DIRECTalk: “El Shaddai”: Providing education for refugee children

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“Do you know how many foreign workers there are in Malaysia? Besides foreign workers working here, do you know that in the past few years, because of humanitarian reasons, our country has also become a temporary place for refugees?”

The director of El Shaddai Centre Malaysia, Andrew Ng, reminded brothers and sisters in Christ that missions does not have to be going overseas to unreached people groups. The foreign workers and refugees coming into our country are also a huge missions field. Brother Ng said that the world population is increasing very fast. According to the records of the United Nations, in 1900 the world population was around 1.7 billion. In 2011, the population had reached 7 billion. In the year 2050, the world population may reach 9.2 billion.

As society develops, the world population also increases quickly, but the number of Christians grows slowly. Some even hypothesize that in the near future, the number of Muslims will overtake the number of Christians. “So the church needs to move with the times. We cannot stay stagnant.

As salt and light we need to go into the darkness, in order to truly bring light.”

7 million foreign workers
According to official statistics, there are around 7 million foreign workers in our country, which is 22% of the population. “Chinese people account for only 23% of the Malaysian population. So the number of foreign workers is almost overtaking the percentage of Chinese people. These workers are potential mission for Christians.”

Besides foreign workers, do you know how many refugees are currently in Malaysia? Brother Ng revealed that now there are around 160,000 refugees. These are the refugees recognized by the United Nations, and there are over 50,000 more not recognized yet.

“Because now European and American countries have stricter regulations for accepting refugees, in some cases even rejecting refugees, these refugees can only remain here, with nowhere to go. But by staying, the refugees also create many problems, especially with education.”

Thus in 2008, the United Nations contacted El Shaddai Centre, hoping to cooperate in providing education for children in refugee camps. “By educating these children, we are provided with the perfect opportunity to share the gospel.”

This special school uses English as the main medium of instruction. Upon graduation, students receive “IGCSE” (International General Certificate of Secondary Education), which is recognized by many universities and businesses all over the world.

“Of course, in the curriculum we add appropriate character building education, to build a good character foundation for them and within that, to allow them to meet God.”

A quality education
At the centre, each student only needs to pay RM60 per month for a quality education in a comfortable environment, even including a full lunch.

At the moment, the centre provides education for children from 18 different countries, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and also African or Rohingya children. From 22 students at the very beginning in 2008 until today in 2019, there are now over 1000 students, with many more on a waiting list. “Because of space and financial reasons, we are unable to accept even more students.”

As for the teaching team, the centre does not require teachers to be Christians, but thankfully, everyone gets along well as a very good team. As mentioned above, the number of foreign workers and refugees is already so high. Then what about international students from Middle Eastern countries? Brother Ng pointed out that according to the official numbers, there are around 20,000 international students in Malaysia.

Brother Ng, who is a member of the Methodist Church, emphasized that the God full of grace and mercy tells us to love our neighbours. But who are our neighbours? And whose neighbours are we? “The church needs to change its mindset. We cannot limit ourselves, we need to move bravely in a new direction.”

National Diaspora Symposium
In 2019, from 26 to 28 September, the 3rd National Diaspora Symposium will be held at the KL Chinese Methodist (Hokkien) Church. As part of the organizing team, Brother Ng invites all brothers and sisters to register so we can all pay attention to diaspora missions.

This symposium is held every two years, previously in 2015 and 2017. This year, the theme is “Diaspora Discipleship Through Local & Global Collaboration”.

He said, the model of missions towards diaspora peoples differs from the traditional missions model in 4 ways, including:
1. In focus – A holistic approach of integrating gospel with charity and contextualization.
2. In concept – Nondenominational, interdisciplinary, non-territorial and reciprocity.
3. In perspective – Borderless, transnational and global.
4. In orientation – Moving targets and moving with the targets.

Changing the missions mindset in these ways are necessary. The symposium has 5 “A” goals:
1. to Aspire to be the body of Christ.
2. to Assist those wanting to participate.
3. to Assemble information and reports.
4. to Assimilate resources and man power through bridges built to relevant fields.
5. to Advocate and be a voice.

The keynote speaker, Dr Kevin Higgin, has many years of missions experience in Africa and South Asia. He is currently the president of William Carey University as well as the General Director of Frontier Ventures.

The symposium has 6 different workshops and sharing by Practitioners. The topics of the 6 workshops vary widely, including
– The Power of Collaboration & Collaborative Leadership
– Cross Cultural Relationship Building
– Missions Opportunity Among International Students
– Beyond Literacy: eveloping a Multimodel Approach in Diaspora Outreach & Engagement
– Sustainable Social Enterprise Model to Serve the Diaspora
– Diaspora Missions: The ECB Model of Networking & Funding. The sharing by Practitioners are about fruitful experiences from all over the country.

In keeping with the theme, the symposium hopes that churches, organizations, and even individuals will join for deeper, more meaningful discussions, and for greater cooperation among local and overseas diaspora training groups, so that in the future we will see the kingdom of God and God’s will done among the diaspora in Malaysia.

To register, please visit, or call 03-33186386 for more information.

Interviewed by Menglei
Recorded by April
Translated by Joy Tie

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