I arrived on Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Immediately as we were flying in, I looked out of the window of the plane to see the top of a large mosque as we flew by. This was a different side of Asia from the Buddhist majority cities that I am familiar with.
Once I was through the airport and on the road my first impressions of Kuala Lumpur were that it was a city experiencing great economic growth. In every place in the city, new high rises are going up, large road construction projects are underway.
Arriving at the hotel recommended by the conference, I was struck by the ostentatious spread of the complex. It was decked out in an Egyptian theme complete with the statue of a large sphinx. Connected to two side-by-side hotels was a huge mall. Inside of the mall was an ice skating rink and many different Western restaurants and stores. Outside of the hotel was a large water park that could be viewed from inside of the hotel.
Women in full black burqas, presumably visiting from the Middle East, perused the mall’s shops with their husbands who happen to be wearing comfortable shorts and sandals. There were all kinds of people present, both visibly religious and those who visibly were not, such as the Asian lesbian couple holding hands or the group of teens wearing Japanese Anime styled costumes.
This was the setting of my trip to the 23rd World Pentecostal Conference.
The first two days of the rip were busy with mission leader sessions that were held before the conference officially began. Some key leaders from many countries were present. I met leaders from Japan, Iran, Sweden, India, Bangladesh, Columbia, Borneo, and many more. In all there are over 3500 leaders and participants registered from 69 countries in attendance for the conference itself.
The venue was the newly dedicated Calvary Church & Convention Centre which is led by Malaysian Pastor Prince Guneratnam. The centre is pretty impressive. It has a modern 5000-seat auditorium complete with high tech sound and lighting, large common meeting areas, escalators, and theatre styled classrooms. It is a uniquely designed building in its own right, but the fact that it is in the heart of Malaysia makes it even more interesting to behold.
I wonder if by allowing its construction that the government of Malaysia is trying to send a message to the rest of the world that Malaysia is inclusive and accommodating to all faiths and religious backgrounds. If so, good job Malaysia!
From what I’ve seen, the building seems to fit in with the general tenor of Kuala Lumpur; lots of new construction, economic growth, and a “go big” mentality. Like any new church related building project, it has not been without controversy. But I do marvel at the faith of both its leader and the members who have stuck with the project to completion.
It has been a great venue for this conference where the theme has been, “God has done wonderously.”