Durian and the Gospel: Stinky Stench or Appealing Aroma?

By Sarah R.

Have you ever visited Asia and seen the “No Durian” signs in hotels and airports? Or have you had the chance to taste this “King of Fruits”, as it’s belovedly called here in Malaysia? It seems for those of us living in lands where this spiky fruit grows high up on trees, and falls to the ground only between 12midnight - 4am, one either clearly has an aversion to the smell and taste, or an addiction, never getting enough. In our own family of 7, we have 3 hard core durian “LOVERS”, and 4 that would prefer the fruit to be kept outside of the house when it’s consumed. One could go as far as to say that the aroma of durian is either an aroma that brings life, or an aroma that brings death.   

When we first left our hometown for a predominantly Muslim, metropolitan city in Asia 15 years ago, a friend prayed that we would “spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him” among those we befriended and did business with. Our friend was referring to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ amongst those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?”

As we assist Resource Global this year in exploring what God may have for the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we are praying that future cohort members would carry the aroma of Christ amongst the leaders and influencers of this diverse and strategically poised land.  Recently in a conversation with a top Malaysian marketplace leader here who has worked high up in one of the most prestigious and powerful companies of this country, he made the comment that too often “faith and work initiatives in Malaysia can use the lingo of conquering the marketplace for Christ.” He went on to share how he feels this perspective could be a mistake.  Instead of aiming for conquest, should we instead ask for God to make us an aroma?

In this very religious country, what is needed is not necessarily simply preaching of the gospel but living out the gospel in our daily lives, before our co-workers, neighbors and friends.  It means showing with our actions, more than with our words, the love of One whose love never fails. It means having the aroma spread out in unexpected ways, pointing to an integrity, a sense of character, small choices that speak loudly.  To some the gospel will always be a stench, perhaps like durian is to those who don’t like durian.  But to others, the gospel shown and “smelt” through devoted lives, will be the aroma of life.

Sarah and Jesse R. are our City Directors in Malaysia to see if we can start a Resource Global Cohort in 2020 or 2021.