Kuala Lumpur Immersion - A report from May 2018

What brings students and professors from five continents, 10+ countries together in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia? BGU’s current immersion! Never thought I will learn so much about globalization and diversity during the 2 weeks of immersion, but I did.

„People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29)

My name is Krisztina Olah, I live and work in Budapest, Hungary. I started my BGU DTL journey in the fall of 2017, this is my second semester. Besides my studies, I am the Online Communication Coordinator for BGU, I work on social media, the website, and the email newsletters.

I am one of the diverse faces smiling on the pictures together with my classmates, professors, and speakers, where no race, color, nationality, or background makes a real difference between us. We all represent God’s image and love in this Earth, and our conversations, classes, trips just made it clear to us that differences do not separate, but discovering similarities connect us!

Our classwork took place at UCSI University campus in Kuala Lumpur which is rated among the top colleges in Asia and is still on the grow! The school was started by Peter Ng after he became a Christian. His main goal was to establish high-quality education in Malaysia where young people usually travel overseas to get a good degree. Nowadays, foreign students arrive in Kuala Lumpur and study engineering, music, or economics at this fantastic, developing school – just like us! Peter’s and the university’s story represent how God inspires local believers who are ready to hear the calling and answer with courage and hope.

The immersion class was led by Professor Dr. Steve Coe and Dr. Kah Hooi Lim who created a family-like open atmosphere. They invited numerous local speakers representing government, business, non-profit, and church organizations. We learned about Malaysia: its history, politics, and economy. Christianity arrived to the region in the 17th century through the Portuguese whose early church is still standing on the top of Melaka city. The Catholic influence was challenged by the Dutch who represented the Protestant church. Finally, the British governed the country until 1957 when the modern nation of Malaysia became independent.

Today, Malaysia has around 30 million people and 9,2% are Christians while the majority (some 65%) are Muslims. Although active evangelization is prohibited, churches grow in number of members, services, and mission activities. We have participated at the Sunday sermon in DUMC church which is one of the biggest evangelical churches serving the community of 5000 members in seven different languages!

Days before that Sunday sermon, Daniel Ho, senior pastor and founder spoke in our class. After the sermon, several church ministry leaders introduced us to their missionary work among the drug-addicts, refugees, and the youth. This church is a great example of holistic mission and living by faith. As Chris Kam, senior pastor summarized with humor: „DUMC means: Do Not Underestimate Mission church!”

While travelling in the city of Kuala Lumpur, we saw huge construction sites where cranes work rapidly, 40+ story buildings emerge, and new highways and train lines are built. Our guest speakers helped us to better understand the current developments in the country. Malaysia is member of ASEAN, Association of South-East Asian Nations together with other 9 countries of the region. We learned about the One Belt One Road initiative which is originated in China and connects 60+ countries through Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The country's slogan says: „Malaysia is true Asia” meaning that the country represents all parts of the Asian continent. The country’s population is formed by Malays, Chinese, and Indian people who bring here their culture, food, and spirituality. People speak several languages, English is commonly used and became an important tool of cooperation. We had the chance to eat as much as we could and tried as many different dishes as possible. „Malaysia is about eating” – mentioned Felicia Ang, our local classmate and we understood it after our first dinner where we tasted spicy soups, meat sticks (satay), rice, vegetables, freshly pressed fruit juices, and local pastry. Felicia provided some extra credit for me: while I shared a room with her we had the chance to continue our discussions even after the daily classwork. Felicia became my personal servant leader who helped me to immerse deeply in the Malaysian culture!

It is impossible to describe or even mention all the organizations we visited, the speakers we were inspired by, or the places we’ve been at. I never thought before that I will participate in a worship service of a construction company where colleagues sing and pray together and start the office work this way. Or listen to speakers who face the challenges of corruption and bribery but represent strong biblical values which made their companies become market leaders. Or visit a school of refugee kids, where the love of Christ works without mentioning His name and could serve the poor, the needy, the oppressed.

My favorite word of the trip became immersion. We’ve been fully immersed into Malaysia with the culture, taste, emotion, and mind. We’ve immersed, we’ve been personally transformed, inspired, and moved out of our comfort zone. And this transformation continues while we returned to our home, family, and work, but with a different heart and mind. Transformation means change. It starts with ourself, affects our neighborhood, and will reach the world. Let us come back and see where this will lead. Maybe toward a common project which will connect the students from several countries or toward a meeting next year in Europe, in my home country where we could follow-up our experiences?

„To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3)

Krisztina Olah, DTL

Here are some quotes of students of the class.

„The KL immersion experience was life-changing for me. I saw how the love of Christ can change hearts, communities, cities, and countries because of individuals wanting to know Him more.” (Janine, Ivory Coast)

„My experience in KL immersion program was so amazing and very impactful. I have seen how Malaysian Christian Business men and women are running their business in a way that Glorify God and transform communities. I have witnessed the amazing impact of applying Biblical principles not just inside the church buildings but in a business and market places.” (Hailu, Ethiopia)

„It was encouraging to hear of the many stories of how Malaysians are practicing Shalom leadership and encouraging others to return home to be 'Salt and Light', after leaving the country, as a result of feelings of being in exile for years, to experience the 'New Malaysia' Grateful to God and BGU for the opportunity to have been exposed to such excellent examples of the Christ centered transformational perspectives we are learning about in the classroom.” (Robbie, USA)

„Having been away for more than a decade, the KL Immersion got me reacquainted to see, hear and learn how God is moving in Malaysia...which humbled me to witness His faithfulness in the many lives of transformational leaders who are living out the 8 perspectives of Transformational Leadership; and placing Malaysia to be a nation to be reckoned with innovative transformational individuals, organizations and ideas!” (Felicia, Malaysia)

„For me KL class was the practical demonstration of transformational leadership  in the market place. I have seen Jesus transforming lives using the transformed lives. Huge focus on transformation.” (Bekele, Ethiopia)

„The KL Immersion rests with me as a simply beautiful, cultural, Immersion  experience in which God confirmed His calling for me to be in the market place ministry for His glory. Certainly, the exploration of  transformational leadership has captured my attention even more and I see the perspectives as a global solution.” (Tesha, Jamaica)

„The KL Immersion was a very close and insightful look at God’s hand in the life of yielded believer’s. I went into the immersion open to see, hear and understand, willing unlearn so I could relearn and gain wisdom from a place outside of hearsay. I realize not knowing what we don’t know can be blocking potential to do so much more. The experience left me grateful, enlightened and compelled to transform even more. Leadership is influencing change for the better!” (TJ, Georgia, USA)