Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is the picture of economic growth. Its shiny new malls rival any in Asia. International companies make up the bulk of the corporate sector. It’s a world that Ravee feels comfortable in.

Ravee Suntheralingam (right) knew refugees were a Gospel opportunity.

The former CEO of a Seattle-based tech company now runs a local nonprofit, Communitas Wangsa Maju. When he left the corporate sector, he says, “God had plans to use me to impact the nations – even if I didn’t know it at the time.”

Since 2005, Malaysia has seen an influx of refugees. The majority come from the country’s troubled neighbor Myanmar; others from China, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan.

It wasn’t until I met a refugee face-to-face and got to know him as a person that I understood the real problems.

Ravee Suntheralingam

Refugees have an uncertain status because Malaysia did not sign the 1951 Refugee Convention Treaty. Therefore, they do not receive government protection. They are treated as undocumented migrants. Children cannot attend schools without identification, and no one is allowed to get a job until their UNHCR documentation is complete — which can take more than two years.

At first, Ravee didn’t take the problem too seriously.

“I did what everyone does — throw money. I gave money to help furnish apartments and for food. It wasn’t until

I met a refugee face-to-face and got to know him as a person that I understood the real problems. Refugees were physically abused and lived in fear. There was a great injustice. I decided I had to do something about it.”

Haggai Leader Experience

Ravee stepped out in faith, and doors opened. Friends from church invited him to visit a school designed just for refugee children. One friend suggested he attend the Haggai Leader Experience (HLE) in Maui.

“My initial research gave me the impression that it was a Christian management institute,” he admits.

He discovered it was much, much more than that. Once there, he could not hide his formerly lackadaisical approach to following Christ. He saw that Haggai was about living out the Gospel.

He thought he’d made a mistake coming. But what turned Ravee around was meeting his financial sponsors and realizing the commitment they had made by bringing him to the Haggai Leader Experience. As a result, he dug into the Bible with a new fervor and soaked up wisdom from Haggai faculty and fellow classmates. He caught the vision for ending Gospel poverty not only for his refugees, but beyond.

“Before the Haggai Leader Experience, I didn’t really know how to reach out to communities,” he admits. “It was there that I understood belief systems and how to present the Gospel in culturally relevant ways. The Haggai Leader Experience really extended my perspective.”

Ravee Suntheralingam

Living Out Faith

Ravee returned home just as Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims were fleeing their home country, pushing the number of UNHCR-registered asylum-seekers toward its current level of 175,760.

“It’s a criminal offense to share the Gospel with Muslims in Malaysia,” he explains. But his Haggai Leader Experience had prepared him for that. “I win hearts and minds by loving them. They see that I’m different from those who are abusing them. They get to see the love of Jesus through me and my lifestyle evangelism.”

Ravee now invests time in a Children’s Training Centre, so an entire school of refugee children see his faith lifestyle. He helps train teachers and the older teenagers not only in the Haggai Leader Experience modules, but also in vocational jobs in technology. They pass this knowledge on to their classes. His goal is to help the refugee children and their parents succeed in life — spiritually and physically.

Haggai has also sparked Ravee’s interest in reaching the communities that refugees come from. To date he’s been on seven self-funded mission trips to India and one to Myanmar. Over the same period, he has passed on his Haggai training to over 900 people in 42 individual equipping sessions, in 10 unique locations, in three different nations.

Not infrequently, the journeys are arduous and fraught with danger. “I bring the Haggai equipping to locations that are remote  and without proper comforts — electricity or hotels — regardless of age, social standing, or educational qualification.”

Ravee is also heavily involved in his country’s politics. In 2018, he was appointed secretary of the International Bureau of the People’s Justice Party of Malaysia, which he has used as a platform for holding the government accountable on social justice.

In the recent elections, he took

his followers into a polling station to prevent an attempt at election fraud. In doing so, he helped end the Barisan National coalition’s six-decade-long monopoly on power – its administration dogged by allegations of corruption.

Ravee has intervened to resolve targeted violence and opposed

the detention of refugees and the trafficking of migrant workers, using political influence and engagement with police and human rights organizations.

He prays that these amazing refugees will become an army for God as they disperse around the world to new homes and countries. He prays that they will live focused on Jesus and His mission. He knows that they will take the Gospel message with them and be equipped to share. He wants them to join him in ending Gospel poverty.