New worship and community centre expected to ease predicament of BEM members

Abang Johari (right) receives a stole with traditional designs and a bead necklace from BEM president Rev Dr Justin Wan (left)

by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Nov 25: Understanding the plight of Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) Christians who have been worshipping in shophouses, the Sarawak government has given 2.8 acres of land at Taman Desa Wira to build the BEM Worship and Community Centre.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari said as a result of development, Sarawak is now facing rural-urban migration, with Kuching as one of the destinations.

“Our people in rural areas have been exposed to education and therefore they have to apply whatever knowledge they have for their own well-being. They have to go to places they can work and earn a living.

“So naturally our rural people will move to urban areas. A lot of them migrate to Kuching because this is where the economic hub is, where there are more job opportunities. And therefore, it is also natural that they bring together (with them) their beliefs to the new environment,” Abang Johari said at the launch of BEM Worship and Community Centre project here last night.

He said he was also informed that many BEM churches in the state are operating in shoplots.

Noting the increase in rural-urban migration, he asserted that the state government must and will assist.

“We cannot allow members of BEM to congest (sic) themselves in a shop and that is why we in the state government supported the proposed of this building for their members in Kuching,” Abang Johari said, adding that when he received the application for land for the project, he immediately approved it.

As Sarawak’s population is diverse with people from various racial backgrounds, customs and beliefs, Abang Johari said in order to move forward, everyone must have the philosophy of loving and respecting each other.

“Your religion is your religion. My religion is my religion. Your beliefs are yours, my beliefs are mine. But at the end of the day, we must understand and respect each other, and this is the policy under my administration.

“As a result of such policy, we created Unifor (Unit For Other Religions), a unit which engages the government and various religions in Sarawak so that we can find ways not only to understand each other better, but to help each other.”

Abang Johari signing the plaque to launch the BEM Worship and Community Centre project, witnessed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Abang Johari also spoke on the advantages and disadvantages of the quest for modern living, especially where it involves a value system.

“Our values must be universal. We must preserve the good things, and try to avoid the bad things. Every religion teaches us good values. If everyone can hold on to our good value system, then we can create a society that is of quality,” he said.

Reminding Sarawakians how fortunate they are because of their good value systems, Abang Johari said everyone can mix together, respect and help each other.

“Helping people is a good value system. When someone needs help, you extend your assistance to them, irrespective of background.

“In terms of education, we also help each other and students from mission schools acquire knowledge through a systematic education,” he said, adding that he believes BEM does the same, which is why many communities from the rural areas are well educated, because of the discipline instilled in them through education. — DayakDaily