22 August 2014 by Jason Law CM –
Even as Christians, we are often still susceptible to weaknesses and sometimes we stumble in our Christian walk. While we have a perfect Father and Lord, we are still very much creatures of our flesh. It is the reason why the Word of God is so important to our lives.
No Christian would dispute the primacy of the Bible as the direct revelation from God, and thus the guiding light for our lives. But Christian materials such as devotionals serve a valuable purpose; they provide a certain structure on studying the Bible, while books on Christian History give us an understanding of who we are as a people.
Many Christian books, including classics like ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ and the poems of John Donne, as well as those with Christian motifs like John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ are highly respected even by the secular world. Many Christians have been shaped, however, to think that quality Christian books or materials only come from the West.
There is nothing wrong with this. I have many favourite Christian writers that are from the West as well; C.S. Lewis, Philip Yancey, and Erwin McManus, among others. But what many of us may not realize is that we do have a vibrant Christian writers’ landscape within our own nation. These books can be found in various topics and styles. Some of the books that have been produced locally are :
Be One Just As We Are One by Eric Teoh
(99 pages, Published by Akitiara Corporation Sdn Bhd)
This book is broken into 3 sections. The first section speaks about the will of God. It gives Christians a vision, and the principles upon which the vision can be implemented. The second section speaks about life as a race and how to start right as a believer. The third and final section speaks about God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It provides crucial understanding of who God is.
In his preface, Eric shared that the purpose he wrote the book was not to talk about keeping the law. Neither is it about grace. He explains that the reason he wrote the book is to talk about having the love of God and expressing it. Eric’s hope is that we understand this love, have it within us, and know how to have it expressed through our lives. The book also makes the important call of understanding what it means to love God and one another, and how to be ONE in the family and community.
Let My Grief Comfort You by Khoo Kheng-Hor
(130 pages; Published By Chronicle Books, an imprint of Pelanduk Publications Sdn Bhd)
Most Malaysians would recognize the name of Khoo Kheng-Hor. Khoo is the writer of many books that were a sensation when they were first published a few years back. Some of these are Mamasan, Nanyang, and Taikor. Khoo is also a Christian, and in this book, he shared the personal and intimate story of his recovery from grief after the death of his wife.
In the introduction, he wrote that an inspiration that helped him to write this book was C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed. This is a sometimes painful book (as is inevitable for one dealing with such a difficult subject) but it ultimately emerges as an inspirational and hopeful one, about courage and deriving restoration and serenity through trust in God’s faithfulness.
The Sons of Issachar by Philip Lyn
(44 pages; Published by Rich Wisdom Sdn Bhd)
Philip Lyn is a well-known intercessor from the SIB Skyline Church in Sabah. In the blurb at the back, Philip imparted that intercessors are no longer marginalized. In his words, they have become increasingly recognized as part of God’s vital plans to prepare every land across the globe for a mega-spiritual move that will shake nations and pull down hitherto long-resistant spiritual strongholds.
Many people may not understand what is happening or what the Bible has to say about the emergence of intercessors. Taking the key to understanding this subject from 1 Chronicles 12:32, Philip provides understanding on the identity, emergence, and overall task of the intercessory ministry and its impact on nations.
Church History and the National Context
From Mission to Church: The Evolution of the Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaysia: 1885 – 1976 by Earnest Lau
(300 pages; Published by Genesis Books, an imprint of ARMOUR Publishing Pte Ltd, Singapore)
The Methodist Church in Malaysia and Singapore was one of the pioneers here, and has played an important role in the nation’s development and history. Throughout their history in our nation, they have established many schools and charitable as well as mission organizations.
This book relates in detail the history of the local Methodist Church from 1885-1976. It tells the story of challenges like planting the mission, the struggles during the wartime in World War II, and the road to autonomy. In the words of Bishop Dr Robert Solomon of the Methodist Church in Singapore, ‘this book offers a fascinating and poignant account of the missional, organizational and ecclesiastical developments in Methodism [in South-East Asia]’.
One Hundred Bible Characters: People Who Changed The World by Dr S Batumalai, Ph.D
(393 pages; Published by Syarikat Muncul Sistem Sdn Bhd)
Do we know how to differentiate between Jehoshaphat or Josiah? How about Jeroboam and Rehoboam; who is who exactly? And what about the Minor Prophets like Habakkuk, Haggai, Micah, Nahum, and Zephaniah? Do you know their significances?
Written by an Archdeacon within the Anglican Church in Malaysia, this book will help to provide the knowledge about and context for 100 of the Biblical figures. It covers well-known figures such as Elijah, Moses, David and Jonathan, Deborah and Esther, but it also covers many of the lesser-known figures.
Each figure is introduced through a key verse, followed by a short introduction of the character, before going onto the main topic of their significance in the Bible (strengths and weaknesses, lessons from their lives, the teachings of the prophets, etc..). Each entry is completed by questions to guide the reader towards the salient features of each character that are relevant to the reader’s life.
The book is prefaced by a short entry by Dr Batumalai about the benefits and importance of studying the Biblical characters.
Symbols & The Church: Its Relevance In The Malaysian Context by Solomon Rajah
(85 pages; Published by the Council of Churches of Malaysia)
As Christians, we are called to differentiate ourselves from the belief systems of the world. The fact is, however, that many of us live in multi-cultural countries with different types of beliefs and symbols around us. How are we to make sense of these symbols?
In this book, Solomon Rajah, the Director of Tamil TEE and lecturer on Pastoral Theology at STM, guides Christians in this complex but relevant issue. He starts off by a reflection and an explanation about the forms of symbolism in the Early Church, the history (including iconography in the Eastern Church Tradition), major concepts during the Romantic Movement, and some theories after the Symbolist Movement.
The second part of the book looks into the use of symbolism in the Malaysian context such as the symbols of Muhibbah, Kesetiaan, Harmoni, Kesejahteraan, and Perpaduan. Solomon Rajah explains how it is possible to reconcile these symbols within our Christian faith, and even minister to others and be of positive influence through the aid of these symbols.
A part of the book details the models of symbolism for doing ministry in the context of Evangelical Christian Ministry. As a Lutheran, Solomon gives much insight into the Lutheran approach to symbols including a historical perspective, and its place in Worship, Vestment and Architecture. For Christians, the ultimate symbol still remain that of the Blood and the Cross.
Related Interest: There are also books that guide Christians to a Biblical Approach to Chinese Culture (A Biblical Approach To Chinese Traditions & Beliefs by Daniel Tong (ISBN: 9814138924; 978-9814138925) and Indian Culture (A Biblical Approach To Indian Traditions and Beliefs by Dr Joshua Raj (ISBN: 9814222399; 978-9814222396).
The books above are just a small glimpse of the vibrant landscape we have of local Christian writers. Some of our local writers like Susan Tang and Anthony Y.F. Loke are very prolific. Many of these books are available at local bookstores like the Burning Bush at DUMC, Canaanland, Salvation Bookstores, and Glad Sounds or at the Seminari Theoloji Malaysia in Seremban.
The Media ministries which include books like these are a very important part of the Kingdom of God, both globally, but also within a local context. They keep the Body of Christ united, and are specially suited to help edify Christians within an environment that is most relevant, both culturally and nationally. Perhaps it is time that we start supporting our local writers.
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Christianity Malaysia have produced some book reviews in the past. You can find them at:
The Chess Chronicles by Wilson Ng :
Give Me 2 Months by P. Leelet :
A Life Worth Living by Pr Chew Weng Chee :
The Colour of My Mind by Albert Wang :
Revelations of the Great Gospel by Pr David Robert :
Revelations into the Anguished Prayers of Hannah by Susan Tang:
The Family Church History Series by Goh Kim Guat :