I was driving a tiny lime green car with four of my team in the back. As we followed our hosts' white four-seater down a long and desperately beautiful road, passing turquoise and yellow homes, banana trees and cows tied-up to the side at random, I couldn't help but tear-up.
How is it that my God chose me to go on these amazing adventures?
We were going on a prayer drive in the country surrounding the small city of Mukah in Sarawak. That week we joined a pastor and his wife in their ministry to the Iban people of Borneo, a native people group on the island. As we stopped in front of longhouses (homes where Iban people live in community- literally, a very long house) and prayed for restoration, freedom and unity, I became overwhelmed by God's desire for that nation.
Stopping in front of an old dilapidated bright blue church I wasn't saddened that nobody could attend this destroyed building, I was filled with the hope and joy that one day it would be restored and overflowing with families from longhouses all around; not because of a physical restoration of four walls but because God is going to restore that nation.
And I was so lucky to have a tiny part in the restoration of Malaysia for seven weeks.
Malaysia for me was a time to fall in love again with missions. Not that I have ever fallen out of love with it, but it was one of those times where I could see His heart for the nations and the outpouring of His love on the people and I couldn't help but plunge deeper into a desire to see the territory of that love expand.
Sometimes in my work I have been busy doing the behind-the-scenes of short-term missions- paperwork, research, teaching and more paperwork- that I can often acquire tunnel-vision and forget why I am doing what I am doing. Malaysia reminded me.
I am here so that people can go to new cultures, experience really weird food and see things they never dreamed of. But more than that, I am here to see those people go into the nations and call out God's purpose in them, show them they have a Father that loves them and equip them to do the same for their neighbours, families and enemies.
While in Malaysia, I got to do just that.
We spent the first five weeks of our trip in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. There we stayed in the state capital, Kuching, and built relationships with the youth and encouraged them in their dreams and relationship with the Lord, did some farming work, led church services, prayed over the nation, and befriended children in a small slum nearby our house. We also spent a week in Mukah as I mentioned above. There we went to longhouses and prayed over families, shared testimonies, danced, encouraged university students and got to experience Iban culture- river showers, interesting food, new language and all.
The last two weeks of our trip we went to the small island of Penang in West Malaysia. Georgetown in Penang is a lot more touristy than Kuching and we were able to spend our time at YWAM Penang there. While there we got to spend time at a homeless shelter run by the base, a thrift shop that supports that shelter, help kids with English tuition, pray over the city at the International House of Prayer, run kids programs, help at an evangelical rock climbing club (yes, that exists) and see God's equally massive heart for West Malaysia.
Malaysia is a country that has unique possibility. Though it is an Islamic nation, I have never before seen so many cultures living side-by-side. To be a Malaysian isn't to be Indian or Chinese or Iban, it is to be all of the above and that was truly beautiful to see. It was a small glimpse of what the Kingdom could look like- many cultures doing life together without strife.
One day, Malaysia is going to come into God's calling for it. The youth are going to rise up and families are going to be restored. I am just lucky to have been allowed to be a smart part in that greater plan.
Written for www.kimboswell.weebly.com