We got up early to go do laundry. The first place we went to had a broke coin dispenser so we trekked 15 minutes to the next closest one. The machines were newer, we started our load, and got some nasi lamek (coconut rice on a banana leaf with spicey Chili sauce, hard boiled egg, red bean, and fried anchovies) from the cafe across the street.
We sat down on the curb outside the laundromat as it was far too hot inside and closed our eyes to say prayers and thank God for the food.
When we opened our eyes, a young, dark skinned Indian looking, scruffily bearded man was standing there smiling. He asked us if we had been praying and if we were Christians. We said yes, and he shared with almost relief in his voice that he was too.
Over the next hour we asked him questions and started to hear his story.
John (name changed here for anonymity) had come to know the presence of Jesus when he was 3 years old. As grew up he began to read the Bible to learn more about the Jesus whom he had experienced. He faced physical abuse from his father, and alienation because of his faith in Christ from his family, who were Hindus, and from classmates at the British school he attended.
Multiple times he had been forced from his family home for his faith for extended periods of time including now, when at a young looking 31 years of age, he was in Melaka looking to help people and meet other Christians as he was guided by the Holy Spirit.
Weary from being without a home or family, he mentioned repeatedly his reliance on the love of Christ as we live through the end of the age and the prophetic promise of our reuniting with Him at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).
We shared about what it is like following Christ in different parts of the world. In some ways it is very different such as the broader context of most of the population in Asia following a religion but Western countries continuing to become more secular and idolize careers or family instead. Yet as we talked we found many similarities including the lukewarm faith of many professed believers and the continued allure to Christians and non-Christians around the world of materialism, lust, pride, and selfishness.
John continued to reiterate what an encouragement it was to meet others who earnestly followed Christ. He expressed how thankful he was that the Spirit had led him to meet us, that he had been awoken unusually early and led by the Spirit to walk the street that had the laundromat where we were forced to go to from the broken coin dispenser at our first laundromat.
As we continued to talk and he shared more about his experience growing up in a Hindu home, his life, and his faith, I couldn’t help but be amazed by how the Spirit worked to bring together our two stories for a brief rainy morning in Melaka. We parted ways with a hug and Suzie and I ran out into the pouring rain to get back to our Airbnb.
Our Airbnb hosts of the youth hostel were Lisa & Carol. Walking through the lobby our final morning there, I saw Carol was reading a Mandarin translation of Peter Thief’s book Zero to One and asked how she was enjoying it. She was surprised I had recognized the book and I mentioned how much I had learned when I had read it a few years ago.
As we were packing up to leave, they messaged and kindly offered to drive us to the bus terminal. They also mentioned how they were looking forward to an opportunity to get to know us.
Friendly, unexpected, and certainly a message a bit outside of the usual host playbook that we had gotten used to on the trip.
But, we gave them the benefit of the doubt and hopped in their mid 2000s black Honda Civic. It was lunchtime so we asked if there was any local favourites and they said they had the perfect spot.
Off we drove to “the best coconut shakes in town” at an outdoor restaurant out in the suburbs called Klebang Original Coconut Shake.
Carol was talkative, asking us where we were from and what we did for work. We asked about them too.
Carol & Lisa had met as teachers in Johor, the Malaysian border city across the causeway from Singapore. Reading stories about startups including local success Grab (which best out Uber in the South East Asian markets), they both decided to quit their jobs and start one themselves.
As a platform to connect tourists with locals to answer questions and meet for more authentic travel experiences, they had hired a development firm and had a mobile app in beta.
When the youth hostel in Melaka went up for sale, they bought it as an opportunity to talk with their potential users, tourists, as well as have some cash flow to support their startup efforts. Carol was even starting to learn how to code so she could bring more of the software development in house.
We had a wonderful lunch filled with great food, coconut shakes, and swapping stories of life in startups.
We are very thankful that we took a chance and got to know Carol & Lisa, and for their wonderful hospitality during our stay in Melaka.