A Malaysian pastor threatened with death for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity remains missing more than a year after his February 2017 kidnapping in Kuala Lumpur, a family friend confirmed to Baptist Press (BP) March 26.
The family of 63-year-old Raymond Koh has heard nothing of his whereabouts or health since his abduction by as many as a dozen masked men in broad daylight, family friend and Nashville-area pastor Greg Wilton told BP.
Screengrab from KiniTV documentary
Malaysian pastor Raymond Koh has been missing since his February 2017 kidnapping amid death threats against him for spreading the gospel in Malaysia, a Muslim country under Sharia law. His wife Susanna has pled for his release.
“They’ve really suffered, suffered psychologically,” said Wilton, who met Koh before becoming missions pastor of the Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., in January 2017. “And yet through it all, God’s given them a tremendous amount of … assurance that even though they may not see him in this life, they are totally certain that they will see him in the next life.”
Koh pastored an Evangelical Free Church of Malaysia for 20 years before founding Harapan Komuniti in Malaysia in 2004, a community-based outreach to single mothers, drug addicts and HIV/AIDS victims, according to Open Doors USA. Workers at Harapan Komuniti were instructed not to try to proselytize people the outreach served, Koh’s wife Susanna Liew Soh Yoke has said, but days before Koh’s disappearance the family received death threats for spreading the gospel.
Wilton communicates weekly with the family through texts, praying for Susanna and Koh’s three adult children, he told BP.
“The family has a tremendous faith in God right now, still believing and trusting that he could show up at any moment, [any] day,” Wilton said. “But they also find that their faith is most solid and secure in Jesus … knowing that Jesus takes care of them even in the darkest of situations.”
Many religious liberty groups are advocating for Koh’s return, but an official inquiry of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has been on hold since January, when Malaysian police arrested Lam Chang Nam as a suspect in the kidnapping. Koh’s wife and other advocates believe the arrest is a deliberate attempt to halt the inquiry, which Malaysian law prohibits as long as court proceedings are activated against a suspect. Lam, 31, was originally charged in March 2017 with trying to extort a ransom of about $8,000 from Koh’s son Jonathan, World Watch Monitor reported in January.
“Why is he being charged with kidnapping now, after a lapse of several months and just a day before the inquiry resumed?” his wife said in a plea for his release at OpenDoorsUSA.com. “If he really is involved, then he should know where Raymond is now. Bring him out and let the perpetrators be apprehended and justice served.”
Koh is among at least four missing persons the Human Rights Commission is investigating, including pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth who were reported missing in March 2017, according to World Watch. In Malaysia, a Muslim country under Sharia law, trying to convert Muslims to Christianity is constitutionally illegal. The Open Doors World 2018 Watch List ranks Malaysia as 23rd among the 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted.
Wilton encouraged Southern Baptists to support Koh’s family by praying for them and taking any available steps to spread the gospel in Malaysia.
“Southern Baptists can do what Raymond always did, which is do everything that he can to love Malaysians and share the gospel with them,” Wilton told BP. “Continue to pray and to love all people of Malaysia.”
Koh’s family maintains a webpage at FindRaymondKoh.com. The Human Rights Commission, Open Doors, World Watch and the World Council of Churches are among groups that have advocated for Koh’s return.
See 2017 story on Koh’s plight.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor.)