Ever been away with your youth group or church? Those times can be amazing – times when we connect with God, deepen friendships and have a good laugh in the process. The same is true for Christian young people around the world.
Just under 10% of the population in Malaysia is Christian, but the government defines ethnically Malay people as Mulsims, and leaving Islam is illegal in most states. Christians say Muslims are favoured by the government, and Christians don’t get the same benefits as their Muslim neighbours.
In this context, young Christians face lots of pressures. Many go to boarding schools – they come from poor communities with no schools nearby. They therefore go to schools far away, and can’t afford to travel back at weekends (or sometimes even holidays). In this context, young poor Christians, surrounded by Muslim teachers and living in hostels, far from their families, can sometimes lose their faith in Jesus.
Open Doors partners run special youth camps for young people across Malaysia, to help them come to know the truth of Jesus. They can be pretty important – Sara is from a Christian family and recently went to a camp – it’s changed her life. She’s from a family who live in a poor rural area, and she’d always grown up feeling inferior to everyone else. When she left for school, that inferiority started to show itself in bad ways – she started bullying others to feel she was important.
At the camp she met with Jesus, and he helped her understand her behaviour – and what was behind it all. She’s asked for forgiveness and has found a new identity as a daughter of God.
“I am so grateful for this camp because I have learnt about God and his love and I have found a new identity as a child of God.”
Sharon, one of the youth leaders on the camps explains with the message of Jesus is so important to keep sharing, especially with young people who are struggling with poverty, dysfunctional families and feelings of rejection and abandonment.
“Christianity wins through love. This is what is most important – that these kids know they are loved even with their broken hearts,” says Juniad.
Image: Juliana who attended one of the camps…
Juliana, a teenager who went to one of the camps was asked how we can support her and her friends at the camp. She said:
“Pray for us, young people, so that we may be strong in the faith, even in the midst of other religions and other gods. I believe that this is the right way to live and young people will catch something from the Bible that will change their lives – and make them even better than before.”
So, pray that now. Pray Julianna, Sara and others like them will be strong in their faith despite pressure from teachers and Malaysia culture to identify as Muslim. Pray that young people will be inspired and changed by God’s Word and that Jesus will meet with them and change their lives. And pray those same things for yourself. Ask God to keep your faith strong, and that you’ll be changed by Him.
1. Download our free ‘God with us’ youth/small group session and work through material like this with your youth or small group…
2. Send a Christmas message of hope to young Christians in Algeria whose churches have been forcibly closed…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.