KOTA KINABALU, Feb 1 — After distributing aid to disadvantaged students and churches, and setting up the internet in a rural village, preacher Ebit Lew also brought Islam to a village of Bajau Laut sea gypies in Lahad Datu.
The popular philanthropist, who is on day four of a 10-day humanitarian mission to Sabah, posted on Twitter that he converted some 157 villagers from Pulau Tatagan, Semporna to Islam.
“157 people recited the syahadah today. Praise be to God, I cried with joy. The whole village embraced Islam today. Everyone did it with an open heart, willingly without any force,” he tweeted.
Ebit said the village was among his planned stops because he heard their food supply had been cut off.
He tweeted that he felt sad about how impoverished the community is, and after hearing that parents only name their newborns after one year due to the high incidence of infant mortality.
“I asked them through an interpreter if anyone had explained religion to them. They said, ‘No, we do not know. Please tell us.’ I got emotional and asked them if they know God? What is God?
“They immediately believed. I taught them the syahadah. This is both the saddest and happiest day of my life. I will continue to bring food to this community. I am arranging for a school to be built, and an ustaz to teach them,” he said.
The Bajau Laut community of Semporna are typically Muslim but owing to their nomadic way of life aboard boats, they lack proper facilities for worship, and sometimes, have differing practice and views on religion.
Ebit’s visit to Sabah began on January 28 when he travelled to the east coast of Lahad Datu and visited a charity home for those with intellectual and physical disabilities.
The following day, he visited the St Dominic Catholic Church in Lahad Datu where he donated 100 food baskets, 10 wheelchairs and face masks to the poor.
He also set up a WiFi hotspot for Kampung Bangingod in Felda Sahabat in Tungku, and distributed food and electronic tablets to students from SK Bangingod.
During his visit, Ebit plans to cover the districts of Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna, together with an 18-strong team.