Malaysian, Christian…and Gay

I visited three churches here in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, and I shared a message at each. The first, Tabernacle of Shalom, is a Tamil-speaking emergent church. The second, Eternal Harvest Center, is a Tamil- and English-speaking Pentecostal church, and the third, Good Samaritan, is a church for GLBT persons.

The wonderful people of Good Samaritan Kuala Lumpur

In fact, it’s the only GLBT-friendly church in this entire country.

Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy, but it is both religiously and politically dominated by Malays, who are Muslim. (In fact, Malays are required by law to be Muslim.) While homosexuality, per se, is not illegal, homosexual sex acts are, and those laws are enforced.

Homosexuality was unheard of in the minority Christian church here for many years (Christians are 5-10% of the population). But in 2006, prominent pastor Ouyang Wen Feng came out with his book, Is Now the Future? An Asian Gay Man’s Coming Out Journey. That book, and Ouyang’s outspokenness, caused a huge stir in the Christian church here, but Ouyang moved to New York City, where he  got married and still lives.

Meanwhile, Joe Pang was a seminary graduate and a youth pastor at a Baptist church. When his senior pastor asked if he was gay, he said yes. He was fired on the spot.

Joe had already started a support group for gay Christians that met at KFC. Having been fired and excommunicated from the Baptist church, Joe and the support group transitioned into a church. They’ve moved a few times, including meeting in cafes, before landing in the spot they are now: in a hard-to-find space in the third floor of a back building of a furniture mall. There’s no way I would have found it without bumping into a church member (Felix) in the mall who recognized me.

They worship at 2pm on Sunday, Joe told me, because “all the gays go clubbing on Saturday night.” As you can see in the photo, about a dozen were in attendance when I went on Sunday, although a few opted not to be in the photo because the stigma of being gay in this culture is enormous.

-continue reading at  Malaysian, Christian…and Gay.

The wonderful logo from the Good Samaritans website

The wonderful logo from the Good Samaritans website

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