From the ends of Malaya, 315 missionaries and national workers (about 60 per cent of the Christian leadership) gathered July 7–10 for the All-Malaya Christian Workers Conference sponsored by World Vision, the Malayan Christian Council and the Central Malaya Christian Churches. Although Malaya is one of Asia’s oldest centers of Christian activity, after a century of modern missions its Protestant church membership lags at only 30,000.

Only one in 18,000 is a convert. The deepest problem facing the Christian witness in Malaya was dramatized by the absence from the Port Dickson conference of all Malays, who number more than 3 million of the 6,250,000 population. The religious fate of the Malays was virtually sealed, and Christian penetration ruled out, when the British empire, as a price for its colonial foothold, promised protection of Malay religion and custom, intrinsically Moslem. Although Malaya is in the United Nations, national punishment by fine or imprisonment for distribution of non-Moslem literature precludes signing the UN Declaration of Human Rights which stipulates religious freedom. Moslems dominate the government, and some observers regard their pressures “from the right” politically as potentially explosive in Southeast Asia as communist pressures. Religiously, Malayan Moslemism is not virile, often blending with animism and Hinduism. But it remains politically powerful. Any convert to Christianity would be cut off by family and friends, would be disinherited and his life might be endangered. A foreign missionary baptizing such a convert faces deportation by the government.

Under these circumstances Malayan Christians minister effectively only to the large population of aliens. The 200 ...

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