World Watch List: 40
Leader: Mahathir Mohamad Prime Minister
Population: 32 million
Christian: 2.9 million
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Southeast Asia through:
- Prayer support
“I’ve seen Nora’s* face. I have her photos on my memory cards. But I will never be able to show you her face. I can’t reveal her true identity, because that will put her life in danger. She could face persecution and imprisonment for what she is doing.”
– Julia*, a photographer who took photos of Nora, a believer from a Muslim background in Malaysia, for an article
*names changed for security purposes
Source of persecution: Islamic oppression / Dictatorial paranoia
Disparity in the church
The Malaysian church is made up of indigenous Christians from two federal states on Borneo Island, ethnic Chinese and Indian believers, as well as converts from a Malay-Muslim background.
The former two groups of Christians are free to worship, as long as they do not share the gospel with Malays. They are monitored to ensure that they do not do so. As ethnic minorities (Malays make up over half of the population), Chinese and Indian citizens already face disadvantages, for example in employment, education, and taxes, as Malays are entitled to various benefits from the state.
Every Malay is expected to be Muslim, so when one decides to leave Islam for Christianity, the state, the Malay community, and family members would strongly oppose the conversion. These believers often hide their faith and meet in secret. If discovered, they could face rejection from their family, or be forced to divorce their partner. Some may be reported and sent to a re-education camp, or simply disappear. Their children may also be bullied at school because of their parents’ faith.
Islam in Malaysia
Islam plays a very important role in the Malaysia. It influences the laws, education system, and other aspects of life. State-run nurseries and primary schools have compulsory Islamic education for all students. Various Muslim non-governmental organisations champion Islam in the society and remind citizens that being a Malay means being a Muslim. The word ‘Allah’ for God in the Malay language was banned in 2017 for Christians, even though it was used for hundreds of years in Bibles and other Christian literature previously.
- For Christians to have wisdom and courage to reach out to all Malaysians with the gospel despite the tight restrictions.
- For God’s protection and blessing over the secret meetings of converts from Islam, and that these meetings are edifying for believers and glorifying to God.
- That the Lord will touch the hearts of the people who are persecuting Christians in Malaysia, and bring them to repentance.