Washington (BWA) For the very first time, permission was granted by Malaysian authorities for Christians to celebrate Christmas in the Muslim-majority country.

John Kok, president of the Malaysia Baptist Convention (MBC) and senior pastor of Kuala Lumpur Baptist Church (KLBC), reported that KLBC “has been given the task to coordinate the public program, with the permission of the authorities, to put up a Christmas caroling session from 8 p.m. to midnight.”

The event was scheduled Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, in Bukit Bintang in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, an area that is home to many landmark shopping centers, cafés, clubs, shops, malls and specialty shops.

Stating that “this has never happened nor been allowed before by the authorities,” Kok anticipated “many thousands of people,” and expected that “all newspapers will be there to publicize the event.”

Other churches, including the Anglicans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, joined the Baptists in the celebration.

In addition to granting permission, the authorities in Malaysia planned to pay for the event and allow a Christmas tree to be erected.

More than 60 percent of Malaysians are Muslim and over 19 percent are Buddhists. The Christian population is less than 10 percent.

The MBC has more than 160 churches and almost 20,000 members in a population of 27 million people.

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