The Orang Asli: A village of joy


Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to visit the Orang Asli, an aboriginal tribe of Malaysia. It was a long journey – We took a ferry across to the mainland of Malaysia, then drove for three to four hours, then hiked for a bit. Finally, we arrived.

These aboriginal people were facing extreme poverty, and. Pastor Choo has been doing what she can to help them by delivering goods and supplies. In order to get to the Christian village, we had to pass through a Muslim village. We found out that the people in the Muslim village have been stealing some of the supplies we have been passing onto the Christian village, so Pastor Choo told us that we were going to be giving the Muslim village some supplies today as well. It was one of the first times that Pastor Choo has ever worked with people in the Muslim village, and it was amazing to see how surprised and genuinely thankful they were that we would do this for them. I feel like God has really opened a door into that community due to the generosity of Pastor Choo and her congregation.

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Food and clothing supplies

We then walked down the hill  and waited at the edge of the water for a few minutes, while some of the village men brought the boats across. We hopped in, and then floated across a lake to the Christian village, a tribal people of about 100 whom live on a small peninsula in the Malaysian jungle. The bamboo structures in this village were simple, yet solid. It was incredible to hear about their way of life – the men hunt during the day (mainly monkey and lizards), while the women take care of the children. When we were on the island, I could hardly believe that we were in the year 2013…their way of life was so tribal. And it was truly an honor to be the first white people that had ever been on the island.

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Yet, there was something about the way they lived that I really respected – I believe what intrigues me most is its simplicity. Pastor Choo calls this people Happy Valley Church, and I began to understand why as the children sang songs and danced for us. Each of the children radiated the light of Christ; and mothers seemed to be so genuinely happy and filled with joy, just to be living. I could see Christ all over them!

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I’m reminded of when Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). The original meaning of the word “poor” in this verse is not just a lack of things. It means someone who is empty, completely dependent on someone else. The people in this village knew that everything came from God, and their day-to-day existence relied completely on their relationship with Him. For this, they were shown the kingdom of heaven, filled with an unexplainable joy unlike anything in this world.

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I wish I could take you, all my American friends, to see this village. We don’t need to have all the stuff to be happy…we’re so mistaken if we think that satisfaction comes from things. Really, all we need is Him. Jesus is the ultimate source of our joy – because only in Him can we be truly satisfied.

Although I can’t take you there in person, the beauty of technology is that you can go to this village of joy on your computer! So sit back, relax, and take in the way of life of the Orang Asli:

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

(Psalm 126: 1-3)

Makin’ Banana Pancakes

We discovered banana roti after a long day of ministry in Thailand, and we never went back. It’s banana chocolately goodness became our comfort food, and many evenings us World Racers would venture out in attempt to satisfy those oh-so-familiar midnight chocolate cravings.

Here in Malaysia, we are staying right next to Little India, conveniently situated between exactly three restaurants which serve banana roti. Penang is known for their street food, and it was rated by CNN Travel as one of the top food cities in Asia. So this month, I thought I’d order banana roti from one of the street vendors and post this recipe, courtesy of Yaowalak (Ann) and Jerry Good on www.importfood.com

Ingredients (Makes 8 roti)

  • 1 large or extra-large egg
  • 1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk + more for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • Canola oil
  • Ghee or margarine for frying (don’t use butter; it will burn)
  • 4 bananas, thinly sliced
  • A few Tbsp chocolate sauce, for drizzling

In small bowl or mixing cup, whisk together water, egg, 1 tablespoon condensed milk, sugar and salt.

In medium mixing bowl, add flour. Make well in center. Pour in water mixture. Mix with wooden spoon until it comes together. Drizzle with butter. Using hands, knead to form ball of dough. Knead 3 to 5 minutes until soft and elastic. Lightly grease with oil. Return ball to mixing bowl. Let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes.

Twist and break dough into 8 balls (each about 1-1/2 inches wide). Coat each with oil. (You can make ahead to here. Keep at room temperature in sealed container for up to 6 hours.)

Using rolling pin, roll 1 ball as thinly as possible into rough circle with jagged edges, repeatedly coating fingers and dough lightly with oil to aid stretching. (Aim for 10 to 12 inches, but if your roti is smaller, simply adjust filling accordingly.) The locals do this by “throwing” the dough in a circular motion:

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Heat large non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium high. Add dollop of ghee or margarine. When hot, place roti in pan. (It will start to shrink immediately.) Quickly spread banana slices over centre (about 1/2 banana per roti)

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Fold edges in and over filling to form square packet (about 5 inches), flattening packet with spatula. Cook until both sides are lightly browned in spots and roti is crispy, 1 to 2 minutes total, reducing heat if browning too darkly

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Transfer to plate. Drizzle with condensed milk and chocolate sauce. Using pizza cutter, cleaver or knife, cut into bite-size squares. Repeat with remaining rotis and filling.

Enjoy! It’s super yummy if you add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top too :-)

In Boston as it is in Heaven

Boston has been on my heart this past week... It’s so tragic to watch the news from across the world and see devastation in the places you know and love, thinking “I walk down that street all the time” or “I get groceries there.” Due to the poor decisions of two individuals, three lives were lost and hundreds of lives will be forever altered – my heart is broken on behalf of the families that were affected. As friends I know posted on Facebook that they were safe, tears came to my eyes and I prayed prayers of thanksgiving, knowing that others were not as lucky.

Yet in the midst of hardship, God promises that He will work all things to the good of those who love Him, who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). It obviously wasn’t His will for this to happen, but He is a redeeming God, good at making even the most ugly situations beautiful and full of hope. In addition to funds being established to support those affected by the blast, I was intrigued to see how the Christian community in Boston came around those in need. Rev. LeSette Wright of Peacekeepers organized available clergy to pray for and provide support for individuals, families, and first responders. In addition, more than eighteen separate vigils were held in Boston and the surrounding area in honor of the victims. Below, a moment captured from a candlelight service in Dorchester:

God has placed a dream in my heart for unity among Christian brothers and sisters, so it was inspiring to see the Christian community come together to care for the people who had been affected. But these past few days I’ve been thinking:   Why does tragedy lead to unity?

Whenever the church has been persecuted, it has flourished. This started in the first church in Acts – people were imprisoned, flogged, murdered – and yet this only fanned the flame of fire in the people who had seen the miracles of a man named Jesus and were ready to die for what they had experienced. Today, according to the Voice of the Martyrs, there are currently 52 countries in the world where where government policy or practice prevents Christians from obtaining Bibles and laws lead to Christians being harassed. Yet in China, a nation where any non-governmental religious program is prohibited, Christianity has flourished – with a complex network of thousands of secret meetings happening in the underground church every day.

So, why does tragedy lead to unity?

I believe that tragedy forces us to take our eyes off of ourselves and forces us to look bigger. It takes us off of our high horses and humbles us, so that we realize that we’re not as big as we think we are in this world. Tragedy and hardship break us, but in a good way. Because it’s in the midst of this brokenness, that God births dependence – Dependence on one another and (hopefully) dependence on Him.

I’ve been seeing tangible signs of the divisions within the church recently – today, a separate sections for Catholics and Protestants in a cemetary in Penang, Malaysia: Fotor041931226

So I’ve been thinking – what will it take for the Church to put aside our differences and come around the One who redeemed us and made us whole? Specifically, what will have to happen in the Church in the city of Boston to turn competition into cooperation and resentment into love?

As have met people in Malaysia, I mention that I’m from Boston – they think for a moment and then ask me if that was the place that the bombings happened. “Yes,” I affirm.

Yet I want Boston to be known for so much more than this act of hatred, or its rich history, or as a hub of university students and intellectuals, or that it’s the home of the Red Sox.

I want it to be known as a place of love. Boston was founded to be a city on a hill, as a light to the nations. Let’s work together to lift up Jesus, the redeemer of our souls and the center of our faith. We need to pull together now more than ever in Jesus name, knowing that he has conquered the pain of this world and our hope is in Him.

I question you – what could God do with a city that is united in His love? Can God unite an entire city, not due to tragic circumstances or persecution but because of the power of the one who loved us first? This is the question that burns on my heart, day in and day out, night after night. Jesus prayed that we would be one as He is one with the Father, so I know it will take place. The only question is: “How” and “When?” I believe that he has placed the answers to these two questions into our hands…He has given us, the Church, His body here on earth, the incredible responsibility of showing the world what love truly looks like.

I want to leave you with a short film put together by Grace Chapel, entitled “In Boston as it is in Heaven,” to encourage those who are hurting and distressed in our city:

 

Behold, I will bring health and healing to the city. I will heal them and reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.~Jeremiah 33:6 

May His kingdom come and His will be done in Boston and to the ends of the earth!

Kawan Means friends

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In the Malay language, the word “Kawan” simply means friends. We’ve had the privilege of serving at the Kawan Drop-in Center on the island of Penang, Malaysia this month. Open three days a week, approximately 80 to 100 people enter through Kawan’s doors each day. Not only do they serve breakfast and lunch, Kawan also provides showers, a clothes closet, and an area for people to sleep. The sleeping area is quite popular, because It’s actually illegal to sleep on the streets in Malaysia.

The staff at Kawan continue to amaze me. Folks, this is no ordinary soup kitchen. Kawan stays true to their name in its goal to be a place for friends of all ages, of all races, and all classes to come and receive love. With Chinese, Malay, and Indonesian people, it is truly a cultural melting pot that serves dang good food.

But Kawan is not simply a place to get fed – it also is intentional about helping people grow spiritually. From 11:00 to 12:00pm each day, they have a bible study, which many locals attend and are eager to question you on various aspects of the Christian faith. When opportunity arises, staff offers prayer, and many have professed faith in Christ as a result of the love they have received at Kawan. Love is definitely a theme of the center, which isn’t a surprise, considering it is located at 37 Love Lane.

I took my video camera around with me today during our time at Kawan – I thought you’d like to see the “insider’s perspective” of a typical day serving here. I’ll introduce you to a few of my new “kawans” too!

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) May God continue to use Kawan to love on “the least of these.”

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————- April 28 Update————

Here’s some photos from my last day of ministry at Kawan. I’m really going to miss this place!Fotor04276421