Christians are experiencing persecution in many nations around the world, but most people wouldn’t think that the secularised society of Malaysia would be on the list.
Things are changing though, with the rules that govern the Islamic majority nation becoming more in line with Sharia Law.
Malaysia is made up of three main ethnic groups: Chinese, Indians and ethnic Malaysians who are legally Muslim by birth.
Tony Benjamin, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs, has recently returned from Malaysia and joined Neil Johnson on Vision Christian Radio’s 20Twenty program to share an update on the Christian persecution he witnessed.
“Since May 2018 when they had a change of government, the locals thought that there would be leniency for Malays, but it seems to just be a repeat of what was happening before. Particularly the ethnic Malays who convert to Christianity, they’re the ones that have the biggest challenge in all of this.”
People who are of Chinese and Indian decent but are born in Malaysia are free to convert to Christianity, as well as those people who immigrate to or visit Malaysia. However, it’s the ethnic-Malays who choose to follow Christ that are now facing real persecution. The Malaysian Constitution prohibits Malays from leaving the Muslim faith.
“The government is very, very stringent with them in terms of even considering changing from the way they are born. When you’re born [in Malaysia] you’re born as a Muslim person. So there’s no leverage given on anybody who wants to change their faith at all.”
“The discontentment is very, very high with that Law. Each year when we visit Malaysia, we’re meeting more and more ethnic-Malays who have since come to Christ and are facing this challenge of where they fit in.”
“For most of them it’s not affordable to send your child or children to a private or international school, so the only option they have is to send them to a Muslim school. Even then, the kids will not get admitted to the school if they have a different ID. So, where one of the parents are Muslim, it doesn’t matter if it’s the mother or father, that’s the ID they will accept, that’s the only one they will accept. If the mother is Christian, she doesn’t even get recognised in that situation and vice-versa if it’s the father. It’s very, very difficult for people to carry on their daily lives with this situation.”
“It goes as far as getting medical assistance and so on. So people have all kinds of dramas when they have these mixed marriages between the faiths just to be able to function normally, let alone if you are an on-fire evangelical Christian that’s leading others to Christ. That’s when the authorities are really in your face.”
When someone converts from Islam to Christianity, this is not a decision they take lightly. Knowing that they might be disowned from their families and face struggles living day to day life, it means those who make the decision to follow Jesus are incredibly genuine in their convictions.
In the full interview audio below, Tony and Neil further discuss the incredible strength and on-fire faith those who have converted to Christianity have.
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