Missional Communities in Malaysia

By Alan Ch'ng

Choo was a typical, hardworking, Malaysian engineer who was nominally Buddhist and highly self-reliant. Living in the populous metropolitan area of Kuala Lumpur, Choo worked with Shiau Yi, a Navigator woman. Over time, Shiau Yi invited Choo to meet her husband, David. Before long, Choo had been embraced by an entire community of Navigators who, like him, were 30-something working professionals.

Choo’s life would never be the same.

The group Choo encountered is a “missional community,” a Christ-centered group of friends which seeks to advance the kingdom of God through relational networks. They are intentional about working together to advance the Gospel among the lost. Although they hold down jobs and raise young children, all of them are focused on serving as local Navigator leaders. They are helping non-believers know Jesus, and equipping young believers to do the same.

Choo first accepted invitations to join the group for dinners and other social gatherings. He sincerely enjoyed the friendships. But for some time he resisted the group’s invitations to join them for Bible discussions.

Eventually, he agreed to look at the Gospel of John with the group. He enjoyed the conversations because they were relevant to his life. The Holy Spirit and God’s Word captured his heart. After two years of thoughtful study, Choo entrusted his life to Christ. Not long after, his wife joined him in that decision.

Choo says his decision was influenced by the hope-filled lives of his Navigator friends. He experienced the genuine love and grace of the group, and he saw first-hand the quality of their relationships. He witnessed the difference Christ made in their marriages.

Living in God’s grace was not easy at first. Choo thought that he would be required to fulfill “good works” in order to be accepted by God. For example, at a conference, leaders spoke on the Navigator Calling, Values and Vision statements. Hearing this for the first time, Choo became worried that he would have to fulfill everything in those statements in order to be accepted by God and the group!

Thankfully, he shared this struggle with a friend in the Navigator group. The friend showed Choo what Jesus said in John 8:32: If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Choo realized that Jesus’ acceptance of him was not based on keeping rules or performance; yes, he was called to live fully for Christ. But the truth of God’s grace had set him free.

Choo’s Navigator friends have continued to help him grow as one equipped to handle the Word of God and to share his faith with others. Today, Choo and his wife, Yoke Chien, are active participants in the “missional community.” He is investing his life with many young adults and youth, and sharing the Gospel with his close friends from college and work.

In a beautiful display of God’s work through spiritual generations, Choo and Yoke Chien have led his college friend, Yew Lee and his wife, Lay Mee, to Christ. Choo and Yoke Chien are now discipling them and helping them to reach out to their own network of friends.

This missional community in Malaysia is advancing the kingdom of God through relational networks as a body, not just as individuals. As non-believers come into their midst, they become connected to a whole community of Christ-followers. Within this rich relational context, the multifaceted gifting of the Body of Christ is more fully expressed. The entire community plays a role in helping new believers grow.

The local leaders in this Malaysian work are also committed to their own personal growth as leaders. Most have committed to participating in a leader development effort.

We have a lot to learn from our Malaysian brothers and sisters. Their model shows us that any person can be actively engaged in advancing the Gospel as part of a local community. As you pray for the Navigator work in Malaysia, consider ways to apply what our Malaysian friends are learning in your own context.    

Alan Ch’ng is an International Vice President. Before joining the International Executive Team, Alan led our Asia Pacific Region for more than six years. Alan and his wife, Connie, moved to Colorado Springs in April 2013. They have three grown sons.