Mic test 1-2-3 ... Thanks Jen Lemen for the invite ... I hope my participation in the conversation here would be helpful :-)
Hi my name is Sivin Kit, I am a man of one wife and the father of one son with another youngster still in May Chin (my wife's tummy *grin*). I'm from the not so well known country Malaysia (unless we made any international news lately). I am serving as a Pastor in Kuala Lumpur, the capital. Our church Bangsar Lutheran Church just celebrated our 4th year anniversary since starting on April fool's day 2000 in my house! Oh yes ... I'll be stepping into the 32 year old room in October. That should be enough for now. I'm starting to sound a bit too formal ...
I've always not been a very good critique ... and it took me ages to write the book review for one of Brian's earlier books - The Church on the Other Side (which I think is great and extremely helpful!) So, I kind of decided to approach it more like a conversation allowing what I read to spark whatever reflections I have personally and more specifically re-looking at my own context here in Muslim majority Malaysia where Christians are probably 11% of the population according to the latest census.
Thanks to the sample chapter I can start even before the book arrives. But, before engaging Brian I had loads of stuff bubbling even with John R. Franke's Foreword. I use the page numbers to guide me.
Page 1 - On the reality of change ...
On this side of heaven , we've definately have a similar sense that the world we have known is changing as well. For Malaysia, we got our independence in 1957 from the British, and we were colonized by the Portugese, the Dutch and for short two years under Japanese occupation. all this within about the last 500 years. On top of this, there's this whole modernisation and economic development especially the last 20 years or so, not forgetting the reality of Islamization in the public square, the co-existence of multiple world religions and folk religions, and of course the internet revolution, globalisation, and other influences especially the media, etc.
As far as Christianity is concerned, I think different strands also have co-existed as well, and we work together often on common issues. And in general, most if not all of the denominations are pretty much "conservative" Evangelical in outlook from those associated with the council of churches Malaysia (which consists of the mainline denominations, e.g. Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, etc) and those connected with the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship. Charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity would probably be the fasted growing group the past years but then again even the mainline churches have been impacted too. I don't know enough to comment on the Roman Catholic situation apart form the fact there is a Christian Federation Malaysia where all three Christian groups are united in one voice as far as issues relating to the Government is concernd. So, working together I think we've been doing it for quite well but on the ground level I'm not too sure whether there's a strong sense of mutal appreciation. many of my local church pastor friends though maybe open to dialogue with someone different but at times there are still some suspicion, lack of understanding and indepth mutual appreciation.
Our struggle here on one hand the outside we have always wreslted with our Christianity can be rooted in our soil (which we still have a long way to go) and then there's this "moving tectonic" changes going on as well globally (phew!) On the other hand, on the inside we are either busy doing ministry with passion for church or making a living for others while still plagued by fragmentation and a lack of integration not just at a practical level but more so at the reflective or "paradigm"/thinking level. (I don't mean to vent on my Western brothers and sisters here) At times we import your quarrels or it gets exported to us historically or influentially, And often (maybe) because we don't spend the time to distinguish the issues or have too much on our plate - that we must be responsible ourselves, We get drawn into battles that sap our must needed "constructive" energies. Thus, the blame game isn't helpful. It's very much time for us to "focus" our thinking and doing ... and start building genuine bridges not only amongst ourselves (that's where Brian's book maybe of some help) as well as seeing how Christians in the west face the changes, but also build a connection across borders (with the help of the internet .. this would be easier at least for me). So, Thanks Jen again for the chance ... I hope this is a helpful start from my end of the earth :-)