JOHOR BARU: Every year, Nepali Ezikal Thapamagar spends Christmas in a quiet scale amidst his friends and church members.
However, this Christmas, he had a wonderful time with thousands of people not just from his country, but also from Indonesia and Vietnam.
There were a large number of locals also present at the Christmas celebrations organised by the Johor Baru Calvary City Church (CCC).
Ezikal, who works in a paper factory in Taman Daya, said the Christmas celebrations at the Johor Baru Indoor Stadium was a wonderful experience for him.
“I have only seen such celebrations in television but to be part of this huge gathering with worship, performances and listening to the Christmas message was a great experience that I cannot describe in words,” the 27-year-old who has been in Johor for the past three years explained.
Indonesian Consulate General Jonus Lumban Tobing who was also present at the celebrations was also elated to be part of the event together with his fellow countrymen.
Jonus said it was a wonderful experience for him to be able to celebrate with fellow Indonesians, not just from Johor but Malacca, Pahang, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan.
“I thank CCC for organising and inviting all of us,” added Jonus, who attended the event with his wife and children.
His wife, who is also a pastor, took several minutes to pray for those who were present at the celebrations and also for CCC senior pastor Benedict Rajan and his family.
Jonus added that such celebration was good as it would help ease the heartache of those who were unable to go back to Indonesia to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones.
“I feel that spiritual guidance is also important for my people who are employed in various sectors in Malaysia. At least 10% of them here are Christians,” he said, adding that the mammoth gathering was also good for him to remind his fellow Indonesian about the do’s and don’ts when in Malaysia.
Jonus, who hoped to gather 10,000 people for Christmas next year, added that he was responsible for about 300,000 Indonesian workers working in various sectors in Malacca, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Pahang.
“I want my people to be careful and not get duped by irresponsible people such as the recent case of Indonesians who drowned in B andar Penawar in Penggerang when they tried to leave the country illegally.
“This is such a tragic case and I hope that my people who need help will come to the consulate here for assistance,” he said.
(Recently the marine police recovered at least 11 bodies believed to be Indonesians that were washed ashore in Teluk C in Bandar Penawar. They are believed to have been trying to sneak out when their boat capsized due to rough seas).
However, planning for the mammoth occasion started many weeks with various committees set up to oversee the preparations for the event.
Meanwhile Rajan said that he was elated with the overwhelming crowd who attended the event not just locals but also others including Orang Asli, Vietnamese, Indonesians and Nepalese.
“We combined all our different services and brought all our congregations from all our satellite churches to be together as a big family for this celebration,” he added.
Indonesian pastor Sammy Hartanto also delivered a message in English which was translated in Mandarin, Tamil and Bahasa Indonesia.
Besides performances by various groups, there were also popular Christmas carols such as ‘Joy to the World’, ‘Hark The Herald Angles Sing’, ‘Feliz Navidad’ and ‘Jingle Bells’.
All the visitors were also given goodie bags and balloons.