Grace and Peace, Tom
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Kuala Lumpur: A City of Contrasts
Kuala Lumpur is one of my favorite cities in the world. There is a movement of life that draws you in. The blending of the Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures creates a multicultural context that spurs remarkable foods, remarkable scenery, and subtle cultural intrigue. One of the most surprising elements of the city is the way it lives somewhere between the first world and the third, somewhere between great wealth and profound poverty, somewhere between social openness and religious domination. If you look down on the city from one of the countless skyscrapers, you see a very modern, first world city defined by steel and glass. From the air you can see palatial homes with extensive grounds. But, when you get down to the street level and leave the hustle and bustle of one of the ever ground business districts you see a very different picture. You see apartment complexes with laundry handing out the window on a pole to dry the washed clothes from the day. You witness Mercedes Benzes whipping by those who are struggling to survive. You can stumble upon a desperate slum within yards of homes of plenty. You feel the pulse of many living third world lives in the midst of incredible economic growth and development. You encounter the reality that while the nation claims a religious diversity, the Muslim majority dominate politics and police and shape every aspect of life. I am glad that our congregation is connected to a ministry in this city. It will let us speak into one of the roaring economic lions of Asia and walk beside those who seek to find a future in a place that is tempted to leave them behind.