“On 31 Dec 2009, the High Court decided that ban by the Home Ministry against the Herald (a Catholic Weekly) for using the word “Allah” in their publication is unconstitutional and therefore invalid; The use of the word “Allah” is not exclusive to Muslims only but non-Muslims religious groups such as Christians have the right to use the word “Allah” as this is their constitutional right. The decision was hailed as a landmark decision by all parties but has brought significant implication for Christians in Malaysia.”
On Friday morning (8 Jan) I received this SMS from a friend:
HL: I heard Metro got bombed yesterday night?
Me: U serious?
HL: My friend say it is on malaysiakini website
I immediately phoned a close friend from the allegedly-bombed-church, and he confirmed the incident. What followed were a flurry of smses and checking out the local as well as international news reports surrounding the incident.
So, it was true.
A church in my neighbourhood was torched.
It was the church my cousin, sister and friends attend week in, week out. The place where they gathered to pray, worship, and encourage one another in the faith. Although only the ground floor was burnt, the entire church was rendered unusable for now. The church will have to meet in another venue for their Sunday service.
As we now know, this wasn’t an isolated incident. To date there have been at least 6 or 7 attacks (i’m starting to lose count) on several churches in the country. Who are these guys carrying out the attacks? What were they trying to achieve? Were they hired? Or was this some random reaction of a few against the ‘Allah’ court ruling?
Initially, i thought of entitling this post ‘Church on fire’ – an ironic departure from the conventional understanding of the term. On 2nd thought, it seemed like a lame, insensitive pun. But on 3rd thought… perhaps it could be a prophecy on things to come…
An elder in my church commented that this could be a wake-up call to the Malaysias church, especially for those in West Msia. For long, we have been in a comfortable position. By and large from a middle-class background, we have led relatively comfortable lives, free from prosecution for our faith. We have allowed complacency, apathy, and materialism to set in. Many are indifferent or naive of the happenings in our nation – in particular what is going on among our majority neighbors. And then something like this happens, and we are (quite naturally) stunned.
Well at least I was.
So how now brown cow? What would be our response as part of the Christian community in Malaysia? Do we love our country enough to be driven to our knees, asking, pleading for God to heal our land? Will we join our hands in partnership to participate in God’s mission of reconciliation in our community, reaching out to love our neighbour as ourselves? Will we be a generation of Christ followers who will stand-up against hatred and falsehood to fight. Fighting – not with hatred, revenge or violence – but with love, truth, justice, overcoming evil with good.
The ball is in our court.
Now is the time…