Press Release – April 4, 2017: Fifty Days After, Prayer Service

4th Apr 2017

Fifty Days Since Raymond Koh’s Abduction: Malaysian Churches Come Together at Prayer Service

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia – 4 April 2017 – It has been 50 days since the 13 February morning when Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted, after being forced off a public road while driving in a residential suburb of Petaling Jaya. The abduction was executed by a large group of men in a convoy of cars in less than 60 seconds, according to CCTV footage. To date, Pastor Raymond remains missing and the identities of his abductors and their accomplices remain a mystery.

Today, in solidarity and support for Pastor Raymond and his family, Malaysian Christians from across denominations united in fellowship at a special ecumenical two-hour evening prayer service held at the Sungai Way-Subang Methodist Church (SSMC) in Petaling Jaya, Selangor at 8:30pm. The service was jointly organised by SSMC with the Evangelical Free Church of Malaysia (EFCM).

Leading the prayer service was a shared effort by a large group of senior Malaysian church leaders, with a programme that included a specially written ecumenical liturgy, scripture readings, intercessory prayers, Christian music performances and sharing from Pastor Raymond’s family.

SSMC’s pastor Rev. Dr. Ng Swee Ming, who hosted and led the service, explained the reasons why this service was organised. “Since Raymond was abducted, there has been a spontaneous outpouring of concern, sadness and fear across the nation, whether in the press, in social media or in the streets at numerous candlelight vigils. After 50 days, we are still in the dark about what happened to him. This service is meant to bring much needed comfort to and support for Raymond’s family, his friends, his colleagues and also many Christians who are perplexed, even genuinely fearful because of what happened and what it means to the continued freedom of religion in this nation.”

Other participating leaders in the service included the heads of the Methodist, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches of Malaysia; as well as senior leaders, pastors and representatives from other denominations.

The Most Rev. Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and head of the Catholic Church of Malaysia, called for churches to unite in support of the missing pastor and his family. “In coming together to pray as one, we are following a crucial teaching of Jesus, which is that we are all brothers and sisters, bound together by bonds of faith and love. This bond extends to our missing brother Raymond especially.”

This was reiterated by the Most Rev. Datuk Ng Moon Hing, Archbishop of South East Asia for the Anglican Church: “The churches in Malaysia are very concerned about our abducted brother Raymond Koh, and many of our flock need comfort and assurance from church leadership.”

In sharing his reflections during the service, Bishop Dr Ong Hwai Teik, head of the Methodist Church of Malaysia, urged for all to not give in to despair, despite the circumstances. He said: “We must never take ourselves to a place beyond hope; because even in the worst of outcomes, our faith teaches us that God does not abandon us. And no matter what, we will not abandon Raymond.”

During the service, Raymond’s wife Susanna Liew addressed the audience with a heartfelt plea for answers about her husband’s abduction. “My children and I need to know where he is, and if he is well. I want to know why he was snatched from us this way, and who is behind this. After 50 days of silence, does anyone question why I am crying for answers? For justice?” she said, while adding: “And yet, in all this despair, I am comforted by the support shown to me by so many Malaysians from all races and religions. I find strength in this beautiful nation of ours and in the power that comes from our diversity.”

Raymond Koh’s three children Jonathan, Esther and Elizabeth also participated in the service. Esther and Elizabeth delivered a moving rendition of a poem ‘Where is Raymond Koh?’ in English and Malay. The poem was written by a close friend of the family.

The service also featured music performances by faith-based music groups SIB PJ Worship Team and Element.

Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri, General Secretary of the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM), said a closing prayer for reconciliation, healing and a unity of purpose: “We pray for peace and justice, and for God to bless us all with a boldness of spirit and unity of purpose to achieve this peace and justice.”

Closing off the service was a rousing rendition of ‘Sejahtera Malaysia’, a popular Malaysian patriotic song by all those attending.