There is a well-loved verse in the Book of Jeremiah, known and taken by every Christian as a clarion of hope. “Know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Yet if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us would confess that we find the truth of this promise difficult to grasp as Malaysians, even as Christians. The nation is struggling with economic tensions, and we do not know what will come once the New Year hits. And amidst all this, we are still stuck in a rut, struggling to make it through another day in an environment of general overall instability. Despite how some people may argue or convince you otherwise, this seem to be the daily reality we are facing today.
Many of the young people on which the future of the nation is built are experiencing a loss of hope, and many may even be thinking of migrating if they were given the chance. This is a cause of concern. Because the Bible says very clearly that God has promised His children a hope and a future, and that we are placed where we are through no accident. Are we to take God at His word or as a liar?
But the Bible also says that without vision, His people perish (Proverbs 29:18). In the THRIVE2016 Conference, YB Hannah Yeoh was given a topic to share touching on our roles as citizens of this country. ‘It is very important that as Christians, we catch the vision, not just corporately, but individually. We must catch the vision that God really has a plan and future for us in Malaysia, that it was not by accident that He placed us in Malaysia. And that we are not just meant to survive in this nation, but to do well and to excel.’
‘As Christians, we must speak life into the nation and the people around us. Instead of complaining, pray for the nation. We are supposed to be carriers of the Word of Life. The people around us must be able to see this Word of Life.’
YB Hannah herself had to go through a journey of faith with the Lord. After 5 years of equipping herself to work in the legal field in Australia, her PR application did not come through and she had to return to Malaysia. The Lord only gave her a reminder through Jeremiah 29:11.
For 3 years in Malaysia, Hannah worked as a lawyer. She was attending church but in her heart, she wanted to do more for the Lord. And then one day God told her to quit her job as a lawyer and she became an event manager with her father’s business.
For two years, her job was to check redemption receipts. It is easy in such circumstances to wonder where life would lead – seemingly nowhere – but YB Hannah did not struggle. The Lord was preparing her for something bigger, something that she would never ever imagine in her wildest dream.
‘Only God knows the best path for you, and only He can direct your path. You can fight with Him but you know you will lose. And by obeying Him you will look back and see how far he has taken you,’ she conveyed. So she obeyed Him. In coming back to Malaysia, in quitting her career in law, in taking up the challenge at the young age of 28 becoming an elected representative. ‘It was frightening at first. I did not know where God would take me. I had to learn to die to myself and to put the community first.’
It was not easy. She had few hours for herself, the demands were strenuous, and sometimes people do not seem to understand or be thankful. At one point she almost wanted to quit. But the Lord reminded her through a gentle rebuke to count the cost of discipleship and to run well the race that God has called each of His children to. ‘We each have our race to run and they are all different. Some have been called to run a marathon, some in a relay race, and some in a 100-meter dash,’ she conveyed.
‘We must be able to discern God’s voice and direction and His plans for us. Because things may not get better. In difficult days, when there are all kinds of conflicting advice, whose are we going to listen to? Only the word of God and God Himself is constant. So we must stay close to God and be grounded in Him. We must be prepared because you never know where He will take you.’
On 21 June 2013, Hannah Yeoh was elected and sworn in as Malaysia’s first woman speaker for the Selangor State Assembly. At the age of 34 she is also the youngest speaker of any legislative Assembly in Malaysia.
‘Be a people of conviction, and let your conviction be a firmly-held belief based on Truth. Do not just base your opinions on hearsay. Research the truth for yourself and understand the issues. We must not be apathetic and indolent and just follow the general opinion.’
As an elected representative, YB Hannah shared that her conviction will always be in fighting against corruption and for a more inclusive Malaysia. In her sharing, she gave examples through her own life. But she also gave examples through the life of figures in the Bible.
Conviction must be communicated. There are few examples that show this as clear as Daniel’s. His conviction was tested many times; in the lions’ den, in the furnace. ‘Your conviction will be tested. But just like Daniel who chose not to defile himself with the royal food that was offered to the idols, we must be firm in our convictions. You must uphold your convictions even when it is unpopular , when it hurts, when it is inconvenient.’
Daniel’s conviction produced results (Daniel 1:15). At the end of the ten days he and his friend looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. In the same way, God will bring the results of our conviction.
It is our part to do and produce work that will reflect our convictions. There is a hope and future for us in Malaysia but we must be prepared and we must be a people of conviction guided on the truth. And the highest truth is God’s truth.
‘There is a future for you in Malaysia. You need to hear the voice of God and work in partnership with Him. To build a future, you need to shine like a light. What will mark you differently from other people? We cannot be people of public opinion. The majority and the public is not always right. Be a person of conviction. Be based on truth. Be based on the word of God.
‘Nothing is impossible for God and if we allow ourselves to be guided by Him, we will one day see the truth of His promise,’ YB Hannah communicated.
NOTE: The THRIVE Conference was envisioned to empower the young Christians in this nation to go beyond the ordinary, into becoming THRIVING overcomers. This is the first year the conference was held. You can find out more about the conference on their FaceBook page. Photos credited to Caleb Lim.
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