“IT WAS a pleasant enough Sunday afternoon, a gentle breeze making it comfortable despite the 90-degree heat [32° C.] and high humidity. The year was 1938. I had only recently arrived in Malaya from Australia and was still getting used to preaching to English and Australian managers in their impressive villas on large rubber estates.
“There were three of us in our pioneer group, and our strategy was for me to go to the manager’s house and for my two partners to slip quietly down to the Indian workers’ huts and preach to them. You see, many of the estate managers did not take kindly to our speaking to their workers, lest any education might stir up dissatisfaction in them.
“We pulled up in the car just across a little river in sight of the manager’s house, and Kurt and Willy immediately made their way down to the workers’ lines. I crossed the river in a small canoe that was tied up there and walked up to the house.
“My main aim was not to be dismissed too quickly, for if I returned to the car and did not drive away fairly soon, the manager would suspect something was wrong.
“I got only as far as the foot of the steps leading up to the house. The manager and his wife were having afternoon tea on the veranda. He watched me approach, large briefcase in hand, and then as I put my foot on the first step, he called out gruffly: ‘Look! Get right back across that river and away! This is Sunday afternoon. I am having afternoon tea with my wife, and I am not here to have any business call.’
“Well, I thought, now I am really in trouble. But I had in my bag a letter of introduction that the Society had given us for just such an occasion, so I said: ‘Excuse me, but I have a letter of introduction here for you to read.’
“‘I don’t want to read it,’ he replied, even more gruffly. ‘And get off that step!’
“Silently I prayed for some way out. I also decided to stall for time, so I said quickly: ‘Really, this is very important.’ At the same time, I moved up one more step.
“This seemed to make him very angry, and now he shouted at me quite loudly: ‘I said, get off the steps!’
“At this point, I was surprised to see his wife suddenly get up from the table and come to stand behind her husband. She put both arms around him, her chin resting on his shoulder. Then she said to me quietly: ‘Won’t you come up and have a cup of tea?’
“He looked at his wife, stunned. The atmosphere was electric. I didn’t know quite where to look. There was a tense silence. Finally, the manager said in a much calmer voice: ‘All right. Come up and have a cup of tea, but don’t open that bag!’
“So we sat down to a delightful cup of tea and cakes. The tension started to thaw, and soon we were having a friendly conversation on light, everyday matters. It was not long before the manager began to discuss world affairs and asked my opinion about the rise of Mussolini in Italy, saying: ‘I wonder what Mussolini was before he entered politics and became dictator of Italy. What kind of profession was he in?’
“At that I said: ‘I think I can tell you,’ and quietly reached into my bag to get the book Enemies. I read what it stated on page 13, that Mussolini had been a bricklayer and political agitator and became a political gang chieftain, leading a march on Rome in 1922, and shortly thereafter became prime minister, or arbitrary ruler. I then put the book back again and closed my bag.
“The manager was obviously impressed. His wife asked: ‘What is that book you read from?’
“‘Oh,’ I said. ‘It’s just a book of many things.’
“But her curiosity was aroused, and she asked if she could have a look at it. Of course, I remembered my being forbidden to open the briefcase, yet here was his wife, with her hand outstretched, asking to see the book. I looked at the manager, and he rather begrudgingly nodded approval. So I handed her the book.
“Soon we had all the books and the Bible I had in my bag out on the table. Finally they wanted all the literature I had with me: seven books, a new Bible, and a subscription for both The Watchtower and Consolation [now Awake!].
“And so, after a cordial three quarters of an hour, he walked to the top of the steps with me, shook hands, and said: ‘Well, I’m sorry you got such a reception, but last Sunday a man came out here trying to sell oil, while I was sitting down to afternoon tea with my wife, and it annoyed me greatly. You got the backwash. But I can assure you that the next one of your people that comes here will get a better welcome than you did.’
“So all ended well. Kurt and Willy had by then finished their preaching in the workers’ huts, and we went on our way, rejoicing at the way Jehovah had blessed our efforts that afternoon.”
This was the kind of experience enjoyed by early missionaries such as Ted Sewell as they worked hard to open up the preaching work in Malaya back in the late 1930’s.* Today, more than half a century later, witnessing methods have changed somewhat, but the same good news of Jehovah’s established Kingdom is being preached. Now, however, the message has spread throughout the length and breadth of this colorful and fascinating land, no longer called Malaya but Malaysia.
Welcome to Multicultural Malaysia
The long, tropical Malay Peninsula is located just above the island of Singapore, to which it is linked by a half-mile-long [1 km] road and rail causeway across the narrow channel of Johore Strait. It lies just north of the equator and is bordered on the west by the Strait of Malacca and on the east by the South China Sea. Malaysia comprises the original Malay Peninsula (now referred to as Peninsular Malaysia) and the two territories of Sabah and Sarawak in northern Borneo (which make up East Malaysia). It is, indeed, a multicultural country in every way, with a population of more than 18 million. Better than half the population are Malays, and the rest are mainly Chinese. In addition a substantial minority of Indians and a sprinkling of Eurasians and Europeans help make this the most cosmopolitan population in this tropical region.
Malaysia is also a land of outstanding contrasts. In the cities, skyscrapers and minarets jostle with straw-roofed huts. Most of the countryside, however, is dominated by a landscape made up of tropical jungles, paddies, and fertile plains, dotted with kampongs, or villages, and fringed by golden sand beaches. Yet, everywhere is lush green—green of every hue—described by some as “green of a thousand colors.”
The people of Malaysia are generally friendly. They vary in life-style, from the most sophisticated Western styles to traditional, simple people of the soil. Tourists can enjoy a great variety of entertainment based on the country’s many cultures. And high on the list of delights must be Malaysian food, for in few other countries can one eat so well yet so inexpensively.
In the realm of worship, Islam has been declared the national religion, though other religions are also guaranteed freedom of worship by the Malaysian Constitution. The result is that people of many faiths—Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Catholics, and Protestants of many sects—live together in relative harmony. It is forbidden by law, however, to proselytize among the Muslims.
Far-Reaching Political Developments
By the 1930’s, Malaya had been divided into many states, some of which were governed by the British, others by sultans who were “advised” by British officials. This made the peninsula, in effect, a British colony, and the people learned the British way of life, though, of course, the different races largely lived and developed separately.
During World War II, the region was occupied by Japanese forces. Thereafter, from the late 1940’s through the mid-1950’s, the scene changed, as violent unrest and even fierce guerrilla warfare disrupted the entire country. Calm was finally restored after independence from British rule was gained in 1957. Then, in 1963, Malaya joined with the former British colonies of Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore to form a federation of states collectively called Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore withdrew from the federation and became an independent republic.
First Seeds of Truth Reach Malaya
Charles Taze Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society, undertook a round-the-world preaching tour in 1912. His itinerary included the giving of a public discourse in the city of Singapore and another at Penang, in Malaya. Only minimal follow-up work was done after these two lectures, essentially just the sending of tracts by Brother S. P. Davey in India to many of the Indian people who had settled in Malaya. The outbreak of World War I, however, put a halt to any efforts to spread Kingdom seeds in this region.
In 1923, Harris and Freda Frank and their four sons and six daughters migrated to Malaya from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). They settled at Batu Caves, not far from Kuala Lumpur, now the nation’s capital. Freda was a baptized Bible Student, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, but Harris was not, though he enjoyed reading The Watch Tower and The Golden Age (now Awake!) that were sent by subscription from the India branch. In 1931 the Franks were briefly contacted by two young pioneers from Bombay, Claude Goodman and Ron Tippin, who spent several months in Malaya and Singapore preaching from house to house. However, the only literature they had was in English, so their activity was confined to the English-speaking people. The brief visit of these two zealous early missionaries was of great encouragement to Freda Frank in her isolated situation.
Australian Pioneers Come to Help
Early in the 1930’s, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia region was placed under the direction of the branch office in Australia. The branch soon began to send missionaries. First to arrive was George Schuett, who was joined a few months later by an English pioneer named Peck, who had been preaching in Papua New Guinea. Over the next few years, a dozen or more other full-time preachers from Australia, New Zealand, and Germany served in Malaya for varying periods, but for several reasons no one stayed in one place long enough to see direct fruits from his labors.
Then, in 1936, a more permanent arrangement began to take shape with the establishment of a literature depot in Singapore. Harold Gill from Australia was appointed to oversee the work at the depot. Two years previous, in 1934, Frederick (Jimmy) James and his family had moved from India and settled in Singapore. His home was located in the pleasant suburb of Katong, and he offered part of his house to be used as the Society’s depot. It was also used as a meeting hall and pioneer home.
A regular group study in the book The Harp of God was held in the James’ home, and neighbors were invited to attend. One neighbor couple, Frank and Win Hill, along with their three children, were eventually baptized.
The brothers in Singapore made occasional weekend round-trip visits to the Frank family at Batu Caves. These long trips would include using a sound car to play recordings of lectures by Joseph F. Rutherford, then president of the Society, as well as some house-to-house preaching in Kuala Lumpur. So, in a small way, seeds of truth were getting planted in Malaya.
The Lightbearer Brings More Pioneers
The Lightbearer was a boat outfitted by the Society in Australia specially for work in the Singapore-Malaya area. Manned by seven stalwart pioneers under the captaincy of Eric Ewins of Fiji, the Lightbearer arrived in Singapore on August 7, 1935, and docked for a while before sailing up the west coast of Malaya. Some of the towns visited in this way were Johore Bahru, Muar, Malacca, Klang, Port Swettenham (now Port Klang), and Penang. Brother Rutherford’s lectures on phonograph records would be broadcast by loudspeaker from Lightbearer anchorages. Then there would be house-to-house visits to distribute literature.
Occasionally the brothers from the Lightbearer were able to go farther inland, and so they met up with the Frank family at Batu Caves, sharing with them in small meetings and in field service. Sister Frank was delighted to see several members of her family baptized at the time of one of these visits. Much literature was placed during these excursions, but Eric Ewins reported: “Our witnessing did not seem to make any lasting impressions on the people. They readily accepted literature, but they needed regular home Bible studies, which were not available then.”
Steps Toward More Stable Organization
Harold Gill was recalled to Sydney in 1937, and Alfred Wicke was sent to oversee the Singapore depot. Meanwhile, pioneers such as Ted Sewell from Australia and Kurt Gruber and Willy Unglaube from Germany were spreading seeds of truth in Malaya. Then, when Alfred Wicke announced his plans to marry in 1939, he was assigned to Malaya to join Kurt Gruber in Penang, and George Powell from Australia arrived to manage the depot.
Alfred Wicke’s fiancée, Thelma, was sailing from Sydney to Singapore to marry Alfred and join him in the pioneer work at Penang. However, when her ship was several days out from Perth, the outbreak of World War II was announced. All windows and portholes in the ship were blacked out, and a zigzag course through the Indian Ocean became necessary to dodge possible enemy submarines. But Thelma arrived safely, and their wedding took place a week later. Then they drove the 500 miles [800 km] to Penang, where Sister Wicke became the first Australian sister to serve as a pioneer in Malaya.
The Witness work at that time was mainly a wide distribution of literature, with virtually no follow-up work. So when the Wickes completed the territory on Penang Island, they crossed over to the mainland. They steadily preached from Alor Setar in the north down through towns and rurals along the west coast southward, using literature in more than 20 languages.
A Sikh Becomes a Witness
While witnessing in Kuala Kangsar in the state of Perak, the Wickes received a surprise visit from a 16-year-old schoolboy who lived in a neighboring town. His name was Puran Singh, and he was a Sikh, as his name implies. He had obtained the Society’s booklet Where Are the Dead? and was so impressed by what he read that he wrote an article on this subject for his school magazine. He wrote to the Singapore depot for more information and learned of the Wickes’ whereabouts. He immediately cycled more than 30 miles [50 km] to meet them.
The next day he accompanied Alfred Wicke on a preaching trip in the rurals—“just to see how it is done.” As soon as this serious young man completed his schooling, he left home, then cycled 150 miles [240 km] to attend an assembly at Kuala Lumpur. There he symbolized his dedication to Jehovah by water baptism and adopted the name George Singh. Immediately he enrolled in the full-time ministry. And so George Singh had the privilege of being the first Malayan to become a pioneer. Soon after this the Society transferred him to India, where he continues faithfully in Jehovah’s service.
World War II and the Japanese Invasion
Not long after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the preaching work was disrupted. The results? Pioneers were no longer able to support themselves financially, so, reluctantly, the Wickes returned to Singapore. They felt satisfied, however, in knowing that during their 20 months serving together in Malaya since their marriage, they had distributed more than 50,000 books and booklets containing the Kingdom message. It is of interest to note that at the war’s outbreak, there were just 16 publishers reporting field service in the whole of Singapore and Malaya. A little over 18 months later, however, there were 36 publishers reporting!
Things moved quickly after this. In June 1941, George Powell was denied reentry into Singapore after a trip to Thailand and had to return to Bangkok on the same ship. In July the last three full-time representatives, Len Linke and Alfred and Thelma Wicke, were deported to Australia. Six months later, the Japanese armies made a lightning advance down through the Malayan jungles and swiftly captured the strong fortress of Singapore on February 14, 1942.
Thus, another chapter in the history of Jehovah’s people in Singapore and Malaya was closed. George Powell ended up in an internment camp in Thailand, along with Ted Sewell. Jimmy James and his wife, together with Frank Hill, were imprisoned by the Japanese in Singapore. Other families, including Win Hill and her children, were able to leave Singapore before the invasion and go to Australia. Some went to England. Others, including most of the Frank family, escaped to India, with what belongings they could carry.
Revival of the Witness Work
Less than two years after the end of World War II, on March 28-29, 1947, Nathan H. Knorr, then president of the Society, and Milton G. Henschel, his secretary, visited Singapore as part of their round-the-world service tour. Would anyone be there to meet them?
Yes, Frank Dewar, pioneer and ex-member of the Lightbearer crew, was on hand to greet them. But he was not alone. Jimmy James, whose wife died in a prison camp, had come out of detention and was now employed in Singapore. Jimmy was the engineer and electrician at the famed Raffles Hotel, so here the visiting brothers were able to stay and meet with the few other brothers still in Singapore.
During their visit, Brothers Knorr and Henschel spoke to nine brothers and sisters at meetings and told them that two Gilead graduates were on their way and were due to arrive in Singapore shortly. So, on April 5, 1947, two Canadians, one from the seventh class of Gilead and the other from the eighth class, arrived to take up their missionary assignment in Singapore.
In this way the work was restarted after World War II. Shortly afterward, in March 1949, six more missionaries, from Gilead’s 11th class, arrived in Singapore. They were Les Franks and his two sisters, Aileen and Gladys; Norman Bellotti; and Alfred and Thelma Wicke, who of course felt they were coming back home.
But What of Malaya?
The work now began to progress well in Singapore, as each of the missionaries concentrated on conducting home Bible studies. Thus, during a second visit by Brothers Knorr and Henschel in April 1951, a convention was arranged with 72 in attendance; 307 came to the public talk in the city’s delightful Victoria Theatre. It was during this visit that a branch office was established to care for the Kingdom work not only in Singapore but also in Malaya and the British Borneo territories of Sabah and Sarawak. Now attention could be focused on Malaya. Six missionaries were assigned to the area. Two of them, James Rowe and Neil Crockett, were able to preach for one year in Kuala Lumpur, but the other four unfortunately were only allowed to stay one month, and they served in Penang. Why their stay was so short is a story in itself.
Missionaries in Kuala Lumpur
Early in 1951 the ship Steel King chugged into the port of Penang from New York with six missionaries aboard. At Penang the immigration officials inspected the passports of Brothers Crockett and Rowe and stamped them for a one-year stay in Malaya. However, when they checked the passports of the other four missionaries, it suddenly dawned on them how many missionaries of Jehovah’s Witnesses were entering the country. They told the missionaries that newly passed regulations would not allow foreign Witnesses to stay in the country. However, since the passports of Brothers Crockett and Rowe had already been stamped for a one-year stay, they were permitted to remain, but the other four were granted only a one-month stay in Penang, after which they were to leave the country and were reassigned to Thailand.
The branch assigned Brothers Crockett and Rowe to Kuala Lumpur. A missionary home was soon established at 25-A Klang Road, about two miles [3 km] from the city center. The city had only one active publisher, Sister Mackenzie, an elderly woman of Eurasian background. Imagine her joy when two missionaries joined her in service!
Although the truth had been preached to some extent in the 1930’s and early 1940’s, working the territory in 1951 seemed like preaching in virgin territory. The two missionary brothers were anxious to cover the territory as quickly as possible. With a keen desire to search for prospective sheep, they spent whole days as well as evenings preaching and calling back on interested ones. So it was not unusual for them to place a hundred books in a month. Thus, in a short time, each missionary was conducting 15 to 16 Bible studies per month. And after approximately six months, the first congregation was established, with as many as 14 attending the meetings.
Since Communist insurgents were active in Malaya about this time, it was deemed foolhardy for any Westerner to venture outside the city limits for fear of being ambushed and killed as a suspected plantation owner or colonial government official. However, Sister Mackenzie had a son George, who lived in a distant province, and he wanted to study the Bible. How could the missionaries visit him in view of the dangerous traveling conditions? Brother Crockett had an idea—blend in with the local people. So he would board an old interprovince bus and seat himself among the other passengers, who had their clucking hens and squealing pigs with them. Many were the tense moments. Every time the bus would round a turn in the road, the passengers never knew what to expect. Perhaps they would run into an ambush and a hail of bullets. Thankfully, during the many months of traveling to study with George, no life-threatening incident occurred. Incidentally, George was eventually baptized and became a well-respected elder until his death in 1986.
All too soon for the two missionaries, their permit to stay in Malaya neared its expiration date. Would their request for an extension be granted? All hopes were dashed when the answer was no.
Thus, Brothers Crockett and Rowe sadly said good-bye to their Malayan family and boarded a boat for further missionary service in Thailand. Did their departure stop the work in Malaya?
Thankfully, no. There were also a few resident Witnesses in Malaya during the early 1950’s. They had returned and resettled after World War II. So it was arranged for the circuit overseer from Singapore to visit them periodically to keep them in touch with God’s organization and to build them up spiritually. Additionally, the brothers in Singapore arranged weekend campaigns to territories in Malaya, across the causeway, preaching in towns up to 150 miles [240 km] away.
Penang Again in the Spotlight
Word was received at the Singapore branch office that two young schoolgirls in Penang were showing unusual interest in the work of Jehovah’s people. They had obtained the book “The Truth Shall Make You Free” from the missionaries who had served there for one month. The circuit overseer, Les Franks from Singapore, was scheduled to visit Penang to assess the degree of interest of these two young girls. He was amazed at their depth of understanding and zeal. One of them had already laboriously typed out much of the book so that they could share the Kingdom message with others. They did not know how to obtain more copies, as their correspondence to the prewar Singapore address had been returned marked “Unknown.” They had even begun to go from door to door but had poor response and some rude rebuffs, mainly because of their lack of tact and training in how to approach householders and how to present the good news in an appealing way.
So it was arranged for Alfred and Thelma Wicke to move up from Singapore and establish a missionary home in Penang. This home would also serve as a depot to supply literature throughout Malaya. Soon a small congregation was organized. The two schoolgirls, Lee Siew Chan and Ng Yoon Chin, were delighted to have Brother and Sister Wicke with them and continued to make good progress. They attended a convention in Singapore in 1956, on the occasion of Brother Knorr’s third visit, and were both baptized there. When they finished their schooling, they both joined the pioneer ranks. Then they were thrilled to receive an invitation to attend the 31st class of Gilead, along with another pioneer from Singapore, Grace Sinnapillai. In 1958 they graduated from Gilead at the Divine Will International Assembly at Yankee Stadium, New York, and were then assigned back to Malaya to share in expanding the work there.
Kuala Lumpur Receives More Attention
Norman Bellotti and Gladys Franks had been serving as missionaries in Singapore since 1949. They married in 1955 and were later reassigned to Kuala Lumpur. This again established a foothold in Malaya’s capital city and enabled some of those who had shown interest four or five years earlier, during the year-long stay of missionaries Rowe and Crockett, to be contacted and gathered together.
Meanwhile, Les Franks, who was serving as circuit overseer, traveled up and down the west coast of Malaya. This was a dangerous time to travel because of the guerrilla warfare then being waged against the British colonial government. “When traveling by train,” Les reminisces, “my fellow passengers and I spent most of the time lying on the carriage floor, as the guerrillas would shoot indiscriminately from the jungle along the railroad track.” But it also had its lighter moments. Once, for example, when visiting a tin miner in charge of several dredges, Les turned on what he thought was his bedroom light. However, the switch he flicked had actually let loose a blaring warning siren and turned on emergency lights that flooded the entire compound. To his embarrassment, this brought all the residents to arms immediately, expecting a guerrilla attack.
In 1958, Les married Margaret Painton, an Australian missionary serving in Japan. They were now assigned to Kuala Lumpur, to take over from Norman and Gladys Bellotti, who were then moved to the city of Ipoh. The Bellottis helped establish the Ipoh Congregation, and then they were called back to Singapore for Norman to replace the branch servant.
The former branch servant had earlier married a fellow missionary. He had continued serving at the branch, but now that a baby was expected, it was necessary for him to take up secular work to provide for his family.
The steady, consistent work and good example set by these three missionary couples did much to put the Kingdom work on a good, solid footing, ready for the future increase that was to come.
A New Federation and a New Branch
As these theocratic developments were taking place, big political changes were also taking place throughout Malaya and Singapore. As explained earlier, Malaya obtained its independence from British rule in 1957, and six years later the Federation of Malaysia, which included Singapore, was born. But then, in 1965, Singapore withdrew from Malaysia to become an independent republic.
By 1972 it was considered necessary and expedient for a separate branch office of the Society to be established in Malaysia. The logical place for this seemed to be Penang, which, although not geographically central, was where the Society’s literature depot had functioned successfully for many years. Alfred Wicke was appointed as the branch overseer for the new Malaysia branch. At this time about 200 publishers were reporting in eight congregations throughout Malaysia.
This figure is not very large, considering it was four decades after the first missionaries had come to Malaysia. It is obvious that progress had been slow. One reason for this is that more than half the population of Malaysia are Muslims, and you will recall, the law forbids proselytizing among the Muslims by people of other religions. The rest of the population, predominantly Chinese and Indian, professes Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism, and the people are steeped in unscriptural traditions. The “Christian” minority are divided into many sects, and most are firmly under the control of their respective priests, pastors, and clergy.
Add to these problems the many languages and dialects, not to mention illiteracy, and it becomes clear why much time and patience are needed to help these humble people visualize new-world living and shake off the shackles of superstition and traditions. Among the Chinese, for example, veneration of parents is practiced during the parents’ lifetime and, quite often, after their death. So it is not unusual for a publisher to be told by a householder that he would like to become a Christian, but he would have to wait until his mother dies.—Compare Matthew 8:21, 22.
New Branch Sees Good Progress
The first four service years after the new Malaysia branch was formed in 1972 saw an average increase of more than 20 percent each year. Then things leveled off, but by 1976 the figure had grown from about 200 to 433 active publishers of the Kingdom. Then the 500 mark in publishers was reached in 1980. Excitement grew in the 1989 service year when the 1,000-publisher total was reached in February, and then was surpassed by a peak of 1,102 before the service year ended. An all-time peak of those baptized in one year was also reached in 1991, with 164 symbolizing their dedication. The number of publishers has continued to grow, and a peak of 1,391 was reached in August 1992.
Although the primary credit for increase must go to Jehovah God, “who makes it grow,” the encouragement and example of faithfulness given by the traveling circuit and district overseers has nevertheless contributed greatly to the steady increase enjoyed over the years. (1 Cor. 3:6, 7) Circuit overseers in the early years of the branch included Les Franks, Robert Cunard, and Alfred Wicke, each of whom also served as district overseers. Others who have shared in circuit work over the years are Norman Bellotti, Michael Freegard, Michael Chew, Chow Yee See, Khoo Soo Theong, Koh Chye Seng, N. Sreetharan, and S. Thiyagaraja.
There are other faithful brothers and sisters who by their diligent efforts have helped turn isolated groups and even virgin territory into congregations. Liew Lai Keen arrived in Kuala Trengganu in 1971 to work as a teacher. Though all alone, he immediately began to preach from door to door, and eventually a congregation was formed. In 1971 special pioneer Michael Chew was reassigned to serve the small group of brothers in Klang. When he married, his wife, Karen, was also appointed as a special pioneer. By 1974 this small group became a congregation, and today there are two congregations in Klang. Back in 1975, Koh Chye Seng took up his first special pioneer assignment in Kuantan and soon developed the isolated group there into a congregation. Then, in 1985, Brother and Sister Chew were assigned to the isolated town of Sitiawan, which now has a thriving group.
A Breakthrough With Family Groups
Up until this time, most of the congregations were made up of young people who were still in school. Following their final exams and graduation from secondary school, many of these, both brothers and sisters, would move away to seek employment. Although this contributed to a lack of stability in the congregations, in no way should it detract from the faith and determination of such young ones.
For example, consider the teenager Tan Teng Koon. As soon as his parents found out that he was studying with the Witnesses, they began to persecute him. First he was scolded constantly. Then he was caned. All his literature was torn up. When he persisted in attending meetings, his bicycle was locked up to prevent his going. But he walked the two miles [3 km] to the Kingdom Hall. He had to hide all his literature. But his Bible was too bulky, so he cut it up into several “booklets.” Then he made a secret compartment in his schoolbag so that he could carry some of the booklets and hid the rest in the ceiling of his home. He thought he had found the perfect hiding place until it rained—and soaked his literature! On one occasion while he was having a Bible study at the Kingdom Hall, his mother came and dragged him home. After that he arranged for his studies to be at different places and at different times. Today, Brother Teng Koon, now married with two children, serves as a ministerial servant.
The early 1970’s, however, began to see a gradual change—whole families instead of individuals began to embrace the truth. Among the first was a Penang family, Tan Eng Hoe and his wife, Geok Har, with their three children. They both had Methodist backgrounds, and Sister Tan had also been the church organist for several years. The family faced an uphill struggle and much opposition from all their relatives when they took their stand for the truth, but they stood firm. This in turn encouraged other families to embrace the truth. Philip and Lily Kwa and their two children were another such family. Today both Brothers Kwa and Tan serve as elders.
Branch Location Moves and Expands
The Society does not own the Bethel Home facilities in Malaysia but has rented suitable properties over the years. When the branch began operating in 1972, the Penang Congregation had recently purchased their own Kingdom Hall. The hall occupied the lower floor of a fine two-story semidetached building at the end of a row of duplex houses. In addition to the spacious hall on the ground floor, there was a room at the rear suitable for literature storage, while the upstairs could serve as living quarters. The Society had rented these sections of the building from the Penang Congregation for use as a missionary home and literature depot. So when the new branch was established, the missionary home and literature depot became the Bethel Home and office. This worked out very well, and things went along smoothly for several years. But, for a number of reasons, it became necessary to move the branch office away from the Penang Kingdom Hall. Actually, two such moves became necessary over the next few years, but each move was to another location not far away, so the Bethel headquarters still remained on the pleasant island of Penang.
By the early 1980’s, however, it was felt that a more central location for the branch office would be beneficial and could provide more efficient oversight of the Kingdom work. So efforts got under way to locate suitable premises in the area of Kuala Lumpur—the nation’s capital.
Suitable places were not easy to rent. But in 1982, two nearly completed two-story duplexes were located at Klang, about 20 miles [30 km] from Kuala Lumpur. Only one section of each duplex was available for rent at the time, but one section was ideal for a Bethel Home and branch office, and the other could be used for shipping and storage. As is often the case with new buildings, there were several construction delays, but finally, on July 1, 1983, the transfer was made from Penang to Klang. Then, in February 1986, another section of the first duplex became available for rent. This now gave the branch one complete duplex and the adjacent section of the second building. Then, in early 1989, the final section of the second duplex also became available for rent. So now the branch has two fine two-story duplexes adjacent to each other, providing extra space for offices, shipping, and storage, as well as accommodations for additional Bethel staff.
Pioneer Response Parallels Increase
From the start of the branch’s operation in 1972, there has been a correlation between the response to the full-time pioneer work and the increase in the number of Kingdom preachers. Of the 214 preaching on the average in that year, 32 were in the regular or special pioneer work. The number of pioneers kept increasing steadily until the 1975 service year, when, of the 373 publishers, there was a peak of 64 pioneers.
Then for the next seven years, the number of pioneers dropped steadily until the figure of 50 was reached in 1982. From that time, however, there has been a steady increase in full-time workers each year, until now we rejoice to see 123 in the pioneer service. Response to the auxiliary pioneer work has also been quite dramatic over the same period. One of the best years recently saw a peak of 239 auxiliary pioneers, in May 1988.
The following experience is typical of the growing heartfelt desire to share in the pioneer service.
“Whenever I read about pioneer experiences in the Society’s publications, I found that my desire to become a full-time servant of Jehovah was aroused. I would even search for articles about pioneering in older issues of the magazines. For two years continuously, my husband had been an auxiliary pioneer while holding a part-time job. I was working full-time, and this provided the extra income needed to maintain us. I realized, however, that unless I also obtained a part-time job, full-time service would not be possible. My husband and I searched in vain, since part-time employment in our locality was very scarce.
“Prayerfully I approached my employer, suggesting that I work part-time, since most of the time I had very little to do in the office. But to my disappointment the answer was a flat no! A year went by. One day my husband told me that this may now be the time for both of us to enter the full-time service because he had obtained a new part-time job that could probably support us both, and so there might be no need for me even to get part-time work. He reminded me that success in pioneering is mainly a matter of faith that Jehovah will care and provide for us. (Matt. 6:33) So he suggested that I resign from my full-time job. That month in the field, we located several new Bible studies. This prompted me to approach my employer again. My husband and I set the first day of the next month as the time we would both begin serving as regular pioneers. Ten days before the end of the month, I presented my request to my employer, but he again rejected it. So I explained to him that under the circumstances I had no choice but to resign, as I was going to join my husband in full-time service to God from the first day of the next month.
“Immediately his expression changed. He asked me to hold back my resignation, as he wanted to consider my proposal. That afternoon he called me into his office and suggested that I could work afternoons, five days a week, while he would employ a new clerk to take over my daily routine work. I was speechless! That was exactly what I had in mind to recommend to him! He even added that I could work under this new arrangement as long as I wished. That evening, when I informed my husband, he too was dumbfounded. Jehovah certainly seemed to have answered our prayers and opened the way for us to become regular pioneers.”
Early District Conventions Pose Difficulties
The first district convention planned under the new Malaysia branch arrangement was at Petaling Jaya in December 1972. One matter that caused some concern was that all public gatherings except those at recognized places of worship required a permit. Such a permit was promised for the proposed convention, since it was religious. However, the required permit was denied only one day before the convention was to start.
The branch office, though, had a contingency plan: Use two private homes and the two Kingdom Halls at Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur. The audience was divided into nine groups: The Chinese-speaking group had their sessions each morning, four of the eight English-speaking groups had theirs in the afternoons, and the other four groups used the evenings.
The following year it was again difficult to obtain the necessary permits. Nevertheless, in October 1973 it was possible to hold the “Divine Victory” Assembly in Ipoh, where the peak attendance was 320. From then on, because of the difficulty in obtaining suitable convention facilities in other towns, Ipoh became the regular district convention location for nearly ten years. But in due course other places became available for convention use, and in August 1983, soon after the transfer of the branch office from Penang to Klang, two “Kingdom Unity” District Conventions were held. One of these, at Petaling Jaya, was entirely in Chinese, and the other, at Klang, was in English. The combined attendance on Sunday afternoon for the public talk at the two conventions was 966.
Purchase of Kingdom Halls, a Landmark
Rented places for use as Kingdom Halls have served their purpose well and continue to do so. But the purchase of a Kingdom Hall for a congregation’s exclusive use adds a feeling of permanence in the eyes of interested ones and appreciation in the hearts of the brothers and sisters.
As mentioned earlier, the Penang Congregation was able to purchase its own Kingdom Hall about one year before the formation of the Malaysia branch in 1972. Over the years the original hall had been enlarged and extended twice, to accommodate the growth of the congregation. Four years before this, however, the Kuala Lumpur Congregation was able to purchase office space on the second floor of an eight-story building for use as their Kingdom Hall. This large, distinguished building, with the impressive name Selangor Mansion, was on the bank of the Gombak River, and the Kingdom Hall was on the side of the building that overlooked the river. It could comfortably seat 80 people, and of course, many more could be accommodated for special occasions, especially if the seats were placed very close together in typical Malay or Indian style. The brothers were delighted to have their own hall, especially in such an imposing building. They moved into the hall in September 1967.
Actually, Selangor Mansion was already well-known to the brothers, since for two years an apartment on the seventh floor of the building had been used as a missionary home for four sisters, Gilead-trained missionaries Lee Siew Chan and Grace Sinnapillai (now Grace John) and various special pioneers. As the congregation grew, this seventh-floor apartment also came to be used as a second classroom for the Theocratic Ministry School, which proved very convenient—even though the speakers were sometimes out of breath whenever the elevator did not work!
However, the Kingdom Hall was becoming uncomfortably overcrowded. Temporary relief was achieved by purchasing an adjoining apartment and removing a wall, thus enlarging the hall, but by the mid-1980’s a larger hall was badly needed. The brothers combed the city and outskirts thoroughly and were rewarded when they finally located a four-story corner office building, which had been built in 1985. Because of the downturn in property values, the building was now being offered for sale at about 60 percent of its original market value! And so, with generous contributions and loans from the brothers as well as a Society loan, the building was purchased, and a new Kingdom Hall, large enough to accommodate an audience of 220, was dedicated on September 9, 1989.
Further, three additional Kingdom Halls were purchased by congregations. Two of these were also dedicated during 1989—one at Ipoh and the other at Bukit Mertajam—whereas the Kingdom Hall at Klang was dedicated during the visit of Lyman Swingle of the Governing Body on January 17, 1991. The original Kuala Lumpur hall in Selangor Mansion continues to be used by the smaller Chinese congregation in that city. Kingdom Halls were also built in Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia, one at Keningau and the other at Kuching. Now there are ten congregation-owned Kingdom Halls throughout Malaysia.
Special Visits Build Up
Annual visits by zone overseers have always been very much appreciated by the brothers, particularly by the responsible ones serving at Bethel. They have also enjoyed visits by experienced brothers from nearby branches. On some of the zone visits, they have been specially blessed by having brothers from the Governing Body serve them.
Just a few years after the branch began operation, Nathan H. Knorr and his wife, Audrey, along with Frederick W. Franz and five others from the United States, visited Penang in January 1975. Though Brother Knorr had visited Singapore and Kuala Lumpur previously, this was his and Brother Franz’ first visit to Penang. The four members of the small Bethel family were thrilled with the visit, and all the missionaries in the country were invited to Penang for a special meeting and missionary meal. On the final night of the visit, 226 crowded into the Kingdom Hall in Penang to hear talks by the two traveling brothers. The audience was made up of brothers from many parts of Malaysia as well as some from Indonesia.
In subsequent years they have enjoyed visits from Lloyd Barry, Albert Schroeder, Lyman Swingle, and John Booth—all members of the Governing Body—each in his own way bringing rich spiritual refreshment and encouragement to the Bethel family, thousands of miles from Brooklyn headquarters.
The Inerasable Record of Early Missionaries
As with many countries and branches whose development began chiefly in the years following World War II, the zeal, faith, and example of integrity and tenacity of the early Gilead-trained missionaries can never be forgotten. It is largely on the foundation of their diligent, at times seemingly thankless, work that God has brought the increase. This is true in Malaysia. Consider the following missionaries.
Les and Margaret Franks: Brother Franks served first in Singapore and in Malaysia as circuit overseer. After marriage, he and Margaret served for five years in Kuala Lumpur, where there are now three flourishing congregations. In 1962 they were reassigned to Taiping, then six years later to Kuala Lumpur’s satellite town Petaling Jaya, to help develop the small group there into a congregation. This was achieved in 1974, and now two thriving congregations preach the good news in this materially prosperous town. In 1983 Brother and Sister Franks returned to New Zealand, where they continue faithfully in full-time service.—See Les Franks’ life story in The Watchtower, November 15, 1958.
Alfred and Thelma Wicke: Brother Wicke first served in Singapore, then in Penang for two years preceding World War II. Thelma served with him in Penang and Malaya after their marriage. They were forced to return to Australia during the war years, where they kept on in full-time service. Following Gilead training, in 1949 they were reassigned to Singapore and then later to Penang. Brother Wicke served at the branch office from its establishment in 1972, first as branch servant, then as Branch Committee coordinator, until Sister Wicke’s failing health with Alzheimer’s disease made necessary their reassignment to Bethel service in Australia. There Thelma can be better cared for by the branch infirmary.—See Alfred Wicke’s interesting life story in The Watchtower, August 1, 1961.
Norman and Gladys Bellotti: Brother and Sister Bellotti served in Singapore and in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, subsequently returning to Singapore to care for duties in the branch office. Next, they served for seven years as missionaries in Indonesia and later went to Papua New Guinea. In early 1986, Brother Bellotti began his fight with a terminal illness and finally fell asleep in death in April 1987. Sister Bellotti gallantly continues on, serving faithfully in her pioneer assignment in Brisbane, Australia.
Michael Freegard and Peter Price: In 1957 two fresh-faced English brothers arrived in Kuching, Sarawak, following their Gilead training. They did fine work there for two years before being reassigned to Malacca. Both eventually married zealous Chinese sisters and continued their missionary service until families came along. Brother Freegard now lives in England with his family, where he serves as an elder in a London congregation. After their sons grew up, Brother and Sister Price began serving at the Australia Bethel, where Brother Price cares for the Hospital Information Desk.
Unusual Efforts to Embrace the Truth
There is amazing similarity in the way most of the brothers and sisters in Malaysia took their stand for the truth. Either they were first contacted when young, usually still at school, and faced severe, violent family opposition, or they began to study with the Witnesses while a husband, wife, or other family member showed opposition. In most cases, Christlike endurance has paid off, and gradually the opposition decreased and eventually ceased altogether. Some of the parents and marriage mates who opposed so bitterly at first are now themselves dedicated Witnesses.
More than a few people have put forth great effort to learn the truth. For example, a special pioneer contacted a young woman who worked as a housemaid for long hours each day, from daylight until around midnight. However, the housemaid developed such a hunger for the truth that she soon requested three studies a week. As she made spiritual progress, she plucked up courage to ask her employer for time off to attend meetings. She was given permission as long as her housework did not suffer. This meant that to be free on meeting nights, she had to work extra hard, even missing her midday meal, and then run more than half a mile [1 km] to get to the Kingdom Hall on time. She would rise at 5:30 each morning to give herself an hour for study before starting work. She has recently begun sharing regularly in the preaching activity.
Some have learned the truth in an unusual way. One experience involves a Pentecostal church member who found an old Bible in a rubbish dump. It was a version in which Jehovah’s name appeared throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. So when one of our sisters called and used the name Jehovah in her discussion, the woman readily accepted the offer of a home Bible study. Her fellow church members tried hard to discourage her from studying with the Witnesses, but she did not want to tell the sister to stop calling. Instead, she decided to pray and ask the Lord to stop the study. Her fellow church members offered similar prayers. These prayers had no effect, and our sister kept on visiting her.
The interested person now began to wonder whether the prayers of Jehovah’s Witnesses and their God, Jehovah, were more powerful than hers. So she continued with her study and was delighted with the logical answers to her many questions. At the same time, she kept on attending her church, however, for she was deeply involved with speaking in tongues. But she confessed that each time she spoke in another tongue at church, she was distressed because she immediately felt so tired and drained of energy. Then she would develop splitting headaches and behave as though drunk and would vomit. Even when she prayed at home, her tongue would uncontrollably roll off words she could not understand. Then at night she began to see visions, supposedly of Jesus, and she became very frightened.
When she learned, with the help of the book Reasoning From the Scriptures, that her visions were not of Jesus but were undoubtedly evil spirits, she resolved that when she was troubled in this way again, she would call aloud on the name of Jehovah. So at the next Pentecostal meeting, when others were chanting “Praise the Lord!” she called out, “Praise Jehovah!” To her amazement, while all the others began to speak in tongues, she did not. “What am I doing here?” she then asked herself. “This is obviously not the true religion.” From that day on, she has never returned to the Pentecostal Church and now is a baptized publisher of the good news.
Another experience is of a Catholic lady who was progressing well in her Bible study with the Witnesses. She was particularly impressed when she learned that the Trinity is a pagan doctrine. The local priest called and demanded that she stop studying with the Witnesses and instead attend Bible discussions at the Catholic Church. She told him she was learning from the Bible things she had never heard at church. Then she said to him: “All right, if I stop studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, will you come and teach me the Bible once a week?” He replied quite angrily: “Do you think that you are so important that I, the priest, should come all the way here to teach you the Bible each week?” The discussion then became quite lively as the lady began to raise Bible questions that he could not answer. Finally, he made a feeble attempt to prove that today no one can really adhere to God’s Word, saying: “If you want to follow the Bible, you shouldn’t eat rice [as most Malaysians do]. Did Jesus eat bread or rice?” But instead of being impressed, his lost parishioner countered: “That is the most stupid argument I have ever heard.” At that the priest jumped up from his chair and stamped out of her house. This sincere erstwhile Catholic continues to make good progress with her home Bible study and has now severed all connections with the church.
Bethel Personnel Grows as Branch Expands
When the office at Penang changed its function in 1972 from serving as a literature depot under the Singapore branch to operating as a branch office for all of Malaysia, there were just 200 publishers. Thus, it was possible for Alfred and Thelma Wicke to care for the office and still devote some of their time to the field service as missionaries. But as the number of publishers grew, so did the amount of administrative work and other duties at the branch office. Since 1972 the Bethel family has grown and now consists of ten members.
The Branch Committee arrangement came into operation in 1976, and the committee appointed by the Governing Body was initially Les Franks, Robert Cunard, and Alfred Wicke, with Brother Wicke serving as coordinator. The committee was later increased to four members, who are currently Robert Cunard, Foo Chee Kang, Koh Chye Seng, and Ng Hock Siew. Brother Koh and his wife had attended the 73rd class of Gilead in 1982 and had been assigned back to Malaysia in circuit work. When Brother Wicke realized that he would have to leave his service in Malaysia in the foreseeable future because of Sister Wicke’s deteriorating health, Brother and Sister Koh were invited into the Bethel family. Later, Brother Koh was appointed as a member of the Branch Committee. Then, when Brother and Sister Wicke left Malaysia to return to Australia in October 1989, Brother Koh was appointed as Branch Committee coordinator.
The Truth Spreads to Sabah and Sarawak
No record of the work in Malaysia would be complete without recounting the patient endurance and diligent efforts put forth by many brothers and sisters of outstanding faith over the last 35 years to have the good news preached in East Malaysia. As can be seen on the map, East Malaysia is separated geographically from Peninsular Malaysia by the South China Sea and is made up of the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north and northwest coast of the large island of Borneo.
Both of these places have much that is unique to offer the visiting tourist. A noted feature of Sabah is its more than 13,000-foot [4,000 m]-high Mount Kinabalu. Sarawak, on the other hand, which was once known as the Land of the Headhunters, is today renowned for its fascinating longhouses. These are long structures made of hardwood and palm leaves, built on sturdy stilts, and usually situated on a riverbank at the fringe of the jungle. Each longhouse may have 40 or more dwellings side by side along a common hallway. This enables many families to live in the one long building.
As far back as the early 1950’s, there were members of two Witness families in Sabah. They lived in the capital, Jesselton, which has since had a name change to Kota Kinabalu. Then, in 1956, three dedicated brothers from the Philippines came to Sabah on a work contract and settled in the seaport town of Tawau. Their wives followed shortly afterward. Over the next few years, more brothers and their families came from the Philippines as part of their secular work. They began witnessing to others, and in due course a congregation was formed. The result was that by 1963 there were 28 publishers in Tawau.
For more than 20 years, the congregation used as their Kingdom Hall the home of one of the original brothers who had come from the Philippines. Then, in 1983, another meeting place was located on the second floor of a commercial building. While the new location was much more accessible—especially in the monsoon season—it had poor ventilation, hence was extremely hot. It was also very noisy and dusty because of the tire and car repair shops on the floor below. Happily, a large two-story house became available for rent in January 1985. The Tawau Congregation continued to grow spiritually and numerically over the years and now has 62 publishers.
In 1984 Brother and Sister Lua, who had been serving as special pioneers in Malacca, were reassigned to the Tawau Congregation. Their presence in the congregation, together with their strong lead in field service, gave a real boost to the congregation. Brother Lua has also been able to serve as substitute circuit overseer in Sabah at various times.
But the Tawau Congregation has also been greatly encouraged by another two devoted pioneer sisters. One of these is Sister Gan Yam Hwa, who came from Peninsular Malaysia as a pioneer in 1985. The other is Sister Victoria Ico, who was baptized in 1947 in the Philippines. In 1988 she moved from Tawau to the rural town of Keningau, which is one of the places where the brothers have built their own Kingdom Hall. This newly built hall was first used for the 1989 Memorial celebration and was dedicated on June 1 of that year.
The second congregation established in Sabah is at Kota Kinabalu, where the witness work had its small beginning in the 1950’s. There are now 71 publishers and 6 pioneers serving in this congregation. So with these two congregations and the five isolated groups in the towns of Keningau, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, and Kota Belud, and on the island of Labuan, the work is on a solid footing in the state of Sabah. The peak number of publishers, including pioneers, has now reached 180.
The sister state of Sarawak resembles Sabah in many ways. It also has five isolated groups. But it has three congregations—one of which has also built its own Kingdom Hall.
Both Sabah and Sarawak first received visits by circuit overseers from Singapore in the mid-1950’s. Then, two young English missionaries from the 28th class of Gilead, Michael Freegard and Peter Price, were assigned to Kuching, Sarawak’s capital. They arrived there in October 1957 and set up a missionary home. They obtained visas for one year and then had no trouble renewing them for the following year. But their application for the next extension was turned down with no explanation offered, and so reluctantly they had to leave Sarawak in November 1959. They were reassigned to Malacca to continue their missionary work.
Nevertheless, after their two years in Kuching, they were able to leave behind the nucleus of a congregation, with up to 25 attending the regular meetings held at the missionary home, and several of those they studied with were also sharing regularly in field service. During their time in Sarawak, the tract Man’s Only Hope for Peace was translated into the Iban language and was subsequently printed by the Society. The tract was distributed widely up the Rajang River and to the remote places in the interior of the state, where Iban is the only language spoken and understood.
The translation had been done by Eliab Bayang, the father of a large Iban, or Sea Dyak, family, who learned the truth from one of the missionaries. When Eliab Bayang died, he made provision in his will to bequeath a fine block of land to the Kuching Congregation. An attractive Kingdom Hall now stands on that site.
And so the Kingdom work also continues to grow steadily in Sarawak. The congregations are at Kuching, Miri, and Sibu, and the five isolated groups are at Bintulu, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Kapit, and Nanga Medamit. In the whole state, there are now 167 publishers and 16 pioneers serving faithfully.
Precious People Continue to Be Produced
Indeed, multicultural Malaysia has already produced many precious people. The prophet Haggai wrote under inspiration: “The desirable things of all the nations must come in.” (Hag. 2:7) Of course, the ratio of population to publishers is still quite high at about 1 Kingdom publisher to every 13,500 people, but the end is not yet, and we wait with interest to see what Jehovah will yet do before the sudden outbreak of the great tribulation.
Meanwhile, the zealous band of 1,391 Witnesses, now serving in 36 congregations and groups throughout this fascinating territory, will continue to spread the good news so that, with Jehovah’s help, many more precious people may yet be found.
See Brother Sewell’s life story in the November 1, 1988, Watchtower.
[Charts on page 252]
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Average Pioneer Chart
1958 1960 1970 1980 1992
Peak Publisher Chart
1958 1960 1970 1980 1992
[Maps on page 208]
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Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Official Languages: Bahasa Malaysia and English
Major Religion: Islam
Branch Office: Klang
Strait of Malacca
South China Sea
[Picture on page 213]
Ted Sewell and his wife, Isabell. Ted helped to spearhead the good news in the late 1930’s
[Picture on page 216]
George Powell worked in the Singapore depot from 1939 to 1941
[Pictures on page 220]
The famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where on their first visit in March 1947, Milton Henschel and Nathan Knorr announced that Gilead graduates were on their way
[Picture on page 221]
In 1956, Brother Knorr made his third visit to Singapore. With him was Don Adams from the headquarters staff
[Picture on page 222]
Neil Crockett and James Rowe arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, in 1951, to begin their missionary assignment
[Pictures on page 224]
Alfred and Thelma Wicke with Lloyd Barry, right, who was serving as zone overseer in August 1956. In the background is the old Chinese school used for meetings in Penang
Alfred and Thelma Wicke in 1989
[Picture on page 225]
Motorized bikes, called Cyclemasters, were used to spread the good news. Thelma Wicke, in 1951, is ready to start her day of preaching in Singapore
[Picture on page 226]
From left, Lee Siew Chan, Grace Sinnapillai and Ng Yoon Chin, graduates of Gilead’s 31st class in 1958, who helped expand the Kingdom message
[Picture on page 227]
Norman and Gladys Bellotti, missionaries since 1949, established a Kingdom foothold in Kuala Lumpur. They later served in Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea
[Picture on page 228]
Les Franks served as a traveling overseer, and after his marriage to Margaret, they both served in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya
[Picture on page 230]
Kingdom Hall and the missionary home of Brother and Sister Bellotti in Ipoh in 1960
[Picture on pages 236, 237]
Branch office and Bethel Home in Klang, 20 miles from Kuala Lumpur
[Picture on page 236]
Some Kingdom Halls are located inside high-rise buildings, such as this one in Kuala Lumpur
[Picture on page 243]
Missionaries who served in Singapore and Malaysia gathered outside the site of the 1958 Divine Will District Assembly in Singapore
[Picture on page 250]
Douglas King, center, serving as zone overseer, visiting with missionaries Peter Price and Michael Freegard in 1959
[Picture on page 251]
Branch Committee. From left, Ng Hock Siew, Foo Chee Kang, Robert Cunard, and Koh Chye Seng