MANY East Malaysian Christian youths from BM churches backslide once they go over to live in West Malaysia (WM) to study or work. Leaders of BM churches in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, met last December to brainstorm ways to arrest the spiritual decline, evident in the high dropout rate, coupled with reports of their involvement in drugs, alcoholism and other substance abuse.
Among the 12 present at the meeting were several leaders from WM, including NECF Malaysia BM Executive Secretary Alfred Tais. The meeting heard that once in WM, the youths have difficulty getting to church because most of the youths live in the university or college hostels, or hostels provided by their employers.
Many colleges also hold extra-curricular activities on Sundays, thus restricting the student youths from attending church services. Compounding these problems is the lack of information on the churches available to them.
Thus, even if they have the time and the transport, they do not know where to go. In short, they have no contact with churches and pastors who can minister to them. To resolve the problems, the leaders agreed on several measures to take. Firstly, they will hold consultations with pastors of BM churches in Sabah and Sarawak to inform them of the problems their youths are facing in WM.
Many pastors, both in WM and East Malaysia (EM), apparently are unaware of the problems. The pastors will then be encouraged to identify their youths who are coming over to WM, and link them with the churches in the location they will be living in.
To assist the pastors, NECF will provide them with a list of BM churches in WM according to their regions. Once the contacts with the churches have been made, the youths’ parents will be asked to write letters authorising the churches to visit and take their children out for their church activities. These letters will be presented to the appropriate authorities, such as college wardens or employers, to secure their cooperation.
On WM side, BM churches here will also meet to identify the colleges, universities and workplaces with high concentration of EM youths, and make greater efforts to locate them. Finally, NECF will list out the specific problems faced by the various groups of EM youths – such as students, factory workers and supermarket workers – and circulate the information to all BM churches to raise awareness of the issues.