Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lulu Remembers The Orang Asli Church in Kelantan

The book of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Bible tells of how God's people return to the promised city which is now in ruins, rebuild the temple to His glory and the city walls to protect the temple.
The job was not done overnight. In fact, it took more than 100 years. The people faced all kinds of opposition, attempts to frustrate and dishearten them, but all these did not hinder them from their work for God.

When I first read about the demolition of an Orang Asli church in Kelantan blogged in bobjots, I felt this deep sense of sadness for God's people.

The Orang Asli community in Kampung Jias had embraced Christianity in February and wanted to erect a small church to mark their faith. They had build the church "secara gotong royong" and "gereja kami untuk menyembah Tuhan". (view scan of letter here).
Like the people in biblical times, they are faced with all kinds of opposition, attempts to frustrate and dishearten them.

On Mar 19, Steel and concrete work on footing and ground beams . However, a person who came in the JHEOA vehicle came to command us to stop work immediately for he had not given the permission to build the church building otherwise he will tear down the building.
Since the `so-called authority' contradicted themselves, the whole village decided that the building was to be of brick and concrete, for it will be most difficult to pull down.

During construction, on several occasions, people from religious groups came to the site uninvited and took photographs of the construction and those involved in the work.
The villagers refused to stop work even though they were afraid of the people who came.

On April 11, the Gua Musang district land office issued a stop work order. The letter stated that the construction was being carried out on state land without permission from the authorities.
They continued working fearlessly towards the decent place of worship. The following day, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF), in a letter to the land office, said the land belonged to the Orang Asli villagers. “Their right is guaranteed under Section 2 6(1) and 7(1) of the Orang Asli Act 1954,” read the letter signed by NECF secretary-general Reverend Wong Kim Kong.

On May 24, the land office issued a third notice informing the village headman Pedik Busu that the “illegal” structure would be demolished.

On 4th Jun, the church building was bulldozed and demolished in spite of various efforts to block the demolishment.

Is this the end of the story?
No! God is not finished with his work in us.

In the book of Nehemiah, we find this recurring phrase : “The hand of the Lord was upon me.” The hand of the Lord is not short but mighty and powerful. This invisible hand of the Lord comes and grips us, grasping us and giving us confidence, boldness, strength, and guidance, not only to build, but also to wage war against the devil and his minions. God will not ask us to build and then not give us the strength and the means to perform his will. He provides for all our needs through the firm grip of his mighty hand upon us. It is the grip of affection, the grip of direction, the grip of protection, the grip of power.

As we work with God, we remember his promise in Philipians 1:6 to finish his work in us.

The sequence of events and pictures can be found in this website set up by the pastor here.
Malaysiakini here
bobjots here.


Anonymous said...

Thank God for that.

Through the hands of God,
the State Govt had stopped another Hernan Cortes and Francisco Pizarro in action.

The Kelantan orang asli was that close to be next after the poor Incas and Aztecs and also other throves of natives ppl around the World.

" .. but also to wage war against the devil and his minions .. "


Sagaladoola said...

The following day, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship of Malaysia (NECF), in a letter to the land office, said the land belonged to the Orang Asli villagers. “Their right is guaranteed under Section 2 6(1) and 7(1) of the Orang Asli Act 1954,” read the letter signed by NECF secretary-general Reverend Wong Kim Kong.

This is really bad.... How could they tear the church down just like that?


Bob K said...

I think that we as the Church also have to re-evaluate our motivations and approach. Do we seek to pad the Kingdom with converts or do we seek to embody the Kingdom? And what exactly do we understand about the nature of the Kingdom?

I feel too often we seek to fill the spiritual needs of people without considering too much their material and socio-cultural needs. I believe the Gospel is robust enough to withstand such considerations, don't you think?

Perhaps what's needed is to be a "living" Gospel rather than a "talking" one.

Just my 2 cents.

Bob K said...


This isn't new nor a unique situation. It has been happening with churches, temples, suraus et al, esp. those that belong to smaller and marginalised communities.

Lord have mercy on us all.

kittykat46 said...

Hi Lulu,
Very sad. Article 11 of the Constitution guarantees the right of every person to practice AND PROPAGATE his religion. These Orang Asli are not Muslims, so the Government cannot restrict other religions from performing missionary activities among the Orang Asli.
However, there is heavy pressure to prevent Orang Asli from practicing religions other than Islam, via adminstrative means. As we can see in this case, its next to impossible for Orang Asli to get permission to build a church.

Anonymous said...

The PAS govt of Kelantan is supposed to be tolerant to other religions, just like they allowed the building of the largest statue of Buddha in Tumpat.Did the PAS state govt order the demolition of the Orang Asli church? Or was the order issued by the Religious Affairs dept of the PM's office in KL? Some answers are needed and badly too as religious tension in the country is escalating in the light of the rejection of the Lina Joy appeal

Anonymous said...

Hi Lulu, Kittykat46,

True-mah? Demolished?

I'm confused. Federal Constitution said got religious freedom. Televised advertisement on 50th Merdeka every night said, "We all in ONE big Family-loh!"

BN 2004 manifesto said: "BN upholds the diversity of religious practice, language and culture." Even ensures that no group is neglected or left behind, and each citizen has a stake in nation-building."

Ayaaah! Never mentioned, no church will be demolished-loh! Maybe next time BN should put in black and white. Must be guaranteed by law.

Demolish buildings, but can they demolish the spirit in our hearts, I wonder?


Anonymous said...

JHEOA is a govt agency under the Ministry of Regional and Rural Development, Putrajaya.

It is a federal agency not a Kelantan state agency

Bob K said...

Its' JHEOA policy to assimilate the Orang Asli community to the mainstream Malay Muslim community. It has been so since 1961.

Incidentally, while JHEOA is a Federal department, land issues are under State jurisdiction and the Gua Musang Land Office and the Gua Musang District Council are State agencies. So there's complicity between groups at all levels.

Anonymous said...

According to Mullah Napoleon of "Ladang Binatang" translated and adapted from Orwell's original work,
All religions are equal, but some religions are more equal than others. Welcome to Hadhariland

Ummu Fatimah said...

From what I heard, the Orang Aslis there were once Muslims, before the advance of evangelical mission on February. Note also in the police report made by the Ketua Kampung, his name was stated as Pedik BIN Busu. BIN denotes his religion before. Why must enter into Muslims places to convert them?

What A Lulu said...

a "bin" does not necesarily denote that the person is of islamic faith. it is commonly used amongst the orang asli, and the bumiputeras in east malaysia. for simplification and to show lineage, they were registered with a bin/binti on their names.
i have come across many non-muslims with a bin/binti on their name in uni and at work.
btw, IF they were indeed muslims, there would have been a surau in the community. there wasnt.

Ummu Fatimah said...

BTW, as long as I know, Islam does not allow demolition of other religions' house of worships - even in war Muslims are not allowed to demolish buildings and trees. However, if I were the authority in this case I will admit the weakness in monitoring newly converts such as Orang Asli, due to several reasons, allow for easy access of evangelical missions to that place.

Ummu Fatimah said...

Lulu, thank you for the clarification abt the BIN/BINTI. I were in most occasions mingle mainly with Muslim communities - so has missed the bigger scenario.

But there are many kampungs without suraus, because prayers can still be held at home in congregations. No suraus doesn't mean not a Muslim community, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

DO ORang Asli need to get permission to build a church on their land?

If yes, which law governs it?