Southeast Asian Family Conference: an American’s Perspective
Bethany and I flew from San Francisco to Singapore on the longest non-stop flight in the world: 17.25 hours! As excruciating as that may seem, it was actually quite an enjoyable, comfortable, and relaxing trip because of the wonderful hospitality of the Singapore Airlines crew. That selfless attention to our needs was our introduction to a new cultural experience for us. When we landed in Singapore, the gracious hospitality of our hosts, Thomas and Pamela Teh (who are the directors of IBLP SE Asia) amplified this cultural hospitality to us by adding the love and joy of Christ. They pampered and attended to us so much that we felt like royalty!
On the first day, we were able to see the cultural uniqueness of this Family Conference! I will attempt to describe this uniqueness for you from three perspectives: Fellowship, Friendliness, and Food.
Most of the attendees to the conference come from countries where the majority of the population is Muslim. In fact, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world. Some of these families had just experienced severe rioting in their city of Jakarta the week before they came. Christians are a small minority in Indonesia there and face increasing pressures as the culture becomes more radicalized. Christians in most of the other countries are also a minority, so you can imagine the fellowship they have when they get together with fellow believers who are like-minded in the ways of the Lord. This is a joyful time of reunion, praise, and “iron sharpening iron.” Their fellowship with one another is deepened as they have fellowship with the Lord Jesus through teaching, prayer, praise, and singing! And, oh! How they love to sing!
Friendliness:ATI families. The theme of this Family Conference was “Walking in the Light,” but it was more than just a theme to conference attendees. Most of the workers in the hotel were Muslim and you could tell how, during the week, they were drawn to the warmth and light of the ATI families who walked in.
That friendliness and fellowship of the conference was also evident in the activities they had for their children. The Southeast Asians have a unique program to train youth which is called FULFIL (Finding Unending Love and Fellowship In the Lord.) The young people there are very energetic and love to interact with other believers their own age.ALERT Cadet program is also very strong in SE Asia. This year the conference had the special honor of having Kevin Edwards, Director of the International ALERT Cadet Program, and his wife Loree and their two sons. The Edwards family came to Malaysia to conduct the Cadet program. After the conference they also attended the Malaysian Cadet Awards Ceremony. It was special to see how the boys and their dads fellowship and learn from one another.
Bethany and I are grateful to God for the opportunity to attend this year’s Southeast Asia Family Conference in Malaysia. Enjoying sweet fellowship, friendliness, and food with brothers and sisters in the Lord halfway around the world was a life-changing experience. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another” (1John 1:7).