethren in Sabah and Sarawak.

I do believe that we should continue to support the twin aims of the NEP and work on better implementation plans so that those who are poor can be helped and that our society truly can be re-structured so that no ethnic group controls sectors of our economy but all communities contributing to the welfare and well-being of all Malaysians.

Happy 50th Merdeka for all of us celebrating the formation of the Federation of Malaya and Happy Malaysia Day on September 16th when we celebrate the 44th anniversary of the formation of the Federation of Malaysia with our friends in Sabah and Sarawak.

Kong Beng is a church Elder and fulltime worker with a church in Subang Jaya. He is also a director of OHMSI.

The Historical Reliability of the Old Testament

By Dr Leong Tien Fock, B.E. (Hons) in Civil Engineering from the University of Malaya, M.A. in Old Testament Studies from Wheaton College, M.A. and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from University of California, Los Angeles.

The Bible has been subjected to an incredibly extensive and intensive scrutiny by critics. Yet, unless one only reads the critics' work, it has not only survived the trial but has in fact thrived in it. Christians should be familiar with a defense of the Bible even in the absence of an offense. For the intellectual and spiritual climate we live in is such that the claims of the Bible do not seem or feel real. We need to be able to consciously affirm in our heart that the Bible is reliable and trustworthy.

The reliability of the Bible is fundamental to the credibility of the Christian faith. All Christian doctrines, including the doctrine of the Bible as the Word of God, are based on the Bible. Given the often vicious and seemingly credible attacks on the Bible, a Christian who is confronted with them may find his faith shaken or even shattered. This essay is written with the conviction that it is possible for anyone who is not already prejudiced against the Bible (or who is at least willing to temporarily suspend such a bias) to see that there is a remarkably solid basis to believe in the reliability of the Bible.

We will focus only on the Old Testament and use three criteria to establish the its reliability: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test. These common-sense tests, often used to test the reliability of the New Testament, cannot be said to be biased towards the Bible. For they are postulated by military historian C. Sanders in his 1952 book, Introduction to Research in English Literary History. The tests are most suitable for our purpose not only because they are not biased towards the Bible. Since they are employed in testing the reliability of general historical and literary documents, they are also most suitable because we are testing the reliability of the OT as a literary-historical and not as a religious document (thus its claim to divine origin will not be assumed).

Read on for more information on:

Bibliographical Test
Internal Evidence Test
External Evidence Test
Concluding Remarks

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mind The Sun-Mon Gap (I)

Courtesy of Graduate Christian Fellowship, we had Dr Gordon Preece to share with us on Minding The Gap between sacred/secular, Sun-Mon. He made an interesting observation that in the epic of Gilgamesh, men were created to be slaves for the gods, for hard manual labor in their service. Leisure was the right and privilege of the god-kings i.e. Egypt, Parthenon.

How radically different and subversive was the Genesis account of creation, where God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day, and when He rested, humanity rested too. The pattern of rest and work in the Sabbath is applied to all, regardless of social class.

Lausanne paper on Marketplace Ministry:

"The loss of the creation commission/mandate has detrimental effects on Christians
who are not directly engaged with people-type or evangelistic work, who work with
technology, material things or are engaged in wealth creation. These Christians often feel like second-class believers who have to pretend to be social workers at work. A chemical engineer when asked about his faith and work at an InterVarsity Graduates Fellowship meeting, described it in terms of the people-side of serving clients as if he were a social worker, but failed to mention that he had developed a less pollutant pesticide that fulfils the creation commission.

In contrast, Crawford W. Long, M.D., who discovered the use of sulphuric ether
as an anaesthetic in surgery on March 30, 1840 and whose statue stands in the US Senate building in the state of Georgia, was attributed with these words, ‘My profession is to me a ministry from God.’ Consider also Professor Graeme Clark, the Australian developer of the bionic ear who has brought hearing to over 50,000 people worldwide. His scientific passion for the creation/dominion mandate and for alleviating the suffering of hearing-impaired humanity (including his father) combined with his front-page and televised witness to Christ, represents a very balanced and inspiring expression of all three mandates." (i.e. creational, relational, evangelistic commissions)

Taming Of The Pew (II)

Gordon Preece on the Sun-Mon Gap:

Over 70 years ago, G.A. Studdert Kennedy asserted that:

"A very large number of the people who attend our services and partake of the sacrament are disassociated personalities. They are one person on Sunday and another on Monday. They have one mind for the sanctuary and another for the street. They have one conscience for the church and another for the cotton factory. Their worship conflicts with their work, but they will not acknowledge the conflict. I want to press home what seems to me to be obvious, that while this unfaced conflict
exists, the soul is not on the road to salvation."

Likewise, a contemporary ditty says: ‘Mr Business went to church, that’s what he did on Sunday, Mr Business went to hell for what he did on Monday’. We could say the same of other professions.

In their defence, many marketplace Christians, including increasing numbers of paid
working women, feel justifiably marginalised from their churches. Thousands make up the rapidly increasing legion of unchurched Christians in the West.16 Their workaday concerns are often banished from the pulpit and public worship, prayer and pastoral care. In one survey, 90-97% said they had never heard a sermon on work.17 One Christian in Singapore who suggested a commissioning service on Teachers Day was told by his pastor that it was a great idea for Sunday School teachers.

Read on for this insightful paper by Lausanne

Bridging The Sun-Mon Gap (III)

Excerpts from Lausanne paper on Marketplace Ministry:

"In Scripture there is no ancient or modern, eastern or western dualistically derived gap between private and public, faith and work, charity and justice. There we have many images of God as a worker (Genesis 1-2, John 5:17, Revelation 21:5), specifically as shepherd (Psalm 23), warrior (Exodus 15:3), teacher (Psalm 143:10, Proverbs 15:33), potter (Jeremiah 18:6, Romans 9:20-21) and as vinedresser (Isaiah 5:1-7, John 15:1-6).50 We also find that marketplace Christians such as Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Nehemiah, Lydia, Priscilla and Aquila are very prominent among God’s

Against an individualistic reading of Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, John
Howard Yoder’s The Politics of Jesus 51 depicts the people of God as a city (polis) set on a hill as the light of the world, who are to let their light shine so that others can see their good work(s) and give God the glory (Matthew 5:16)...

Because God is a Worker - Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier - we need to re-link the
creation and evangelistic commissions or mandates. The creation commission’s go forth and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28 to Adam, cf. Genesis 9:7 to Noah, Genesis 12:1-3 to Abram) is behind the Great Commission’s ‘go’ into the world or as you go about your daily work and life (Matthew 28:18-20 cf. Matthew 10:7) as Leighton Ford stresses. When Jesus says ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,’ He claims dominion over all creation as the true and ultimate human activity.

As former Dutch Prime Minister, theologian and journalist Abraham Kuyper says: ‘There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus
Christ does not cry out, “This is mine! This belongs to me!’”

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Young Disciples of Jesus

A student ministry Young Disciples Of Jesus Malaysia has just been launched this month for the purpose of

1. World evangelism (Evangelia)
2. Teaching the Gospel to His people (Kerigma)
3. Establish the channel to having fellowship in the Lord (Koinonia)
4. Serve and give to the needy (Diakonia)

Young Disciples of Jesus was first established in China and was founded for the purpose of spreading the Gospel to revive the spirit of Christianity and to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the unreached across the world.


The symbol for the Young Disciples of Jesus is a shield in the background. The front of the shield was formed with the cross, olive leaf, dove, fire, and the Bible. The symbols mean through the emptying of our Lord Jesus Christ, who redeemed us by His sacrifice on the cross, to the ones who placed their faith in Him were pronounced righteous. We have inherited the same faith, with the Gospel that is revealed through the Holy Scriptures and led by the Spirit of Truth as the core doctrine, are given the command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and becoming the witness to His cross and resurrection.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How Was Jesus 'Political'?

OHMSI Inaugural Dialogue:
“Was Jesus Political?” A New Testament Perspective
By Dr Lim Kar Yong
Lecturer in New Testament Studies
Seminari Theoloji Malaysia

I recall reading an influential evangelical pastor affirming that the church should not engage in political action. For this pastor, the mission, energy and investment of the church is not to clean up the evils of society but to evangelise society. Unfortunately, this also characterises the position of the majority in our own shores. It is unfortunate that when the studies of Jesus are carried out within the confessional setting in the church, it is often accomplished though our theological framework. “Standard” understanding of Jesus is that he is the Son of God who died on the cross for the salvation of humanity. It is also often assumed that the Gospels and other scriptural writings are solely religious in nature. While this theological approach to the study of Jesus is no doubt true to our orthodox confession, this approach regrettably presents a one-sided perspective of Jesus – one that I am tempted to describe as a domestication of a “spiritual Jesus.” It is a Jesus that is, in the words of Scot McKnight, “described exclusively…in the category of a spiritual master, (and) as one who was primarily concerned with the inner religious life and its disciplines for the individual.”

This morning, I hope to reconsider our understanding of Jesus. Drawing from the contribution of the Historical Jesus research and the recent rise in the interest of social-scientific approach to the New Testament, we hope to reflect on this question, “Was Jesus political?” Or, in other words, is there a place in our faith for a “political” Jesus instead of merely a “spiritual” Jesus?

Before we proceed, perhaps it is good to clarify what I mean by the term, “politics.” In antiquity, according to Aristotle, politics is understood in the broad sense in which the objective is to realise the idea of a good life of a community within a city. On the other hand, politics can also be understood in the narrow sense as an art of gaining and maintaining power. I prefer to engage my reflection on the political Jesus in the broad sense. I use political to mean relating to public, state, or civil affairs. As such by “political” I do not mean that Jesus was thinking in terms of forming political parties or launching a revolt against Rome or Jerusalem. By “political” I propose to reconsider the historical Jesus as someone who has a mission to the nation of Israel in calling her to repentance in light of the coming judgment of God.

So the two questions I would like to consider are:

1) How much awareness does Jesus exhibit in his self-understanding of his mission to Israel as being political?

2) How would the multitudes perceive Jesus to be political through his teachings and activities?

More Updates:
Johnny Ong
Jack Said
Lim Kar Yong, Part II and Part III
A New Kind Of Urban Christians - a wonderful conversation with Jay and Gary Watanabe from Redeemer
Keropok Lekor

Monday, September 10, 2007

OHMSI Launch

OHMSI was set up in 2004 with the goal to create frameworks for dialogue and engagement where followers of Jesus Christ and members of society become relevant and significant in the public spaces of national life.

But, is the Bride of Christ in Malaysia ready for this task of public space engagement? Can Christians be political without getting involved in party politics? What is the role of Christians on public issues and the related public policy dialogue? Are we an Islamic State? Can we evolve a Bangsa Malaysia? Who will fight corruption and for integrity? Whose responsibility is it to ensure the application of universal valuesIn the light of many challenges facing Malaysia, what is our role as Christians in Malaysia to continue to be the salt and light of the Gospel on these issues and concerns?

Register here today! Discover the historical Jesus, who is not only concerned about 'spiritual' issues (Roh) but also earthly issues (Dunia).

Suatu ketika C.S.Lewis mengatakan, "Jika anda membaca sejarah, anda akan menemukan bahwa orang-orang Kristen yang banyak berbuat untuk kehidupan di dunia ini adalah mereka yang sedar sepenuhnya akan kehidupan di dunia yang akan datang."

Is Beauty Self Evident?

Several months ago, the Washington Post conducted a fascinating social experiment - it's a long article but worth reading. They commissioned Joshua Bell, a renown violinist to play some of the finest classical music ever composed on a Stradivarius, right in the middle of a Washington DC metro train station...during rush hour.

The idea was to find out if the essence of beauty is self evident, and whether it would transcend the busyness of the rush hour commute. Would people be so moved by the music, so as to pause the hustle and bustle of the morning, to recognize or perhaps even appreciate its evident beauty?

Well, the results aren't pretty. As Joshua Bell played for 43 minutes, a total of 1,097 people passed by. Only seven stopped to listen. Here's the excerpt from the article that really got my attention -

The people scurry by in comical little hops and starts, cups of coffee in their hands, cellphones at their ears, ID tags slapping at their bellies, a grim danse macabre to indifference, inertia and the dingy, gray rush of modernity.

Even at this accelerated pace, though, the fiddler's movements remain fluid and graceful; he seems so apart from his audience -- unseen, unheard, otherworldly -- that you find yourself thinking that he's not really there. A ghost.

Only then do you see it: He is the one who is real. They are the ghosts.

Knowing myself, I probably wouldn't have been found among the seven but it did give me pause to think -

Is real beauty self evident and self authenticating?
Why can't we recognize it?
What does that say about us?
What is real beauty?

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

What do you think? Is beauty self evident? What is the basis of true beauty?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Racing Rats, Moving Cheese

Given the huge amount of waking hours we spent at work, it seems rather strange that “secular work” occupies such a vague place amongst Christians. A graphic designer friend of mine was once told by well-meaning folks in church that he should not be involved in three types of jobs: an artist (due to widespread worldly temptation), a politician (because it’s ‘dirty’) or a lawyer (to avoid the lure of wealth).

Sometimes it seems like there is a caste system of spiritual work with missionaries and pastors at the top, followed by people-helping professionals (like doctors, teachers, nurses) and, in descending order, “barely-religious” jobs (such as lawyers, politicians and jazz musicians) close to the bottom! Although my friend enjoys doing creative special effects for movies, he can’t shake off the guilt that it is something unspiritual, if not explicitly sinful. He inhabits two separate “worlds”, shifting from an ordinary life as an “artist” on weekdays to a religious life as a Christian on Sundays. He aptly described his incongruent existence as being “schizophrenic” or “split personality”. If we are not a “full time worker” in church, does that make us only “part-time” Christians?

Even if the example is a bit dramatic, we often talk about work being valuable only as a platform that opens up opportunities to share the gospel. Indeed witness should take place naturally in the context of relationships in offices, factories and cafeteria. However, our labor itself has intrinsic God-honoring significance and dignity. It is not just a material necessity to put food on the table.

At the very beginning, God Himself rolled up His sleeves and worked creatively to get the universe up and running. (Genesis 1:1) Then He graciously gave Adam and Eve their first job description as His partners in eco-management - ruling, caring and stewarding the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). As Marvin Wrong wrote, “Without a human cultivator, every field and garden degenerates into wilderness. In other words, it’s only Eden if you have a gardener. Without one, what you have is the Amazon”. Work itself is designed as part of God’s good gift of creation, not a curse.

But due to sin, work is not always fulfilling or rewarding (Genesis 3:18). It is often characterized by abuses like overwork, shirk, bribery, office politics and exploitation of others. In this fallen world, we often struggle to maintain our ethical convictions and personal integrity in the face of evil. Yet when Christ came to redeem us from sin, He did not abandon the creation for otherworldly pursuits. His kingdom extends not only to a private corner called ‘religion’ but to every facet of public life as well. Instead, we will have resurrected bodies in the new heaven and new earth where everything is more real than before. We won’t “lepak” around playing harps in floating clouds, but would enjoy sanctified work as meaningful expression of who God made us to be. Therefore, as His followers, the rhythm of work and rest in our lives today ought to give out hints of what that future redeemed world looks like.

Perhaps, we could start with the conviction that all Christians are gifted and called to be “full-time workers” for the Kingdom in the world. That doesn’t mean that all Christians should escape “secular” work to join “sacred” ministry. But it does mean that if you are a software designer, you are an “ordained software designer”. You have been summoned by God to serve Him in that specific sphere of activity. Or, if you are an “ordained lawyer”, you are called to prayerfully explore how your discipline shows signs of rebellion against or submission to Christ’s Lordship. An “ordained environmentalist” ought to read the Scripture not just devotionally, but actively apply the biblical mandate for creation care in his work.

Whatever our vocation, we need to learn to think and live “Christianly” in areas specific to what we are called to do – media, education, politics, business or the arts. In humility and boldness, we should creatively integrate the biblical worldview with our occupations . It is not easy in practice. Ultimately, every single job (even missionaries!) has its unique challenges in the form of temptations, ‘dirty’ politics and/or money. That’s why we are “in but not of the world”. With God’s grace and other Christ-disciples, we could embrace a congruent, integrated and holistic “faith that works” (James 2:22).

Don’t settle for a fragmented existence torn between the secular and sacred “worlds”.

PS: The Agora and OHMSI collaborated on a book study on Christian worldview based on "Total truth: Liberating Christianity From its cultural captivity", which addressed issues of life like a privatized faith and sacred-secular divide. This article was written for Multimedia Uni Christian Fellowship. Much thanks to the Sojourner!

Thursday, September 06, 2007


GospelTranslations, a vision birthed from Cahaya Nusantara network (The 'Eastern' face of The Agora that certain postmodernists would prefer to forget) is now online, translators are welcome to participate in this wiki-powered community project: "Our mission is to make gospel-centered resources accessible for Christians of every nation and language. We are a project of Open Source Mission, in partnership with several Christian publishers, and carried out by a world-wide community of volunteer translators.

Our hope is that by translating these resources into the many languages of global Christianity, and furthermore by distributing them for free online, we will be able to make a contribution toward the future health and growth of the church. To read more about this, check out our Mission Statement.

For other information, you can visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, read about how our process works, or visit the Community Portals to see what's going on in your language." (Be patient with the links, Work in progress...)

Many thanks to the pioneer volunteers - Junia, Yenny, Saudara Jubilie Apin frm Sabah, Godlief, Ronald Oroh, Adi and others! Look forward to the collaboration for the gospel... in Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond.

Volunteers with a grasp of Bahasa Msia, Indonesia or Chinese may contact us at hedonese at yahoo dot com

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


by Tan Kong Beng

Just before we celebrated Merdeka Day we read that a prominent member of the Bar Council and a practicing lawyer was threatened for doing his job as a lawyer. Mr Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who is holding a watching brief over the Lina Joy case on behalf of the Malaysian Bar, has been the target of death threats. He published his personal take on the matter as a comment in "The Compromise One Cannot Make" which was published in the New Sunday Times, 27 August 2006 (pg 23) and also on NST Online.

Below is the unedited version of my Letter to the Editor (NST) which was published on Sept 6 (and edited as was expected):

Dear Editor,

I am aghast to read his personal commentary of a death threat titled "WANTED DEAD" to him. I am very angry that a group in our society can do such a thing to someone who upholds our Federal Constitution and maintains such values and hopes as we cherish in Malaysia.

I find it very difficult to understand what has happened to our society that a section of it engages not in dialogue but with death threats if anyone disgrees with them. I want to say that there is no place for such people in Malaysia because we are governed by a Federal Constitution and we uphold such values as parliamentary democracy, rule of law, free speech, the right of assembly, the right to profess
and to practice one's religious beliefs, etc.

I wonder if this is an organised threat of violence to do harm to someone in our society. And if it is then the ISA should rightly be invoked because it was intended for those who organise violence against Malaysian society as the Communist terrorists did during the early days of our Independence.

If we don't stand up for Mr Malik now one day we may find ourselves on a "Wanted Dead" poster. Who then will speak for us?

As it is a certain group of people can exhibit such intolerance as to publicly and with such venom wish for someone to be murdered. We cannot be silent and allow such a group to dictate these values which is abhorrent to us as Malaysians.

My prayers go with Mr Malik that he does not have to fear for his life. May God surround him with angels and protect his life because he is a good man who defends our Federal Constitution and our values as Malaysians. May God give him strength and fortitude.

No one in Malaysia needs to fear for his life. I have never felt that in our villages, towns and cities. Perhaps I did feel fear during my first jungle patrol duty at the Perak-Kelantan border which by then CT activities were already waning but their booby traps were still there waiting for one of us to step on it.

So it is a shock to him (and to us) that he has received a death threat in modern day Malaysia and he has now publicly spoken about it. I too am shocked and angry. We must each of us look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what we must do so that neither Mr Malik nor others need be fearful for their lives even as celebrate our Hari Kemerdekaan again - the coming together of Malaysia in 1957 and 1963.
This is for the sake of our children and for generations of Malaysians to come as we build a Malaysian society that is outstanding in many ways as our PM has envisioned for us.


"BILA" a wonderful Homemade Song by CDPC Worship Team (here's the rough demo, you should check out the refined, final product)

© 2006 CDPC
Bila... aku seorang diri
Ku pilu di hati
Engkau yang muncul di sisi

Bila... ku tak berdaya lagi
Rempuh hidup ini
Tuhan, Kau yang sedia berkati

Biarpun aku lemah
Kau tetap berkuasa
Kau sayangi diri ini
Kasih tak terhingga

Ku sembahMu Tuhan Yesus
Ku puji namaMu
Kerana tiada yang seperti Mu
Tuhan peganglah hati ini
Di tapak tanganMu
Hidupku hanya untukMu

Bila... ku berasa gementar
Akan masa depan
Tuhan, Kau yang meyakinkan

Bila... mataku hanya sedar
Kan serba halangan
Tuhan, Kau berikan kemenangan

Biarpun ombak melanda
Ku tetap pandang
Kepada Yang Maha Esa
Penyayang jiwa

Ku sembahMu Tuhan Yesus
Ku puji namaMu
Kerana tiada yang sepertiMu
Tuhan penganglah hati ini
Di tapak tanganMu
Hidupku hanya untukMu

When I am alone and sad in my heart, You appear by my side
When I have not the strength to go through this life,
God You are ready to bless
Even though I am weak, You are still strong
You love me with an unending love

I worship You Lord Jesus, I praise Your name, For there is none like You
Dear God, hold my heart in the palm of Your hand... My life is only for You

When I worry about the future, God, You grant me confidence
When my eyes can only see the obstacles, God, grant me victory
Even when the waves crash over me,
I will keep my eyes on The Almighty One, the Lover of my soul

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Caring For The World

This Merdeka weekend, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel to Kuantan with Chor Hon, to share about "Caring For The World" with a lively and bright group of youths from Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church. Knowing them made me optimistic about the future. Thanks much for a refreshing, horizon-expanding and meaningful camp, Pastor Tony Lim, Hon Yau, Lukas and everyone at X-Men, CareBear, Doraemon and Banana groups...

If we just look at the world and do not support each other in a community of faith, it's easy to get depressed, frustrated and give up under the sheer weight of human needs around us. It's a community project - imagine Frodo without Sam and the Fellowship of the Ring. Even William Wilberforce, the famous abolitionist, who persevered despite repeated failures (it's a marathon) had the support of likeminded friends in the Clapham Sect... (or Tolkien had the Inklings)

a) We live in the tension of being ‘in’ but not ‘of’ the world. There is a wideness in God's mercy that transcends racial, gender, cultural barriers yet we are called to avoid worldliness or value systems that oppose God or take Him out of the equation. (James 4:4)

b) Withdrawal from the world leaves us with a sheltered but irrelevant corner in the universe. Compromise with the world leaves with a popular but watered down gospel.

Leon told me the analogy of the housemate from hell. Someone who knows he'd be moving in a month's time and refuses to do his duties around the house, because he'd be gone anyway... the house is just a temporary transit. But we dunno when Christ will return, next week or 500 years time! So if we could be staying on earth for the next few hundred years, we have every reason to treat it with care and respect.

Three Areas We Need To Care About the Malaysian world

i. The Church as an inclusive community of racial reconciliation, being for the other and justice. We need to wake up from tidak-apathy and a form of tribalism (defending our interests only) by speaking up on behalf of non-Christians also (as some of us did in the moorthy/revathi/orang asli cases). In the words of Keropok lekor, we can "creatively surprise the "other" through scandalous/unexpected/revolutionary acts of kindness and grace."

ii. The Church as witness and conversation partner with people of various religious persuasions. We need to ambassadors for Christ in word and deed. Interfaith dialogue does not exclude evangelism, but deepens it. Witness does not exclude dialogue, but invites it in a humble spirit of "understand and then be understood" (one of the 5 love languages we learn about). Be equipped in knowledge (informed mind - know what and why we believe), wisdom (tactful method, question the questions) and character (humble, fair, respectful).

iii. The Church as salt and light in the marketplace, living for the glory of God in various spheres of life, in word and deed. Pastor Tony was insightful is laying out his vision of ministry as empowering and equipping the laity to minister in the world. Traditional paradigm of pastor as doer of ministry while the laity as mere receipients of ministry result in bottleneck.

Shared story about Sunway staff whose credibility is undermined bcos he has no competence/diligence at work. Marvin Wong on the "ministry of Work": "Pilots who fly well ensure the safety of passengers so they arrive on time. Auditors who perform add to ensuring financial integrity of companies and proper management of resources. Lawyers ensure the rights of all parties are protected..." Work in itself is a form of service and ministry to the world, not just a means for evangelism.

For some, obedience will lead us to the path of upward mobility like Daniel/Joseph and others the path of faithfulness leads to 'downward' mobility like Jesus/Paul. Each of us could discover our 'mutant powers', and be an ordained salesperson/lawyers/rap artists/any-lawful-work for the glory of God

Discussion questions:

1) At Jacob's well, Jesus reached across racial, religious and gender barriers in a simple conversation with the Samaritan woman. How shall we follow Christ humbly and boldly in doing the same here in Malaysia? What are some barriers we need to cross? How could we do that?

2) What are the subjects you study in college/school? What does that field of study say about what is true, good and beautiful? For example, if I want to be a rap artist, how can I do so ‘Christianly’? If I am a Christian counselor, how would I see moral behaviors as determined by genes? If I'm a businessperson, how shall I look at monetary profits? Look at your own interest areas and ambition.

3) An ambassador for Christ should be equipped in the area of knowledge, wisdom and character. Which area do you feel needs to be strengthened further? Why and how would that be helpful in your witness?