Precious Cargo

Despite the trying natural and man-made conditions around them, the Orang Asli people of Malaysia are finding hope, strength and love in the Messiah they have been introduced to.

Water sprays along the side of the speeding boat as we travel toward the distant huts perched on the raised ledges of the islands in the middle of “artificial” Lake Temenggor in northern Malaysia.

Formerly nomadic people, the Orang Asli (indigenous people of Malaysia who roamed this region) have been forced to settle in small communities on these islands, due to the creation of the massive inland lake and dam, which supplies water to northern Malaysia.

Part of our boat’s precious cargo includes bags of rice, biscuits, medicine – Pastor Liu (from the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore) and Orang Asli ministry co-ordinator, Garry Lee.

Life on these islands is isolated and harsh. Taking up to an hour and only operational during daylight, boat rides connect the Orang Asli to the nearest road. Restrictions also apply to the times that people can visit the islands. And no one other than the Orang Asli can inhabit the region.

Illegal logging in the region has seen massive areas of native forest denuded, which also strips native animals of their habitat. This has had a disastrous effect on the food supply available to those who live on the islands. Also, the previously nomadic Orang Asli are not adept in the cultivation of food crops.

Sitting under a bamboo constructed shelter cum worship place on one of the islands, women and children share stories with Pastor Lui about their lack of food – and their hunger. Frequently, the 100 people in the two villages we are visiting have only one meal a day. To survive, they often are forced to eat the insects or roots of trees.

For the pasts 15 years, those living in two of the self-created island village settlements have been visited every second week by Pastor Lui – a woman with a great heart to share the love of Jesus Christ. Together with the support of Mr Lee and LCMS teams from various parts of Malaysia – as well as the support of the LCA – these isolated people are experiencing the love of Jesus Christ in, and through, his Word. Gifts of love, in the form of rice, tinned foods, biscuits, medicine and clothing, are practical ways Jesus love is demonstrated here.

The original Orang Asli of Malaysia are animistic; worshiping and fearing the “spirits” around them. Through the love and care of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore (LCMS) members – as well as the partnership between the LCA and the LCMS in northern Malaysia and in the Cameron Highlands – many are coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Together, we join with God in His mission of bringing the love of Jesus to these people.

Asked why he has continued to be a member of the LCMS Orang Asli ministry committee for more than ten years, Mr Lee simply answers: “I love these people.”

Praise God that many people know Jesus and are keen to make him known to others.

This story was also published in the June 2011 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

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