News Malaysia | 28-4-2024

Malaysia: How the Gospel is Working in a Marginalised Community


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A lack of a stable income for members of the Bajau Pelauh people (nomads of the sea in East Malaysia) is just one of the struggles the community endures. Pastor Ava*, a local pastor who works among this people group, initiated a project to alleviate these concerns, with an emphasis on sharing the love of Christ and providing basic necessities to the those that are struggling.

The Bajau Pelauh people are known to be some of the poorest of the coastal districts, in part because of various regulations and residential difficulties. Their lack of a stable income increases their dependence on hard, low-paying daily work, which is made worse by the fact that they are considered illegal immigrants in Malaysia.

In this marginalised community, drug abuse is not uncommon. Some have turned to homemade drugs to boost productivity in the face of harsh working conditions, but the results are far from positive. Children are born with the effects of drug use, and many adults wind up in mental health facilities.

One Open Doors partner said that some members of the Bajau will sell themselves in order to get food, a desperate move after all other options have been exhausted.

Pastor Ava*, a devoted local pastor, wanted to show Jesus’ love in this community. Ava established a program aimed at proactively tackling the various challenges faced by the Bajau Pelauh people. Ava’s unwavering dedication, often at the expense of her own well-being and the use of personal funds, is directed towards the spreading of Christ’s teachings.

Ava recruited another local pastor, Remy*, and together they orchestrated hygiene classes to combat the spread of skin diseases and garnered sponsors to help provide food to impoverished families.

Positive outcomes have already surfaced, including a decrease in substance abuse among Pelau’s young people. Ongoing efforts aim to further support these families and their children. Open Door’s local partners were inspired by her passion and decided to join her on this journey.

Local partners have supported Pastor Ava and Pastor Remy in their various efforts, including helping in schools for children, assisting in the discipleship of new believers, and expanding their ministry among the Pelauh people. Since the third quarter of 2023, Ava’s commitment to God’s calling has yielded positive outcomes, with many individuals embracing Christ, undergoing baptism, and actively participating in discipleship programs. At present, approximately 20 individuals from this community have been baptised and are engaged in weekly discipleship groups. 

This initiative has also been pivotal in ensuring the daily provision of breakfast and lunch to Pelauh students, recognizing the significance of nurturing both their spiritual and physical welfare. It has also fostered stronger family bonds for young people within the Christian context through collaborative celebrations.

As an added blessing, stakeholders have joined forces to support Pastor Ava’s project, including providing hygiene classes and daily sustenance for impoverished families. These concerted efforts have aimed to combat drug abuse within the Bajau Pelauh community, resulting in tangible positive outcomes.

Endeavours like Ava’s exemplify the love and compassion of Christ in action, showcasing how faith-inspired initiatives can bring about transformative change and uphold the community’s well-being.

*Name has been changed for security purposes.
Image: Hairullah Ponichan,

please pray
  • Pray for the protection and provision of Pastor Ava and the team as they continue to serve in the ministry. Pray for wisdom from the Lord when they face challenges and opposition that they may illuminate the light of Christ.
  • Pray for healing and restoration for individuals struggling with addiction and exploitation, so that they may find freedom and wholeness in Christ.
  • Pray for the ongoing impact of this project, that it may continue to bear fruit in the lives of the Bajau Pelauh people, transforming hearts and communities for the glory of God.
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