I recall this story that happened during university days in our Christian fellowship, and I thought that I’d share it with you since I think it’s pretty hillarious.
But first of all, let me begin by stating that Malaysia’s national language is Bahasa Malaysia, and the second language is English. I went to a school in which the medium of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia, and there are schools where the medium of instruction is English, or for the vernacular schools, in Mandarin or Tamil.
The university I went to was University Kebangsaan Malaysia (thereafter UKM), a government-owned university. There, many students from all parts of Malaysia (we’ve also international students) come to take up the many courses on offer. And of course, universities anywhere would have the clubs and the extra activities on the sides that makes up the part and parcel of the lives of the student.
As a Christian, naturally I would join the Christian fellowship in UKM, named PERKEB (God bless them, hope they are doing well in UKM). In this fellowship, students would take turns to do various things, like preparing the flyers, bringing the necessary equipments, saying a word of opening prayer, leading the brief period of singspiration, cleaning up, etc…
Now here comes the funny part. I remember a guy (an ex-housemate of mine actually) who, in all his Christian life, only prayed in English. PERKEB, however, conducts its fellowship in Bahasa Malaysia. But all members, as far as I can recall, are game to try to participate as much as possible in it, prayer included. Of course, you lose the natural flow of praying in the language you know best, but in respect to the national language, we don’t see it as a big problem.
So back to this friend of mine. He was chosen to start one of the weekly sessions with a word of prayer (he was informed a week before). If my memory serves me well, that week, he was walking about in the house practising his prayer in Bahasa Malaysia; obviously he was nervous and wouldn’t want to make any silly statement at the start of the session. It was great anyway, that he didn’t back down from the ‘challenge’.
Then the day arrived. Students started coming to the hall where we gathered every week; everyone was happy and buzzing because it was Friday and the weekend is near. This friend of mine arrived early, took his place at one of the seats, smiling and grinning, and I can see that he is still going through the prayer in his mind.
Time to start the session. The president of the fellowship announced to all to be seated, and then invited my friend to begin the session with a word of thanksgiving. He stood up, walked towards the lectern, faced the crowd, and then started with… BAPA SAUDARA-KU DI SYURGA… (Our Uncle in heaven).
The rest, they say, is history.