During our recent East Coast trip, we spent 3 nights in the State of Kelantan. Located on the north-eastern part of the Peninsular Malaysia bordering southern Thailand, Kelantan is one of the poorest states in Malaysia. It is presently under the rule of the conservative opposition Islamic party known as PAS. It is also my home state - I was born in Kota Bharu, the state capital; and that makes me an anok kelate.
Known as the Cradle of Islamic Civilisation, Kelantan has a population of approximately 1.5 million where the large majority are Muslims (over 94.5%).
What about the Christian presence in Kelantan? What is the state of the church?
A very small minority of Christians (less than 0.2%) live in Kelantan. In a recent article (March-April 2008 issue) Berita NECF reports the following about the state of the church in Kelantan:
"Churches are few and are confined to urban areas with a high proportion of Chinese, such as Kota Bharu. There is a serious lack of leadership and church growth has been slow. Some churches do not have full-time pastors and depend on full-time workers from outside Kelantan."
"The turnover rate for full-time workers is said to be quite high. The outflow of young people can be a source of discouragement."
"There is generally a lack of passion for the lost, and a need for local leaders to be trained and empowered not only to lead their congregations but also in evangelism."
"As a whole, the Church is lacking of manpower and resources. Much effort is also needed for unity among different denominations. Certain parts of Kelantan, especially the rural areas are totally devoid of any Christian witness."
For further reading of a recent brief write-up on the state of Kelantan by National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), please click here.