Treasured chance to share a Lutheran perspective

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia (ELCM) is one of four Lutheran synods in Malaysia. Its focus is on working with the Tamil people of Peninsula (West) Malaysia.

Malaysia is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation. The Malay majority are Muslims and it is a crime to convert Malays. Those Malays who do convert to Christianity have to practise their new faith in secret, otherwise they will lose many privileges and be sent off to re-education camps. Yet among ethnic minorities such as the Tamils, there are many Christians and churches which are allowed to operate openly. For the Tamil Christians, the greatest challenge is to lead other Tamils out of the Hinduism they brought with them from India.

The ELCM is a small synod of about 30 pastors, so it does not have its own seminary. Instead, their pastors go through a five-year training program at an interdenominational Bible college. The college has only one Lutheran on its faculty. As a result, their general theological knowledge is good but they have a limited understanding of Lutheran theology. This has led their Bishop, Solomon Rajah, to reach out to the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) International Mission. His hope is that the LCA will send scholars several times a year to run seminars for his pastors, strengthening them in Lutheran teaching.

As part of this new initiative I was invited to give a Lutheran response to Pentecostalism. This provided a wonderful opportunity to delve into the Scriptures, explore a Lutheran understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit and to grapple with questions that the Pentecostal movement has raised for the Church as a whole.

Bishop Solomon is due to retire this year but Bishop-elect Steven Lawrence hopes to continue this initiative into the future.

Malaysia is a beautiful country and I experienced a warm welcome. The ELCM pastors speak good English and I found them to be good humoured and not at all shy about coming forward with their opinions. This led to very robust and fruitful discussions.

As always when I travel overseas to teach, I found that my perspective was broadened and enriched. Whenever we engage with Christians overseas in this way, they bless us just as much as we are able to bless them.

This story was also published in the December 2020 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email For more information, go to

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