We grew up listening to the peculiar tales of the Ba’Kelalan revival. But it wasn’t until a particular night in 2013 when the river was low, and the dam couldn’t generate electricity, that we entertained ourselves by listening to story after story of the revival told by Jacintha’s grandparents in a candle-lit room in their home in Ba’Kelalan. As we began to wrestle with the stories, we found their strangeness both paralysing and compelling.
We wondered how we would tell these stories to others: would they be confusing, would they encourage faith, or would they be overwhelming in all their strangeness? Indeed, these stories have been all of those things to us — we have been inspired by them as we have wrestled with them. There is something compelling about the simple faith of the Lun Bawang people in Ba’Kelalan as they encountered this revival, something powerful about a God who moved in such a personal way among them, and something faith-stirring about the resulting change that Ba’Kelalan saw with this revival. We think it is a story worth sharing.
As second- and third-generation Malaysian Christians, we have felt particularly compelled to work on this revival story as it is our story: a story of our family, our spiritual heritage. A local story, told and lived out by Malaysians. It’s a story set in our own backyard, albeit a remote one that is a 7-hour four-wheel drive from the nearest town in Lawas. And so, early this year we decided to undertake a project to document the story of the Ba’Kelalan revival. We timed our visit with the annual prayer revival meeting in July, and filmed as much as we could. This short film is our best attempt at telling a 13-year story in a bite-sized way, though inadequate in light of the many more stories that can be told. Our hope is that this film generates interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in Ba’Kelalan and beyond.