Sabah Council of Churches' Press Statement on PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s statement saying that Christian missionaries were using money and aid to convert people in Sabah and Sarawak

We are disheartened by Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s provocative statement as it is simply false and untrue. Since the days when Christian missionaries first came to Sabah up until today, we have not witnessed nor heard of any incidences of bribery or inducements of any form to lure our people to convert into Christianity. It is obvious that Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s statement reflects his ignorance of the central tenets of Christianity. Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour came to offer the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8). Further He commanded us not to “lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19,20) The Christian pioneering missionaries in both Sabah and Sarawak made huge personal sacrifices and endured hardships because they heeded the call of Matthew 5:16, which commands every Christian thus: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Their unconditional efforts have contributed to our nation-building and their works have always been transparent and centred on three major areas – the church, hospitals and schools. All three have proven to be successful without any report of bribery or inducements for converting to Christianity.

In Sarawak, the efforts of the pioneering missionaries in the then remote parts of the Sarawak jungles had brought much needed healthcare and education to the Lunbawang tribe. It was their sacrificial efforts which contributed to the Lunbawang’s survival.

Further, in terms of education, our prominent leaders at various levels of society have benefited from mission schools. If Datuk Seri Hadi Awang would have cared to read the profile of our Chief Minister in the official Sabah State Government website, he would have noticed that our Chief Minister’s attended mission schools for his primary and secondary education.

One of the hallmarks of Christianity is freedom. In 1 Peter 2:16, the word says “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” Freedom is a wonderful gift each of us carries in our hearts as Christians. It is a gift of choice - that is the truth we hold about life at any moment. Christians believe that the ability to choose new beliefs, thoughts and feelings are at a person’s own discretion.

Therefore, accusing Christian missionaries of using money and aid for people to convert to Christianity is grossly irresponsible as firstly, such a practice is clearly against our beliefs. As Christians, cheating and bribery, inducements and compulsion are not justifiable and simply, are sins. Secondly, the objective of such a statement clearly is to ignite religious sectarianism and create discord and hatred amongst our people. This is obviously against the spirit of unity and harmony of our people and that of the foundation of our nation.

May we all as peace loving and moderate Malaysians strive to build a prosperous and peaceful Malaysia for the benefit of all. Let us not be filled with hatred and suspicion for one another.

God Bless Sabah and Malaysia!

Rev. Datuk Jerry WA Dusing
President, Sabah Council of Churches
23 January 2016