How many Christians are there in Malaysia?
Malaysia is predominantly Muslim. There are around three million Christians – just nine per cent of the country’s 33.2 million population.
How are Christians persecuted in Malaysia?
According to the country’s constitution, every ethnic Malay is expected to be Muslim. Consequently, those who convert to Christianity experience severe pressure from families and communities. By law, apostasy is punishable by death.
All non-Muslim religious groups are watched by the authorities, as are non-governmental organisations. Christians who actively share their faith face intimidation and harassment.
Political instability in recent years has resulted in more of an emphasis on conservative Islam, which has intensified pressure on Christians – and it may yet get worse if government proposals to widen the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law) are accepted.
The pandemic has reportedly caused an increase in domestic violence. This has put Christian female converts at even greater risk. As a Malay Muslim, a woman is ultimately subject to Islamic Family Law and the consequence of following Jesus could involve forced marriage or, if under 16, child marriage.
On rare occasions, female Christian converts are vulnerable to being detained and interrogated by authorities and then asked to betray Christian networks and leaders.
“I’ll run to God, because He’s the only One I can depend on and He always turns up for me.” Susannah Koh, whose husband Raymond was abducted and is still missing
What’s life like for Christians in Malaysia?
In February 2017, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight whilst driving to visit a friend. Two years later, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) concluded that he was a victim of enforced disappearance by the Special Branch of the Malaysian Police Department.
And yet, the family still doesn’t have firm answers about what happened to Raymond or where he is now. They also don’t know why he was taken – although he had been accused of sharing the gospel with Malay Muslims, which is illegal in Malaysia, and this may partly account for his capture.
Raymond’s wife, Susanna, is filing a lawsuit against the police and Malaysian government over Raymond’s abduction. It has been a long and difficult journey for her and the couple’s adult children, Elizabeth, Esther and Jonathan. Your support is helping the Koh family in their advocacy efforts.
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Malaysia?
Although the situation for Christians in Malaysia remains relatively unchanged, there are concerns persecution may get worse as the country swings towards radical Islamic belief and practice.
There is less tolerance, or even hope of tolerance, with the new government than in past years. To maintain order, the continued policy of preferential treatment for ethnic Malay people puts anyone outside Islam under tighter scrutiny.
Furthermore, Sharia (Islamic law) may be imposed more widely, if proposed amendments are implemented, including heavier punishments for leaving Islam and Sharia being imposed on non-Muslims as well as Muslims. This could result in increased persecution of Christians.
How can I help Christians in Malaysia?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Malaysia. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works with local church partners in Malaysia to provide discipleship training, Bibles and Christian books, and socio-economic aid.
Lord Jesus, provide discipleship and fellowship for every single one of Your children in Malaysia. Pour Your supernatural strength and peace into all those especially struggling today. Work in the heart of government to prevent Sharia (Islamic law) being more widely and strongly implemented. Intervene in situations where believers are desperate for a breakthrough – including the safe and imminent release of Pastor Raymond Koh. Amen.