The Orang Asli: A village of joy


Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to visit the Orang Asli, an aboriginal tribe of Malaysia. It was a long journey – We took a ferry across to the mainland of Malaysia, then drove for three to four hours, then hiked for a bit. Finally, we arrived.

These aboriginal people were facing extreme poverty, and. Pastor Choo has been doing what she can to help them by delivering goods and supplies. In order to get to the Christian village, we had to pass through a Muslim village. We found out that the people in the Muslim village have been stealing some of the supplies we have been passing onto the Christian village, so Pastor Choo told us that we were going to be giving the Muslim village some supplies today as well. It was one of the first times that Pastor Choo has ever worked with people in the Muslim village, and it was amazing to see how surprised and genuinely thankful they were that we would do this for them. I feel like God has really opened a door into that community due to the generosity of Pastor Choo and her congregation.

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Food and clothing supplies

We then walked down the hill  and waited at the edge of the water for a few minutes, while some of the village men brought the boats across. We hopped in, and then floated across a lake to the Christian village, a tribal people of about 100 whom live on a small peninsula in the Malaysian jungle. The bamboo structures in this village were simple, yet solid. It was incredible to hear about their way of life – the men hunt during the day (mainly monkey and lizards), while the women take care of the children. When we were on the island, I could hardly believe that we were in the year 2013…their way of life was so tribal. And it was truly an honor to be the first white people that had ever been on the island.

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Yet, there was something about the way they lived that I really respected – I believe what intrigues me most is its simplicity. Pastor Choo calls this people Happy Valley Church, and I began to understand why as the children sang songs and danced for us. Each of the children radiated the light of Christ; and mothers seemed to be so genuinely happy and filled with joy, just to be living. I could see Christ all over them!

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I’m reminded of when Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3). The original meaning of the word “poor” in this verse is not just a lack of things. It means someone who is empty, completely dependent on someone else. The people in this village knew that everything came from God, and their day-to-day existence relied completely on their relationship with Him. For this, they were shown the kingdom of heaven, filled with an unexplainable joy unlike anything in this world.

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I wish I could take you, all my American friends, to see this village. We don’t need to have all the stuff to be happy…we’re so mistaken if we think that satisfaction comes from things. Really, all we need is Him. Jesus is the ultimate source of our joy – because only in Him can we be truly satisfied.

Although I can’t take you there in person, the beauty of technology is that you can go to this village of joy on your computer! So sit back, relax, and take in the way of life of the Orang Asli:

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

(Psalm 126: 1-3)

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