Interview with Pastor Robinson Simunyi
IN Malaysia, about 60% of the total Christian population are in Sabah and Sarawak. Berita NECF hopes to occasionally feature the thoughts and views of pastors and Christian leaders in East Malaysia. In this issue, Pastor Robinson Simunyi of SIB Canada Hill in Miri, talks about issues facing Christians in Sarawak.
Berita NECF: How have churches moved forward since the April 2011 Sarawak election?
Ps Robinson: Many churches in town and city areas are fervently praying for Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole. Christians want to see righteousness, integrity and justice as the foundations on which the state should be governed. There is deep concern for the future of Sarawak as to where we are heading.
Churches are challenged with the task of bringing the gospel to the longhouses, villages and communities that have not been reached. But churches are also confronted with other challenges like land right issues, unbalanced development, and the spreading of other faiths and beliefs that seek to influence and win over our children.
To a certain extent, these challenges are good because they have awaken many Sarawak churches to be alert, to pray more and be more urgent about outreach. There is a real concern to protect children in the interior and to start pre-schools in these areas.
What are some lessons Sarawak Christians have learned since the state election?
Ps Robinson: a) United and continuous prayer does make a difference. Christians have come to realise the need to pray more and bring about awareness for a good and clean government, and for good, capable and honest representatives. This message needs to be conveyed to those in the interior to build their awareness.
b) It is a challenge to change the mindset of people in the interior because they fear that they will be left out of development depending on how they vote. They are also not aware about what is going on with regards to corruption and other issues.
c) Christians need to know that politics is not dirty. It is the people in politics that give politics a bad name and make it dirty. Politics is the art and science of how a government is formed and how a country is governed. Every adult citizen should be involved in the electoral process of the country, meaning, he or she has to be involved in how the government of the day is formed. All young people 21 years-old and above need to be reminded that they must register as voters and they must cast their votes.
What are some challenges faced by Sarawak Christians that Peninsula believers should know about?
Ps Robinson: (i) We need prayer support from the churches in West Malaysia.
(ii) We need equipping and training for our leaders and believers in specific areas of ministry, e.g. teaching pre-school.
(iii) We need resources like teaching materials and finances to help us reach the very remote areas of Sarawak. The cost of going to these places is high. We also need finances to build church buildings, pastors' houses and facilities in the interior areas. Many churches here do not want to ask because we do not want to be seen as "beggars" but these are genuine needs.
(iv) We need more English-speaking pastors and leaders here. Christian graduates in West Malaysia should come over to work in Sarawak with the intention to help the Sarawak churches. Do not be judgemental about how we do things. Come over with the intention to help us. Come and work alongside our leaders. We need more young people from West Malaysia to work and minister alongside our young people in Sarawak.
In what ways could Peninsula Christians be more supportive of fellow-believers in Sarawak?
Ps Robinson: We should network and serve together. Fellowship meetings should be organised to interact, to get to know one another and to share our thoughts and ideas on how we can help one another.
Ministry visits should be encouraged so that areas of genuine needs can be addressed. Peninsular churches then can identify the areas or fields they can be involved in to help.