Module 1 - Economic Empowerment

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a devotional series by



Devotional Module 1


01 Introduction .................................................................



Integral Mission...........................................................




Theme Verse for 2022: Isaiah 43:19...................................



Devotional 1

Economic Empowerment:

Conserving Creation’s Fruitfulness ...................................


05 Devotional 2

Economic Empowerment:

Financial Literacy & Income Generation............................


06 Devotional 3

Economic Empowerment:

The Right to Property (Land Rights)....................................

07 Lectio Divina

Elisha Helps a Poor Widow: 2 Kings 4:1-7............................

08 How to lead Lectio and Visio Divina..........................





Acknowledgement......................................................... 16

Devotional Module 1


Why do we do what we do? That is what the devotional aims to answer. As a

Christian social concern agency, Malaysian CARE draws inspiration and strength

from the Bible to guide its work in its 40-year existence. Our vision, to be the visible

expression of the wholistic mission of Christ to the poor and needy, is rooted in the

foundation of our faith. Therefore, these devotionals are one way for us to learn the

values of Jesus and how our faith relates to society.

By studying Scripture, we can understand our role in empowering communities, as

we work together as one body of Christ in finding hope during times of despair.

The devotionals are based on the four key empowerment areas of Malaysian CARE.

They are not meant to be exhaustive but to give a brief overview of the work.

Economic Empowerment

Child Empowerment

Youth Empowerment

Social Empowerment

You are encouraged to use the devotionals once a week for three weeks followed by a

week of Lectio or Visio Divina.


Integral mission or wholistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration

of the gospel. As in the life of Jesus, being, doing and saying are at the heart of our

integral task. We get a clear picture of what this means when Jesus sent out the

twelve disciples. At the core of his instructions was a two-fold mission:

“As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise

the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:7-8).

Word and works are meant to be together. We are told that he died, not just for the

forgiveness of sins, but for the redeeming of the entire creation, to reconcile to

himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, and bring all things

together under him. The work of Christ on the cross has far-reaching social and

cosmic consequences (Rom 8:19-22, Col 1:20, Eph 1:9-10). God by his grace has given

local churches the task of integral mission. Therefore the future of integral mission

is in planting and enabling local churches to transform the communities of which

they are part of. Churches as caring and inclusive communities are at the heart of

what it means to do integral mission.


1Adapted from Integral Mission: Biblical Foundations (Melba Maggay) and the Micah Network Declaration on

Integral Mission


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“See I am Doing A New Thing!” (Isaiah 43:19)

Read Isaiah 43:16-21

This passage from the book of Isaiah was written when Judah was suffering under

Babylonian rule. Physically, economically, culturally, and religiously, the people felt the

might of Babylon, and it seems that one of the tasks of the prophet Isaiah was to rebuild

the people’s understanding of themselves as God’s own people and to reassure them

that their God was fully capable of taking on the Babylonian superpower in order to

save them. We see this reflected in verse 16 as God is described as the Lord “who made

a way through the sea, drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements…

never to rise again.”

The similarities between Isaiah 43:16-17 and the description of the miraculous rescue of

the people at the sea in Exodus 14 and 15 strongly suggest that the prophet is invoking

their cultural memory of that dramatic story of redemption from Egypt.

However it wasn’t enough to remember the good old days but to focus on building a

future. Isaiah 43 compels us to view our experience of God’s grace in the past as a

springboard so that we view neither present nor future with fear, but with expectation.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

2 This bible study is adapted from Commentary on Isaiah 43:16-21 by Callie Plunket-Brewton


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In a seemingly hopeless situation, the prophet calls on the people not to lose heart but

to look with anticipation for the signs of God’s approaching redemption, for the “new

thing” that is coming. Even the wild animals that live there are amazed at the

marvelous deeds of this God who “gives water in the wilderness.” (v 20).

I am reminded of the poem “A Homecoming” by Wendell Berry:

"…In the trust of old love, cultivation shows

a dark and graceful wilderness

at its heart. Wild

in that wilderness, we roam

the distance of our faith;

safe beyond the bounds

of what we know. O love,

open. Show me

my country. Take me home."

“Safe beyond the bounds of what we know” is as apt a description of a faith journey as

any I have heard. In times of uncertainty and fear, Isaiah 43 urges us to be alert for the

signs of God’s continued presence, working to sustain and redeem it even to this day.


Discussion questions:

Observe - What new things do you see God doing around you?

Reflect - What does this new thing mean to you?

Practice - How can it apply to your life and ministry?

Prayer Points:

Yourself - Pray for hope and resilience

People around you - Pray for those affected by the pandemic that they will be


Nation - Pray for our leaders to uphold justice and good governance



Devotional Module 1





(Sustainable Agriculture)

The world created by God is bountiful, but it can only be fruitful in the long term with

effective management. Malaysian CARE partners with Orang Asli and Orang Asal

communities to set up agriculture projects so that they can be self-sufficient in their lands

while avoiding the ecological destruction that often results from commercial farming

techniques. By providing sustainable agriculture research and training for the indigenous

people of Malaysia, they can earn a decent living while maintaining the earth’s biodiversity

through their care for the land and forests.

‘How many are your works Oh Lord! In

wisdom you have made

them all; the earth is full of your creatures’

(Psalm 104:24).

Read Ezekiel 34:17–19

What does this passage reveal about how we should treat God’s creation?

How should we consider the needs of other people and other creatures?

3 Adapted from Tearfund’s Jubilee: 50 Bible Studies on Poverty & Justice (Study 49), 2018


Devotional Module 1


Because God made all things and holds all things together through Jesus (Colossians 1:15–

20), everything belongs to him. While God leads us to green pastures and pure water (Psalm

23), the earth belongs to God alone (Psalm 24:1). His are gifts we do not own. His are gifts

that must never be taken from us or the other creatures!

Keeping our places fruitful for all God’s creatures brings praise to God, the creator and owner

of all things!

Read Deuteronomy 20:19–20

What commands are given here about the use of trees during war?

In war, the rules of life change. People can forget to love in the same way. The environment

suffers too. In those days, trees were cut down and used to attack enemy cities. God knew

that in times of war his people needed to be able to use trees to defend themselves or attack

their enemies, so he didn’t prohibit cutting them down altogether. Instead he tried to limit

the damage by instructing his people not to cut down the fruit trees. Why? Because it was not

in their future interests. No fruit trees meant no fruit, which means less food and more

hungry people. Here is plain teaching that even in times of great need, we must also be wise

about how we steward the environment.

Discussion Questions:

What are we doing to care for creation and God’s creatures? Do we resist the desire to be

greedy (Matthew 6:33)?

Can you think of how development in your local area has resulted in negative

consequences? (e.g. landslides, floods, crop production, pollution)

How could people have responded differently, in a way that met both the immediate needs

and provided for the long term?


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Prayer Points:

Pray that the sustainable agriculture courses run by Malaysian CARE would be wellreceived

and have good results that will encourage more indigenous people to adopt

these techniques.

Pray for indigenous communities to have creativity and confidence in working the land

amidst the climate change resulting from human activity.

Closing Prayer


May the God of truth –

open our ears and eyes

to the wind whistling through the trees.

May the God of justice –

open our minds to the flowing actions of the waters

from refreshing rain, to gentle brook,

from mighty river, to raging sea

May the God of love –

open our hearts

to the cries of his creation groaning for redemption

And enable us. . . to pursue Jesus

With truth, justice, and love.


4 Adapted from “Benediction” by Brooke Prentis - Common Grace Australia


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While Malaysia aims to become a high income country in the next few years, many people

living in Malaysia are still struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis. Economic

downturns, inflation, and ill-health affect the poor more than anyone else as they do not have

enough savings and investments to help them stay afloat in difficult times. Malaysian CARE

has developed the Financial Literacy Programme and the Koperasi Sengoi Pribumi Perak cooperative

to help poor communities save and spend wisely so they can move out of poverty

and economic vulnerability. This programme has been implemented by churches and

partners across East and West Malaysia, empowering people by giving them a “hand up”

instead of a handout.

5 Adapted from Tearfund, Footsteps Magazine no.26, 1996


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Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–13.

The apostle Paul was deeply troubled by a report that some members of the church at

Thessalonica were idle without doing any work, but were active in a wrong way, for example, by

interfering in other people’s business (v 11). This created a bad influence in the community

which eventually had to take on the burden of providing for such idlers (v 8-9). So Paul, using

himself and his friends as models, encourages the Thessalonians to work together in order to

generate income and live on their own earnings (v 12). Let us look at the characteristics of Paul

as a model for ourselves:

Although Paul, as an apostle, had authority to receive income from the churches he had

established (v 9), he instead chose to set an example of supporting himself by hard work.

Paul generated income by doing the work in which he had skill and experience. He had been

trained in the trade of tent making (leatherwork in making tents) and so he continued with

this trade in Corinth (Acts 18:3). We also need to recognise our own skills and talents and

use them to provide our income.

Paul worked together with others familiar with the same trade. He joined the couple, Aquila

and Priscilla, with the same profession and worked with them (Acts 18:1–3, 2 Thess 3:9 ‘we

worked night and day’).

Paul’s work supported both himself and his companions (Acts 20:34). He also had a deep

concern for the poor and needy. He encouraged the Ephesians to work so they could give to

those in need (Eph 4:28). He had motivated the Gentile churches to make contributions to

the poor in Jerusalem (Rom 15:26–27). Therefore we, as God’s people, are called to work

hard by using our skills, and to generate income both individually and collectively so that we

can support ourselves and those in need, whether our Christian workers or the poor.


Devotional Module 1


It will be impossible to support ourselves, our families, the church and our community unless

we develop the habit of ‘saving’ a small amount regularly out of what we earn. Otherwise our

hard work may be in vain. If Joseph had not stored up food during the seven years of plenty, he

and his people, both in Egypt and Canaan, could hardly have survived the time of famine

(Genesis 41:33–57). Co-operative efforts with an attitude of ‘saving’ can build a prosperous

community. It is for this reason that Malaysian CARE has set up a cooperative for the Orang

Asli through which they can save money for the future as well as take loans for incomegeneration

projects. Generating income and taking steps to manage our resources well can ease

the burden of economic injustice and inequality.

Discussion Questions:

What skills do we have? How can we use them to empower others to lead a self-supporting


Who are the needy in our community? How can we help them, both as individuals and as a


How can we use both our individual and our collective church income to be more effective

in reaching out to our local communities?

Prayer Points:

Pray for churches to be empowered to move beyond welfare approaches in addressing

poverty and towards a more holistic approach of partnership and empowerment.

Pray for families who face multiple vulnerabilities (e.g. single parents, migrants, unsafe

neighbourhoods, disabilities) that they would recognise their God-given dignity as persons

made in his image and be able to use their skills to support themselves.

Pray for structural change to reduce income inequality, unfair working conditions for lowincome

workers, and for Christian employers to lead the way in restoring justice for the



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One of the biggest challenges the indigenous people in Malaysia are facing today is the loss of

their land and livelihoods to encroachment or outright dispossession. The cultural territories of

the Orang Asli (Peninsular Malaysia) and Orang Asal (East Malaysia) are not recognised and

protected. In response, Malaysian CARE is working with indigenous people, raising awareness

about the need to protect native customary land and equipping them to work towards legal

recognition of their land.

Throughout the Scriptures, God reveals his design for true human flourishing, and how it is to

be worked out in community. We also consider how we, as followers of Christ, can learn from

his example in taking steps forward to extend the shalom of God’s true prosperity into our

communities. Over time, we have lost the idea that land and universe belongs, not to ourselves,

but to another, to God. God created all lands, all peoples, all that is; and God sustains all lands,

all peoples, and all that is.

Read Genesis 1:26, 28-30


This Bible study is adapted from “God’s Heart for Indigenous people”, a church resource by Australians

Together and “Australia –whose land? A call for recompense” by Peter Adam, Ridley Melbourne


Devotional Module 1


Watch the video “Orang Asli and their Land”

https://tinyurl.com/OAland (5:15)

‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth;

and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their

lands.’ (Acts 17:26)

So all lands belong to God, and he distributed them to many nations, setting the time and places

where they would live. The land is God’s land. To respect and honour God is to know that he

made Malaysia, and to treat the existing indigenous peoples who were here before us with the

same respect as we would expect for ourselves too.

Even though we may not have directly done this ourselves, we can repent on behalf of our

nation. Without realising, we could have indirectly benefited from the wrongs done to

indigenous people for example, using palm oil from plantations on indigenous land or cheap

electricity from dams that have destroyed their homes. The indigenous people of Peninsular

Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak continue to face hardship and encroachment from the

government and big businesses without just compensation. Their customs, traditions and

ownership of ancestral land are ignored and suppressed in favour of financial profit, little of

which adequately makes its way back to the native inhabitants of the land.


Devotional Module 1


“Some say that we here don’t know how to read maps.

But our elders don’t really need to.

From this durian tree to that durian tree, from this river

to that river, see! Our kampung!”

While the history of immigration and native customary rights maybe too complex to be dealt

with in one seating, we know that loving our neighbours includes respecting their right to live

in a safe and habitable environment.

Discussion Questions:

What does the original design of Eden tell us about God’s plan for human flourishing?

How does the current status of the indigenous people in Malaysia compare to God’s design

of shalom?

How does the example of Christ point us to the kind of posture we should take as his

followers? (e.g. Phil 2:3-7)

Prayer Points:

Pray for the land protection network of the Koperasi Sengoi Pribumi Perak (supported by

Malaysian CARE) to continue to flourish and be effective in helping the Orang Asli to

safeguard their land and way of life.

Pray for the authorities and courts to uphold the rights of the Orang Asli to dwell in their

native customary land.


Devotional Module 1




The Widow’s Olive Oil

1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out

to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that

he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my

two boys as his slaves.”

2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you

have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small

jar of olive oil.”

3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty

jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door

behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is

filled, put it to one side.”

5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They

brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars

were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped


7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil

and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”


Devotional Module 1



Lectio Divina is an Early Church practice of scriptural reading,

meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God

and to increase knowledge of God's word. We slow down. We read a

short passage more than once. We chew it over slowly and carefully.

We savour it. Scripture begins to speak to us in a new way. It speaks

to us personally, and aids that union we have with God through

Christ who is himself the Living Word.

So, lectio is not Bible study or even an alternative to Bible study but

something radically different. The practice understands Scripture as

a meeting place for a personal encounter with the Living God. It is a

practice we come to with the desire to be changed at all sorts of

levels. Through it we allow ourselves to be formed in the likeness of

Christ; it is about formation rather than instruction.

Traditionally, Lectio Divina consist of four elements: read, meditate,

pray, and contemplate. If you are doing it in a group, sharing is

welcomed but not compulsory. When undertaken in a group setting

lectio is about listening to the experience of others and how that

might inform your experience. It is not a discussion and no one

comments on what another person shares.

7 Adapted from web resources by Lausanne Europe, the Calvin Institute of Christian worship and

Anglican Communion.


Devotional Module 1


A facilitator should be assigned to give verbal prompts to guide the group through these steps.

Prepare: Pray to quieten yourself and ask God to speak to you. The facilitator may then start

with an opening prayer.

Steps (approximately 30 minutes):

1. One individual reads the passage slowly.

2. Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention (1 minute)

3. Each shares the word or phrase around the group (3-5 minutes, no discussion)

4. Another person reads the passage slowly from another translation, if possible.

5. Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today (1 minute)

6. Each shares (3-5 minutes, no discussion)

7. Passage is read a third time by another reader and in a different translation if possible,

or even another language.

8. Each person names or writes: “From what I’ve heard and shared, what do I believe God

wants me to do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way? (5 minutes)

9. Each shares their answer (5-10 minutes in total, no discussion)

10. Each prays for the person on their right, naming what was shared. (5 minutes)

11. Close with the Lord’s Prayer and silence.

Unless otherwise stated, scripture quotations are taken from The Holy

Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978 1984 2011

by Biblica, Inc. TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


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Malaysian CARE acknowledges that materials for this devotional has been

adapted from various resources as indicated in the footnotes. This

devotional is intended for private usage and not for commercial purposes.

The cover photo was taken by Frederick Foo at Ladang CARE.

Please contact communications@malaysiancare.org for any questions or

clarifications pertaining to this devotional series.




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