In Indonesia, the gospel is advancing despite persecution and misfortune

For the registration of a church in Indonesia, the law requires a group of 80 believers, and this is not enough. To make it even more difficult to open a church, the law requires that the list of signatures of 60 neighbors who give their approval be presented, which is particularly complicated in a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. Muslims make up 85% of the 238 million inhabitants, and Christians make up 12%. Even if such obstacles are put up, the gospel is advancing and churches are being planted. Pastor Thomas went with his wife and two children to an area of the city and were expelled from there. But, they did not despair and looked for another location, where the church services began. For the first three weeks, the neighbors threw stones at them every day. However, they did not give up. Now in the room where they live with their children, a church of 40 believers gathers.

When I entered, Pastor Thomas’s wife was just teaching the children from the Holy Scriptures. Their little girl reads the Bible daily and then writes in a journal the conclusions she makes.

Now the pastor is very happy to be able to study with the whole church Paul’s Epistle to

Titus, for he has passed the necessary training with other pastors and church planters at the seminar I conducted in the city of Parapat.

As a professor at the Haggai Institute, I have had the privilege and joy of teaching the course “Biblical and Contemporary Models of Evangelism” to key Christian leaders in various parts of the world each year. One of the students was Pastor Samuel from Indonesia, who also wanted to teach this course to pastors in his country. On this occasion, we wanted to teach pastors the inductive method of studying the Bible. For this, Pastor Samuel translated the course of Paul’s Epistle to Titus.

Thus, in September, I went with my teachers, Mia and Costel Oglice, to lead the conference on the island of Sumatra, where in 2010 almost 300,000 people died due to the earthquake and then tsunami. The territory of Indonesia consists of 17,508 islands, of which 6,000 are uninhabited. Sumatra is one of the largest of these islands.After a long journey we landed in the city of Medan from where we then drove 5 hours to the city of Parapat, which is located on the shores of the largest volcanic lake in the world – Toba. There we already expected 60 pastors and church planters. Even though we got there at 3 in the morning, we rested a bit and at 9 we started the conference.

My teachers, Mia and Costel Oglice, taught the Epistle to Titus, and I led the course on evangelistic methods. Participants were delighted to learn how to study the Bible inductively and how easily you can understand God’s Word when you learn it that way. All of them left full of desire to teach this course in the churches in their localities.

We were impressed to hear about the work that pastors do with their wives. While her husband runs the church in the city, Sister Esther founded a Christian kindergarten next to the church and then went to remote villages, where she started 3 other kindergartens for children. From one locality to another she travels by motorcycle and more than once she was chased in the jungle by wild animals, snakes and even a tiger. But this did not stop her from working and she continues to serve more than 1,000 children. She was delighted with the textbook “English for a New Life for Kids” and is looking forward to starting teacher training in their country, so that she can apply the material in the kindergartens she runs, but also in churches.

Another project that pastors have been delighted with and that we want to start as soon as possible is Timothy’s School. They work with a large number of teenagers and young people and want to prepare them intensively for the mission work and thus expand the work in their area. Now Pastor Samuel is going to translate the books “Lord, Teach Me to Study the Bible” and Joseph, so that the first session can be taught. Pray with us to start the Timothy School and the English Language Teacher Training Institute at the Institute for Inductive Bible Study Eurasia in Indonesia as soon as possible.

The conference was funded by the International Christian Mission Malaysia and we were pleased to have with us the international coordinator, Dorai Raju, who invited us to visit other countries to do conferences like this.

Most of the conference participants were from the Batak tribe and live around Lake Toba, with a population of 6 million. Their ancestors were ferocious cannibals. When one of them committed an act that they described as a crime, they tried in the village and sentenced the murderer to death. Then they cut off his head and took it to their captain, and they divided his body among them and ate it. When the first American missionaries, Henry Lyman and Samuel Munson, came, in 1834 the people of the Batak tribe killed and ate them, believing that they were sons of gods and that by eating them they would have the power of gods. Later came the German Lutheran missionary Ludwig Nommensen, who succeeded in teaching customs to the Batak tribe, preaching the gospel, and making them disciples of Christ. Brother Comar, who served us with love by car during our travels, is also from the Batak tribe.

On the way home, we drove again for 5 hours through the jungle and through the villages and, because it was daylight, we could see the country. The jungle monkeys came out curious to look at us.

Then we passed the Goodyear rubber plantations, as Indonesia is one of the largest rubber producers in the world.

This was followed by palm groves from which edible oil is extracted.

As we sat at the table with Pastor Samuel’s family, he told us about Ahok, the governor of Jakarta, who is a Christian and whom God uses powerfully. Being an honest but very prosperous businessman, God called him to get involved in political life. As long as he resisted, he suffered from an illness that prevented him from moving, and on the day he decided to obey God’s call, he was able to walk again. At first he was mayor of a smaller town, then mayor of Jakarta and then became governor of the entire region.

Being a modest man, he made public in the country where corruption is a big problem all the expenses where public money goes and sought to direct this money to the real needs of the people. His enemies, seeing that he would win the election again, began to speculate on the religious factor and tell the Muslims that they could not vote for a Christian according to the Qur’an. Ahok said in a public speech that it is not written in the Qur’an and that it is important to be an honest man. His enemies took this statement as a reason to accuse him of blasphemy and to sentence him to 2 years in prison. Ahok received this as if from the hand of God and went only with the Bible to the prison, where he now preaches the gospel to the other detainees, including former terrorists. When he was offered the opportunity for release on the occasion of an amnesty, Ahok refused and chose to run his term to the end and is supposed to have done this so that he could continue to preach to those in prison. Here is a man who knows how to use any circumstance for Christ.

While we were there, a great calamity happened again on the island of Sulawesi, where more than 1230 people died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami. We thank the Lord who protected us and all those who prayed for us, because we received messages from you and even put a post on my Facebook profile so you knew I was fine. Continue to pray with us for the families of the deceased on the island of Sulawesi, for the work in Indonesia, for the translation of the two books of inductive Bible study, and for the beginning of the training of English teachers and the Timothy School. Also, pray for Pastor Thomas to come to the Eurasian Center for Inductive Bible Study in Surduc, Romania where, starting with the February 2019 session, we will begin training teachers for the institute’s computer science faculty. If you are interested in this training or other programs and projects of the Precept Ministries Eurasia mission, contact us at [email protected] or at the telephone number + (373) 69966779.
God bless.

Vasile Filat

Translated by Ina Croitoru