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'I'm confident that wherever Raymond is, God is there with him': Wife of pastor missing for 4 years still has hope

by Cara Bentley

Susanna Koh is praying that her husband will still be found after he was abducted in Malaysia but says the situation has strengthened her faith. 

Raymond Koh went missing on 13th February 2017 on his way to a friend's house, with CCTV footage thought to be of his abduction showing a car surrounded by three black cars being forced to stop. Cars in the area were diverted by motorbikes, with it appearing a planned operation. 



Mr Koh is thought to have been taken by the police for evangelising to Muslims in Malaysia as it is illegal. A police report was filed stating that on the same day a car was "boxed" by three vehicles. The driver was seen being dragged out of his car and put in one of the vehicles. 

His wife, Susanna Koh, who is being supported by religious freedom charity Open Doors, told Premier: "The last four years has been long and difficult and challenging in many ways. Firstly, the uncertainty of what happened to Pastor Raymond and not knowing where he is - we haven't heard from him. And also the police investigations into the disappearance did not have any resolution."

Susanna last saw her husband that morning, the day before Valentine's Day 2017: "He said goodbye to me, he said 'I love you' and that was the last time that I saw him." 

The family have tried to get answers from the former Prime Minister, who said he would speak to the inspector-general of the police, they also met with the former home minister and current Prime Minister, who promised to get to the bottom of it but there have been no updates on Mr Koh's whereabouts.  

The National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia conducted a public enquiry into the disappearance of Pastor Koh. It determined that he was a victim of enforced disappearance carried out by agents of the state, namely the Special Branch, an intelligence unit affiliated with the Malaysian Police. As a result, the government formed a Special Task Force to look into his abduction, and that of a Shia Muslim, Amri Che Mat, who converted from Sunni Islam, to establish where both of them are. The report has not been published, over a year after it should have been.

Susanna explained: "The Human Rights Commission actually noted that the police investigations were riddled with holes and inconsistencies. I felt it was not credible. They were not following a very credible line of investigation because if the person had been kidnapped, they would really put all their resources to find that person but we found out that in some areas, they were actually hindering the investigations and they seem to be dragging their feet on this."

The family therefore decided to file a civil lawsuit against the Government and the police last year and are waiting for a date for the trial. 

When asked where she thinks he is, Susanna replied: "I suspect that he's been arrested and kept in maximum security jail where it's difficult to escape, because he's quite smart, he will know how to escape. And, of course, I hope that he is still alive. And the other three people too, that have also similarly disappeared. I hope that...yeah, alive. And then they will be released soon.

Despite not seeing her husband for four years, Susanna said the situation had made God more personal to her and that she could see how God worked evil for good. 

"I must say that in the beginning, it was quite traumatic and difficult for our family and we were traumatised and I had panic attacks. 

"On top of that, we were intimidated by police questioning. But I thank God that, in the third week, I went for a silent retreat, and that time of really focusing on God and his Word and worship really strengthened me and lifted my spirit and the Holy Spirit filled me with boldness. And it was a turning point in my life, I came back invigorated and was able to face the police, the press and even the politicians, the ministers."

Susanna added that she can see how God has worked the situation 'for the good of those who love him', as per the Bible verse from Romans, as different Malay church denominations have become united in prayer. 

She added that her own faith has been strengthened: "I think without God, it would have been very difficult to continue but I would say that this situation has strengthened my faith and He has given me peace. Even in this adversity and difficult circumstances, I can see how real God is and how personal he is. He just knows what you need and He meets your need. Just like Psalm 23 - that's my favourite Psalm by the way! - He's the Good Shepherd and he guides and leads me, he brings me to still waters when I need that refreshment. He's with me when I'm in danger. There's no fear because his rod and his staff, they comfort me. And I'm confident that wherever Raymond is, God is there with him."

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