He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. – Matthew 8:26, New International Version.
The crowd shattered the silence for the early worship. Standing just like everyone else, I was trying my best to enjoy the atmosphere while hoping not to betray that I was dead tired. I had very little sleep because the Malaysian Forum Ann Arbor just ended the night before. But I had made a promise to a friend to attend Easter celebrations and after all, it’s only once a year isn’t it? I am a non-believer but I wasn’t foreign to the happenings that take place in the house of God. Today isn’t my first time and I am sure it won’t be the last. Easter is a big deal for those of faith and it doesn’t hurt to partake in the joy of someone else. After all, isn’t that what friends do?
I occasionally glanced back, hoping to spot my other friends whom we have temporarily parted ways for the sake of better seats. The crowd was trickling in and they weren’t anywhere to be seen. As I turned my head forward I spotted several Malaysians who were trying to squeeze through the aisle in front of me. I naturally waved to greet them, but it took me a split second to recognize the irony of it all.
They were all Muslims.
I guessed the other Christian Malaysian friends who were with me were slightly surprised as well, albeit in a good way. Nudging the girl next to me, I whispered in her ear: “Cherish it while it lasts. You’ll not find this in Malaysia.” She broke into a quick giggle and nodded in approval. They weren’t politicians of any grand stature poking their heads into the churches for the sake of making a political statement. They were just ordinary people with faith of their own, probably just wanting to share the joy of their fellow Christian friends. I write this with a heavy heart, knowing that the battlegrounds of politics in Malaysia have been increasingly polarized and that religion is one of the biggest victims of them all.
They have instantaneously earned my respect for I know some of their fellow peers may not react in jubilee if ever their act were found out. Peer pressure has its ways of making things really difficult. It’s a pity – this whole notion that faith grows in vacuum and that the simple emphatic act of giving and receiving across religious borders have been viewed with such disdain by certain quarters. I can’t speak for them, but I doubt their faith was any weaker when they left that event. Quite to contrary, it could only grow in tandem with their open minds, testament of the fact that we have so much to learn from one another.
I’ll fight for the day when my fellow countrymen will no longer have to view religion through the prism of isolation and singularity. Easter has its quirky ways of bestowing people with the most poignant of memories. This will be my last one in the States, at least for some time. And I don’t think I’ll ever forget what I witnessed today.
Happy Easter everybody!
20 Days to Graduation