One month after Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted by suspected Islamic extremists, Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims united to pray for his safe recovery.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors USA reports that vigils for Pastor Koh were held in four different locations around Malaysia - even though police attempted to halt the services by setting up roadblocks. Hundreds of people attended each event, holding a candle and praying for 10 minutes according to their respective faiths for the missing pastor.
Pastor Koh's wife, Susanna, spoke at one event, moving attendees to tears. She expressed thanks to everyone for their support, and begged her husband's kidnappers to release him safely.
As earlier reported by The Gospel Herald, Pastor Koh, 62, was abducted from a street while on his way to a friend's house. Leaked CCTV footage of the attack shows a military-style, professionally executed operation in which seven cars and at least 15 men took part.
The pastor's car was seen turning off a highway as three black SUVs surrounded it and forced it to a stop. At least eight men in black emerged from the SUVs, and another man emerged from a car behind them to record the operation. The entire operation took a mere 40 seconds.
Koh's family has heard nothing from the kidnappers and now fears the worst; Koh's son, Jonathan, filed a second police report on suspicion that his father was murdered by Muslim extremists. He explained that the reason for the report was the lack of information or a ransom demand, even though the family had offered a reward of about $22,500.
As the family continues to look for answers, a 31-year-old Uber driver, Lam Chang Nam, attempted to take advantage of the situation, falsely claiming to be connected with Koh's abduction in order to extort money from the family in exchange for the pastor's release. Last week, Nam was charged with extortion.
Koh was previously at the center of controversy in 2011, when his NGO, Harapan Komuniti, was accused by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity following a raid at a thanksgiving and fundraising dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church.
In a statement released earlier this month, the Malaysian Bar Council said it was troubled by the "little headway" that police have made in locating the missing pastor.
"The Malaysian Bar is troubled by the continued failure and inability of the police to locate and secure the safe release of Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo," said Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. "Although a month has passed since the abduction, the police appear to have made little headway in locating the missing pastor and/or apprehending his abductors."
Thiru said the inaction of the government is particularly disappointing because the "vicious and outrageous act" happened in broad daylight. He added that concerns have been raised as to whether the act was perpetrated against Koh due to the social work he is known to be actively engaged in.
"The Malaysian Bar urges the police to act more efficaciously, as the lack of progress so far has manifestly eroded public confidence in our criminal justice system," said Thiru. He also urged federal and state authorities and their agencies to cooperate fully with the police task force investigating the case.