In Peninsular Malaysia, which is also known as West Malaysia, there are 18 officially recognised indigenous tribes. The ancestors of these indigenous (Orang Asli) tribes were the first people to populate the peninsula more than 4,000 years ago. Since then, most have continued a hunter-gatherer and small-scale agricultural lifestyle. Being an Orang Asli in Malaysia […]
In Peninsular Malaysia, which is also known as West Malaysia, there are 18 officially recognised indigenous tribes. The ancestors of these indigenous (Orang Asli) tribes were the first people to populate the peninsula more than 4,000 years ago. Since then, most have continued a hunter-gatherer and small-scale agricultural lifestyle.
Being an Orang Asli in Malaysia means facing many of the difficulties experienced by indigenous groups across the globe. Most of the forests that they depend on for their livelihoods are now owned by the Malaysian government. These areas have been subject to rapid development, including intensive logging and the expansion of palm oil plantations and other large scale agricultural crops. This means Orang Asli have become one of the most vulnerable communities in Malaysia.
Another challenge for the Orang Asli, is the low standard of education, with most Orang Asli people receiving only primary school-level formal education. It is therefore particularly significant that, at the end of 2021, Bah Jamal Bin Ngah graduated from Sabah Theological Seminary (STS) in Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia. He is only the second male Orang Asli student to do so.
The Lutheran Church in Malaysia (LCM) began ministry to the Orang Asli people in the 1970s when a Batak Christian named Napitupulu, married a Sengoi woman. Later, he became an ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Batak People in Indonesia. He served until his death in 1960. Since that time LCM has been providing funds and personnel to support the ministry, together with partner churches.
The Orang Asli Ministry has 11 congregations and 11 outreach points. These are served by six pastors, 12 pastoral assistants and four teachers.
Pastor Bah Jamal is now serving at the 19th Mile congregation in the Cameron Highlands, the region in which he grew up. He is from a family of five children and his pastor advised him not to get married until after he finished his studies. His mentor Pastor Chu sought him out after he was a Penolong Pastor (Pastor’s assistant) for a few years.
He is particularly passionate about working with young Orang Asli people and sharing the gospel with those who don’t yet know Jesus. Pastor Bah Jamal believes that when evangelising, it is important to be motivated and patient, to walk in prayer, hope and love, and the word of God.
He has clear hopes for the future of his ministry and his people and to see the Lutheran Church in Malaysia improve in many aspects of their Orang Asli ministry, including faith-building, teaching the gospel, love towards God and one another, improving lifestyles of congregations and economic activities.
‘Pray for the future ministry of the church’, says Pastor Bah Jamal. ‘May God help me in planning of our ministry in the future.”
Pastor Bah Jamal was able to complete his studies through STS with the financial help of a scholarship provided by LCA International Mission and the Lutheran Women of Australia. Your support of scholarships to the Orang Asli community continues to change lives and supports local churches to reach out with the gospel to their communities and those who don’t yet know Jesus.
This story was also published in the August 2022 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.
If you would like to know more about opportunities to personally support a scholarship recipient in your congregation during their stay in Australia, or ways in which you can financially and prayerfully support LCA International Mission’s scholarship program, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email email@example.com
Read more stories about LCA International Mission scholarships at https://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/scholarships/