Malaysian Lutherans make their single largest donation to overseas aid work

After the earthquake in Nepal, local villager searches for cooking utensils in the debris.  Photo:  LWF/C.Kaestner
After the earthquake in Nepal, local villager searches for cooking utensils in the debris. Photo: LWF/C.Kaestner

GENEVA, 2 November 2015 (LWI) - Lutherans in Malaysia have opened their hearts to the people of Nepal with a significant cash donation for The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) relief work.

The church has given just over USD 17,000 to help re-build Nepal, hit by a 7.8 earthquake on 25 April. It is the single largest amount the Malaysian church has donated to overseas disaster relief work.

Bishop Aaron Chuan Ching Yap of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia wrote to pastors and congregations and used social media to dedicate a Sunday for special offering towards the appeal.

For believers, everyone is a brother and sister in Christ, he wrote. “We will try to support in whatever small way we can. Relief work is a common witness that benefits believers and non-believers, regardless of faith or skin color.”

Malaysians have a particular concern for the people of Nepal. The church has ministry and work among the many Nepali migrant workers in the country. “God has brought this mission work right in front of our door step,” Yap said.

The church has previously supported disaster relief work through the Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church, as well as emergency response in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan two years ago, as well as in Myanmar and Sumatra (Indonesia).

Besides proclaiming the gospel, the church pursues local mission in Malaysia among indigenous Malay (orang asli), as well as migrant workers from China, Myanmar and Nepal. It carries out work and ministry in orphanages, rest homes for the elderly, mobile health clinics and pre-schools.

Global solidarity from Lutheran churches

LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge described the donation as significant. “It conveys once more that our being together as a communion of churches blurs the lines and borders between those having and not having.”

He said “This donation is an expression of this mutuality which we see ahead of us. We rejoice every time it becomes a reality among us.”

The LWF sees more enthusiasm and interest by churches globally to join its diaconal—or service—efforts. Assistance is no longer restricted to churches from the global North. Churches from developing countries increasingly support relief work of fellow churches or the LWF in the global South.

The Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil offers a Sunday collection for the LWF-run Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem; African churches pulled together to support sister churches affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa; and the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa supported the LWF program to alleviate drought in Namibia.

The identity of the LWF as a global communion of churches is manifested through its call to serve the suffering neighbour. “Our togetherness is not an end in itself. Our togetherness is for the sake of the world,” Junge said.

Junge said he was pleased the LWF offered a channel for the church in Malaysia to express its diaconal concern for the people of Nepal. He was grateful for the generosity and was encouraged that the vision of being a communion of churches that lives and works together for a just, peaceful and reconciled world has found another “beautiful expression.”

Prayers from churches were still needed, he said, remembering both the people in Nepal and those working among them. He encourages churches to keep supporting each other financially.

The local LWF team was one of the first to respond to the earthquake. The LWF program in Nepal is appealing for just over USD 6 million for emergency and permanent shelter materials, water and sanitation facilities, psycho-social support, food and other relief goods.

This diaconal expression—the Christian perspective of social work and disaster response—is one of many expressions of solidarity in Asia during crises. During the Tsunami in Japan in 2011, many churches in the region contributed, with the largest donation of USD 30,000 coming from Lutheran Church in Singapore. Several other churches gave between USD 10,000 and USD 15,000. Following typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in November 2014, the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church gave USD 30,000.

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