A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Evangelizing the Malay Bush People

Christy Arokiasamy

Christy Arokiasamy

Meet a remarkable layman, Christy Arokiasamy, who has given up his job at de Montfort Boys Town in Kuala Lumpur and gone to live with the Sengoi bush people of Malaysia. These ‘pioneer’ people have lived in and off the highland bush lands for centuries. Christy felt drawn to live with them and gradually introduce them to the Catholic faith. He is into the task of primary evangelization. So what made him give up city life and take to the bush?

“French missionaries and a few local diocesan priests were instrumental in the path that I have taken. Journeying with a Catholic priest, who works closely with many tribal people within Malaysia, gave me the impetus to respond to the needs of the tribal community, who are largely ostracized by the government”.

Over the past four years he made visits to a particular village in the Cameron heights and was gradually accepted by them. He said they live a nomadic life and toil in the hills for their food. They live on tapioca, bananas, birds, wild animals and fish caught in the streams. Though illiterate, they are rich with love. They share their resources and live harmoniously.

Cooking indoors in Malay home

Cooking indoors in Malay home

A lay Methodist introduced them to the Gospel some fifteen years ago. But in spite of no follow-up, they gather every evening to praise and give thanks to the Living God for all their blessings, offer their daily needs to Him and plead for His protection.

Christy asked for a place to live and where the community of about 50 could gather and be ‘Silent with God’. Once the tribal elders agreed, both the men and women folk got together to erect the hut using materials totally sourced from the jungle. They had to climb the surrounding mountains in search of wood, bamboo and attap leaves as early as 5.00 in the morning for close to 3 weeks. An amazingly strong and well engineered ‘Mission Hut’ was born, good for cooking, feasting and meetings, as we experienced when we arrived late in the day at the village.

Christy has a brother a priest. He is Fr Michael, who is the National Director of the Pope’s Mission Societies in Malaysia as well as running a large city parish. He also finds time for mission outreach to the neediest. In June he made the two hour march into the bush to officially bless the Mission Hut and also to celebrate the first Mass among these Orangi Asli people. A two hour prayer time concluded with individual adult anointing along with preaching that was translated by Christy, who is now fluent in this ancient language.

He sums up his missionary hopes -Feeding Baby

“By my living and witness, I try to bring them the beauty and the richness of the Catholic faith; telling them of our beloved Mother Mary and her role in the plan of redemption, the lives of the Saints and the importance of the Eucharist”.

Such missionary zeal enflames the hearts of all true missionaries and challenges us to be as generous and committed as he is. While October is rugby World Cup month and may grab much media attention let us not overlook the fact that it is World Mission Month; the time of the year we depth a little more the words of Pope Paul VI “Being missionary is the grace and vocation proper to the Church it is her deepest identity”. Christy is living it out – how are you?

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