What brings students and professors from five continents, 10+ countries together in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia? BGU’s current overture! I never thought I would learn so much about globalization and diversity during that 2-week 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 Oláh, living and working in Budapest, Hungary. I started my BGU DTL journey in the fall of 2017, and this is my second semester. Besides my studies, I am the Online Communication Coordinator for BGU, which means I do work on BGU’s social media, the website, and the newsletters.
I am just one of the many diverse faces smiling in the pictures from the KL Overture. Together with my classmates, professors, and speakers, no race, color, natinality, or background made a real difference between us. We all represent God’s image and love in this Earth, and our conversations, classes, and site visits continually made it clear to us that differences do not separate, but discovering similarities connects us!
Our classwork took place at the UCSI University campus, which is rated among the top colleges in Asia and is still growing! 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 education. Nowadays, foreign students arrive at 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 His call and answer with courage and hope.
The immersion class was led by Dr. Steve Coe and Dr. Kah Hooi Lim, professors who created a family-like open athmosphere. They invited numerous local speakers representing government, business, non-profit, and church. We learned about Malaysia: its history, politics, and economy. Christanity arrived to the region in the 17th century through the Portugese whose early church is still standing on the top of Melaka city. The Catholic influence was changed 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 among the 65% of Muslims. Although active evangelization is prohibitted, churches grow in numbers of members, services, and mission activites. We participated in the Sunday service in the DUMC church, which is one of the biggest evangelical churches serving the community of 5000 members in seven different languages! Days before Daniel Ho, senior pastor and founder, spoke in our class, and church service 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 humour: ”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 speed 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 nine other countries in 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 slogan says: “Malaysia is true Asia” meaning that the country represents all parts of the continent. The country’s population is formed by Malays, Chinese, and Indians 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 pastery. 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 were able to see. I never thought before that I would be able to 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 were fully immersed into Malaysia with our culture, taste, emotion, and mind. We were immersed, personally transformed, inspired, and moved out of our comfort zone. And this transformation continues even after we return to our home, family, and work, but with a different heart and mind. Transformation means change. It starts with ourself, affects our neigborhood, and will reach the world. Let us come back and see where this will lead. Maybe toward a common project that 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 from other students in 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 Overture 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 reckon 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 Overture 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