Note: please feel free to edit this for coherency if needed!
Also, to confirm that this is a true story, here’s a link from a local source:
Before this incident occurred, I’d heard about similar occurrences happening in the city and town near where I live, but I honestly never thought it would happen to me. I live in Malaysia, and attend college in a development area where there are four high-profile, high-density tertiary education institutions. To put it simply, in this area there are hundreds of college kids roaming between classes and after school. I guess that’s what makes the cult and human traffickers target this area.
A few weeks before this happened, I saw on Facebook a post by a woman in the area warning others about possible human trafficking or cult activity. The woman who made the post detailed that two Korean – women approached her, asking if she believed in ‘God the Mother’ and if she wanted to come for a ‘bible study’ group to find out more. When the woman declined, the two women began to pressure her more until she had to quickly leave the place.
I had warily regarded the article, but I figured that you hear things like this all the time, and they almost never happen to you personally. My nonchalance convinced me that there was nothing to worry about; and then it happened.
Normally I’d go to the nearby mall with my best friend to grab a meal after class or to study, but on that day I had gone alone. I bought myself a drink and headed to the cafe I usually frequented to finish the last of my assignments. On the way there, I was occupied by my phone and only looked up to make sure I didn’t bump into anyone as I walked. Looking back, I’m sure my obliviousness to my surroundings made me a target.
I was in a lonely section of the mall when someone tapped my shoulder. I looked up, and found three women standing in front of me. They looked like they were in their late teens or early twenties, and they were definitely East Asian, Chinese or Korean, perhaps. This didn’t ring any alarm bells as Malaysia has people of all Asian ethnicities. I asked if I dropped something, and they didn’t answer. One of them waved and introduced herself, though the name she gave was clearly fake, as it was something like ‘Green Petal’ in Mandarin.
At first, she said that they were part of a group of students doing a project, which I admit got me hooked. As a struggling student myself, I’m always happy to help with others’ surveys and projects. As the woman kept talking, I began to feel uncomfortable. There had definitely been only three women earlier, but now there were at least five surrounding me on all sides. I have bad anxiety, and the feeling of being closed in with unfamiliar people made my heart pound nervously, and I wasn’t even paying attention to what the girl was talking about.
“Sorry, I- I can’t help,” I stuttered nervously, trying desperately to find a way out of the situation. At this point I still didn’t know what it was all about, but I was sure that whatever was happening was not good.
The women tried to sway my attention, talking about how important it was that they tell me what this was, and that they needed me to come to their group meeting with them to experience it. I was trying to calm myself down, telling them repeatedly that I wasn’t interested in joining their club or group, and I couldn’t help their project.
It was then that the woman who’d initially approached me – the leader, I’m assuming – said something that sent chills down my spine and made me realise the severity of what was happening.
“We just want to know if you believe in God the Father. There is a Bible group happening tonight and tomorrow night if you want to come and have some food, and find out more. Other students will be there, too.”
Sure, it wasn’t the exact same wording, but the similarities in the way I was approached (a lone female college student) and the women who approached (East Asian, and in a group of more than two) started to click in my mind. This was worse than I thought, and I knew I had to leave.
I realised I still had my phone in my hand, and though I kept my eyes on the women as to not tip them off that I was aware of their scheme, I managed to manoeuvre my way into faking a call coming in.
“Sorry,” I pretended to be surprised, “My mom is calling. I have to go.”
They protested, saying that I could call her back later, but I refused. I told them that my mother always wanted to know where I was, and if they wanted, I could put her on speakerphone and they could speak to her about this project they wanted me to be involved in. This confirmed my suspicions about their motives, as they immediately shied away and began making up excuses.
As soon as they backed away enough, I turned and sprinted towards the closest escalator, practically running down and going to the closest store with other people around. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack, but the adrenaline rush was keeping me going. I sat down in front of the store, dialling my mom’s number and keeping tabs on a friendly looking woman dressed in the store’s uniform who was at most ten feet away while my gaze darted frantically around, trying to make sure the group of women didn’t come to find me.
When my mom picked up the call, I just about burst into tears and told her everything over small sobs. She calmed me down and told me to get something to eat and that she’d come and get me so I wouldn’t have to catch the bus and train home that day.
I hadn’t realised just how harrowing an experience being approached and cornered like that would be, and I definitely know that I take my usual normal routines for granted. When I got home, I shared the original post and added a summary of my experience to warn others in the area of what was going on.
I still frequent the mall where this happened, and thankfully, I’ve never seen or heard of those women again.