Malaysian deacon: PH has ‘special role’ to play in Asia
Deacon Adrian Ng (rightmost) shares some fun with young people from Catholic Christian Outreach. CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN OUTREACH
By Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz
April 27, 2019
KUALA Lumpur, Malaysia
The Philippines is the only other majority Christian country in Asia, aside from East Timor. And this is precisely the reason why a Malaysian deacon believes the country has to step up to play a special role in the region.
“It’s very, very actually crucial [that the Philippines] truly becomes the light in Asia. She is the bright … first daughter of the Church in Asia. She needs to actually rise up to that role,” Deacon Adrian Ng, former Campus Ministry Office Director of the Malacca – Johore Diocese, told CBCP News in an exclusive interview.
According to the former campus chaplain, Asian countries “have a right to know Jesus through Philippines.”
‘Elder brother’ role
Concretely, Ng said the Philippines can carry out this role in Asia by being an “elder brother” to convene the other, younger Catholic churches in Asia.
He added: “Philippines, I think needs to see herself as calling the key players, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore to come, [and say] ‘Let’s meet together. Let’s talk about what you’ve been doing. What have you learned? What has inspired you? What have been your challenges?’”
Ng said that while grassroots programs are good, there is a need for an avenue for top church leaders in the region to gather and “challenge each other to rise higher.”
Evangelizing nominal Catholics
The other unique position the Philippines has, he added, is being a majority Catholic country where the main work is evangelizing nominal Catholics. He noted how the sharing of best practices with this particular type of proclaiming the Gospel can benefit many other countries that are historically Christian.
“…If Philippines can solve this problem [of] evangelizing a country that’s majority Catholic, you will solve the problem for many, many countries in the world like Brazil, and American countries,” Ng explained.
Concretely, the permanent deacon suggested the need for a more visible presence of Philippine Catholic culture online.
He stressed: “[I suggest] getting more of those cutting-edge stuff from the Philippines out there into the media. … Inspire the rest of us with what’s happening [in the Philippines]. I think there are a lot of good things, but you all need to recognize all those good things and put that out [online],”
‘Walls of division’
Long recognized as one of the most vibrant churches in the world, the Church in the Philippines, Ng said, has to address the lack of a united effort among different religious groups and personalities,
“Your challenge also is working in silos. That means like we have all these movements and great things happening in Philippines, but everyone is doing their own little thing and …there’s no one saying, ‘Ok, you got this part, and you got that part. And if we brought this together then the Body of Christ … can be stronger,” he explained.
According to him, the growth and impact of the Church in the Philippines is limited because of such “walls of division.”
“We won’t go far because the devil has got us actually. We got divisions,” added Ng.
According to the CIA Factbook and the Pew Research Center, the Philippines is one of the top five countries in the world with the greatest number of Catholics, along with Mexico, the United States, and Italy.
The Philippine population is around 81.4% Catholic, but recent statistics from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reports that the number of regular Sunday Mass-going Catholics is going down.