History is the story of God giving away power for the good of mankind. After entrusting the human species with the gift of free choice, God invited His representatives to act as partners, even to argue and wrestle with the One who created them.
Yet, virtually everyone God picked to lead a new venture - Adam, Abraham, Moses, David - proved disappointing in part. But it seems that God has committed to work with human partners no matter how inept they are.
In the New Testament, Jesus stayed on earth long enough to assemble a dozen followers (who were no less flawed), to whom He handed the keys of the kingdom of God. We are "God's fellow workers" to collaborate with His actions in the world. As God's co-workers, we need one another to do His work effectively. Indeed, there is truth in the saying "There is strength in numbers."
Likewise, NECF Malaysia as a national body does not work alone. It desires to serve the Christian community and the nation through the local churches. This is a lofty task which requires the partnership of local churches.
Of late, there have been many issues of public life and concerns that require our attention and action. Such issues cannot be handled by one single organisation or by churches alone. They need the input and counsel of the entire Christian community.
For example, the implications arising from the 'Allah' issue affect all facets of church life and require wise counsel and wisdom for the appropriate response.
Then, there is the issue of school principals closing down non-Muslim religious bodies (Christian Fellowships, Buddhist societies, etc.) at their whims and fancies, going against an earlier circular from the Ministry of Education allowing the establishment of such bodies with certain provisos.
Dealing with such overzealous civil servants will prove challenging for us Christians as we strive to maintain our religious space.
Will this issue be resolved once and for all? Perhaps not, as there will always be "Little Napolean-Principals" trying to push their personal agenda. But that's why we need the national bodies to guard the interests of their charges.
In early August, the Aljazeera broadcast channel carried a news report on the Pahang Government's effort to convert the Orang Asli (indigenous people) to Islam by offering housing, electricity and material goods. The report showed images of brick houses belonging to those who had become Muslims and wooden, straw houses of those who chose not to convert to Islam. An Orang Asli man interviewed said he lost his native land to the state government upon conversion to Islam.
The news report, entitled "Malaysia ethnic tribes 'forced to convert' " was uploaded on YouTube which is being circulated throughout the world.
Such unethical and unaaceptable actions on the part of the Government highlight the unjust and biased position of the authorities against those who chose not to convert to Islam.
It showed how state benefits that are meant for the welfare of a particular cultural community have been manipulated for the selfish ends of some people. Again, moving against the tide of such irregularities demands concerted and united efforts from churches and the relevant organisations.
Predictably, the Malaysian Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) denied offering material inducements for conversion to Islam, but even as they are busy denouncing the Aljazeera news, reports of similar enticements to the indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak were surfacing.
These are only a few examples. There are so many more issues that need to be addressed at the highest level and it takes collaborative effort to gather the resources and face the challenges. The vitality of partnership and networking is crucial and our call is for churches to avail their resources and work with us over the many critical national issues.
Will you contribute your resources for the sake of our Church and our nation? Find out how on pages 10 to 11.