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8 Malaysian women of faith who are taking social impact to a whole new level

We’re celebrating International Women’s Day by shining the spotlight on 8 Christian women creating transformational change in Malaysia!

Meet these incredible women living out God’s call to love others, care for the planet and empower every human being to live with dignity. Read on to find out a little more about them, the causes they’re fighting for and their hope for Malaysia’s future.

>> Renee Koo, Dignity for Children

I love the mountains and good conversations.

Renee koo

What you do and why you love it:

I’m in Marketing & Communications with a local NGO based in Sentul – Dignity for Children Foundation.

I love it because it’s exciting! Never a dull moment. I get to be a storyteller, entrepreneur, teacher, event planner, and the list goes on. What fuels me is knowing that I’m in a place where thousands of children including the stateless, migrants and refugee children are receiving love, care, quality education and opportunities (what many of them have been robbed of).

Renee in her favourite habitat — mountains and nature. Image Source: Renee Koo

Your favourite Scripture:

“Be on the alert. Stand firm in the faith. Be men of courage. Be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. It’s five straight-to-the-point encouragements, and the final one – keeps me grounded.

Hope for Malaysia’s future:

For all of us to not judge a person by their appearance or status.

>> Suzanne Ling, PichaEats

Child of God, a daughter, a friend, and a big fan of fudgy chocolate brownies with hot americano!

suzanne ling

What you do and why you love it:

I’m one of the co-founders for PichaEats, a food business in Kuala Lumpur that partners with amazing chefs from the refugee community to cater food for celebrations, events, weddings & more. Through this, it gives them the avenue to earn an income for themselves through their own hardwork. As they’re putting food on your table, you’re putting food on theirs!

One of the most fulfilling things in doing what I do is to see how strong, resilient & talented the chefs are, and how much they can offer to others. It’s been a joy building relationships with the Picha Families, and journeying with them through the past years.

Suzanne with a Picha family. Image Source: Suzanne Ling

Your favourite Scripture:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” – Ephesians 3:20

Hope for Malaysia’s future:

To be a country that upholds equality, inclusivity & justice.

>> Chong Yin Wei, UNDP

I enjoy exploring diverse cultures, travelling to places, observing behaviors, and engaging different people to understand the world we live in better and collectively build a brighter future for everyone.

chong yin wei

What you do and why you love it:

I am the Head of Solutions Mapping, Accelerator Lab in United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malaysia. My work involves me identifying issues and solutions from the grassroots and experimenting with different innovative methodologies to grow solutions that will benefit the wider communities in tackling the frontier challenges that Malaysia is facing today. To do so effectively, I work closely with both the public and private sector in the local innovation ecosystem to integrate SDG and impact driven solutions, to empower change agents from the community and adopt more bottom-up approaches.

I love my job as I get to work with different groups of people in projects that addresses a multidimensional range of issues, ranging from poverty eradication, digital business to climate action and local governance. It is most satisfying when I am able to co-create sustainable solutions that have a real impact on the people who need them the most and see them thrive in their environment. My job also allows me to meet inspiring people from all levels of society and take action together in solving social development challenges that are often complex and systemic in nature.

Yin Wei combines technical expertise with community experience. Image Source: Chong Yin Wei

Your favourite Scripture:

Psalm 23

Your hope for Malaysia’s future:

I hope to see our society to have a greater sense of ownership of the social, political and economic challenges that Malaysia is facing today and take action in changing the status quo, rather than ignorantly waiting for change or expect silver bullet solutions.

I hope to see a generation of people that looks out for their neighbors and actively participates in local community actions, whether in matters as common as littering, to monumental issues such as flood prevention and providing equal livelihood opportunities for the further left behind. Because I believe Malaysia can only change for the better if everyone starts seeing their role as a citizen of this nation (and a global citizen) and plays their part in rebuilding what we have lost in a united and sacrificial manner, putting behind old scars and a hurtful past that have divided our society.  

I hope one day we will see a mature Malaysian society that strives for the common good, that loves freely, protects each other’s rights, and truly celebrates diversity and our differences.

>> Rachel Shanti, Desa Amal Jireh

I’m known to be a direct person but this also makes me very loyal to loved ones around me. I happily go the extra mile for them, and no meet-up is complete without bonding over a meal cos we’re Malaysians and that’s what we do best. Some call me a Durian; hard and sharp on the exterior but soft, squishy and delicious on the inside.

Rachel shanti

What you do and why you love it:

I’m serving in a children’s & Senior Citizens home. Its called Desa Amal Jireh. This home was founded by my parents 37 years ago. We grew up watching them love God and love every resident that walk through our doors. We served alongside them. Only to realize I find joy by doing so. It’s rewarding. Its not easy at all, but nobody said it would be easy. After all, it’s lives we’re working with.

Knowing that each life entrusted to our hands is special to God. We don’t know how long we have with each one, but we invest in them trusting that God who is at work will see them through. After all, it’s all for the glory of God.

Rachel finds joy in serving children and seniors. Image Source: Rachel Shanti

Your favourite Scripture:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23‭-‬24

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” – John 9:4

And Psalm 139 – It’s a psalm we constantly get the children to ponder and memorise.

Hope for Malaysia’s future:

That people will see each other as fellow human beings and not according to race, religion or gender. That Malaysians will rise up and stand for what is right and just. Caring and sharing with those around us who are in need. Going the extra mile to be a blessing to those around because Malaysia is a blessed land.

>> Lydia Lee, World Vision Malaysia

Follower of Jesus Christ, a wife, mother of two young children and a Malaysian

lydia lee

What you do and why you love it:

I’m currently overseeing World Vision Malaysia‘s community development in rural Sabah and other local work in Malaysia. I enjoy it because there is clear purpose in journeying with and empowering the vulnerable, which is a form of righting injustice.

Lydia oversees World Vision Malaysia’s work in Sabah. Image Source: Lydia Lee

Your favourite Scripture:

This season, it is: “Jesus wept” – John 11:35.

Hope for Malaysia’s future:

A nation where we collectively and courageously stand up for truth, justice and righteousness; a nation of people who look out for each other, especially the marginalised, the oppressed and the vulnerable.

>> Kuan Ming Foong, National Democratic Institute

An ambivert who loves animals, coffee, hanging out with friends and asking questions.

kuan ming foong

What you do and why you love it:

I’m currently involved in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) with the National Democratic Institute. I’ve been doing programme management and M&E in various international development and human rights organisations throughout my career. Despite being an introvert and more of a “thinker” rather than “doer/feeler”, I’m glad that I’ve found a sweet spot where I can use the gifts that God has given me to contribute to social causes that are close to my heart.

Ming Foong: animal-lover, coffee addict and ardent questioner. Image Source: Kuan Ming Foong

Your favourite Scripture:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” – Ecclesiastes 1:2

I like this verse because it reflects reality and how I sometimes feel. And then I would be reminded to read it in light of the last part of Ecclesiastes and how if we include God in the equation, then everything will start to make sense and have meaning.

Your hope for Malaysia’s future:

May it be a nation where justice prevails.

>> Suzane Christie, AsiaCMS

A dreamer who is loved well and is continually learning to love just as well.

suzane christie

What you do and why you love it:

I am a writer and Communications Manager for AsiaCMS, a trans-denominational mission movement based in Malaysia. What I love most about what I do is hearing and re-telling powerful stories about what God is doing in and through the lives of mission workers all over Asia.

Suzane, a writer with a heart for missions. Image Source: Suzane Christie

Your favourite Scripture:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth,  as in the day she came up out of Egypt. – Hosea 2:14-15

Hope for Malaysia’s future:

To see the Fruit of the Spirit reign within the lives of her people and leaders. But for this to happen, the body of Christ must first lead the way to reveal Jesus in every thought, word and deed. We must first be the face of Jesus to all around us.

>> Melanie Yong, Malaysian CARE

Cat stalker, part time zero waste evangelist.

melanie yong

What you do and why you love it:

I do what I love which is to get Christians involved in action for their nation – I’m the Church Relations lead at Malaysian CARE, a faith based community development organisation.

I believe that Christians have a mandate that goes beyond just evangelism and that is our work at Malaysian CARE, being good news to the poor. To make that happen, I have created church resources with my team, organised a conference with some of the bravest Christian advocates, coordinated speaking engagements at churches and continously share about the need for systemic change of the problems our communities face.

Melanie believes that faith and advocacy go hand in hand. Image Source: Melanie Yong

Your favourite Scripture:

In honor of IWD, I will share an inspiring verse shared to me by my female colleague. Numbers 27: 1-8 tells the story of a brave group of women, the daughters of Zelophehad, who advocated for their rightful inheritance.

“Then drew near the daughters of Zelophehad…and they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and all the congregation, …Why should the name of our father be taken away from his family, because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brethren.”

Later on, we read that they won their case before God. Land rights is something that resonates very deeply with our Orang Asli community.

Hope for Malaysia’s future:

To see advocacy as something integral to our faith, to be resilient in our journey towards it, and not to fear the challenges that come with it.

May we be inspired, challenged and encouraged to live out our faith and impact our communities. Happy International Women’s Day 2022!

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