The prayers are many for the people of Sabah who are in shock, knowing that their homes are no longer safe from the effects of natural disasters like the June 5 earthquake that hit their home state.
Sabah does not sit on the Pacific ring of fire on which rests Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and the Andaman Islands which makes these nations full of volcanoes and prone to earthquakes. But its north is close to the Pacific ring of fire and that makes it vulnerable to earthquakes. It suffers from tremors and the last earthquake that caused some damage was in 1976. The June 5 earthquake has been the worst so far, with all the deaths (18) happening on Mt Kinabalu, considered to be the sacred resting place of the ancestors of Sabah’s Kadazan Dusun tribes.
The local belief is that the mountain protectors (aki) got angry over the antics of 10 western tourists who stripped nude and urinated on the mountain, disregarding the advice of their local guides not to do so and that was the reason for the deaths on Mt Kinabalu. This may not be scientifically proven, but it is the local belief and tourists — or anybody else, for that matter — should have enough common sense to respect the beliefs of others even if you don’t believe them.
Travel is supposed to expand your mind and make you more open and sensitive to people who are very different from you. If you can’t do that, it is better that you don’t travel to such places. Stick to the places where you don’t have to adjust your belief systems. Some of the western tourists have been remanded. I hope the police gets all of them!
From a Christian perspective, I can’t say that God caused the earthquake. God is not cruel. He, however, created this Earth and He knows how what He created works, and that includes the workings of earthquakes. So, if we are here on Earth, we should expect such natural disasters from happening. With the world experiencing adverse climatic changes, such disasters are going to happen and happen more frequently and even in places we least expect it. We should be prepared.
How then should we view the Sabah earthquake? It is a reminder that there are forces around us that are beyond our control and when they find expression, it will affect us. Only one thing will get us ready for such eventualities and enable us to deal with them as best as we can — faith in Christ.
That, I believe, is what our Lord wants of His people in Sabah — to rise up in faith. God allows bad things to happen to us because that’s life on Earth. He is the sovereign God; He is God even over the adversity. He is confident we can go through it. The important question, however, is do we have the confidence in Him to go through it. We will never have that confidence unless we have the faith in Him to confront what is ahead even if we can’t see it.
Sabah Christians need to wake up in faith and begin (if they haven’t already) making decisions about themselves, their families, their communities, their lifestyles and their future by faith. By faith they should make the necessary changes in their lives according to His will, His Word, not only in their personal lives but in the public and political arenas as well.
It is only when they start making decisions by faith in accordance with God’s will that they will become masters of their own destiny and they will become a blessing to their families, communities, state and to Malaysia. I say the same to the Christians in Sarawak.
When East Malaysian Christians rise up in faith, they will become a major power broker in national politics, and it will be good for the nation.