The city of Medan is the capital of the island of Sumatra. There are four provinces here where most Muslims live. In Medan, the largest city on the peninsula, half of the population are Muslims and half are Christians. More than 50 million people live on this island and there are 52 ethnic groups that have not yet been reached with the gospel. Between September 15-19, 2019, I visited this island in order to prepare leaders and pastors to teach the inductive Bible study course recently translated into Indonesian “Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost.”
I taught the first seminar to 28 students from different parts of Indonesia at the Mission School. Each of them has adopted one of the 52 ethnic groups that has not been reached with the gospel, and they will have to go and plant churches there and even open mission schools. Their leader’s name is Frendly and he was very friendly. I gave them a brief introduction to the study method and then we studied together lesson 1 of the course “Being a Disciple.”
I gave them the second lesson to complete in small groups of 4 people and I saw that they liked it very much. Finally, before I left, I asked them who wanted to finish the course and they all raised their hands immediately. Then I decided for them to do it in the same groups of 4 people and teach one by one. Then I asked them who wanted to teach this course in the churches where they came from and then at the place where they would go to make disciples and again, immediately, they all raised their hands. All these students will teach a minimum of 3000 people, considering the churches they come from and the people they will go to.
This was followed by a two-day conference attended by 60 pastors and leaders from 6 denominations in Medan. We didn’t hold it at Samuel’s church because it’s being repaired there now, but the church where I went is very well arranged with a big and beautiful auditorium. People are very receptive and receive everything we teach quickly and well. They really like the method and we have interesting discussions.
When I got to the second lesson, I gave them the assignment to complete in small groups of 4 people and again it was very interactive and dynamic in each group.
Samuel’s mother and wife also came to study, and they have already decided to study the Bible first with the 7 church leaders and then with the whole church.
Among the participants was Pastor Parulian Tampubolon, who is also the chairman of the Audio-Visual Council for North Sumatra and the entire media is under his control, so he is a man with great influence. He told me that he came to this seminar because he found out from the ad that it would also be about social media and that he had been to a seminar where a group of Americans taught about evangelism through social media, but it was very general, while here with us he learned very practically and invited me the next evening to go to his church to teach them all. Parulian asked for 1000 books: “Being a Disciple: Counting the Cost” to teach in churches and with the people he works with. In the picture, he is in the center with one of the leaders he brought to the seminar.
Pastor Tommy was very involved in organizing and translating at the conference. Now, at the stadium in front of the church, he invited Phillip, who studied at the Mission School in Moldova, to start a football ministry. Tommy told me that while studying at the seminary, God spoke to his wife, who is a therapist for autism, to start a Christian center and have everything there with inductive Bible study to do with parents, and to teach other specialists.
Pastor Nico Manalu practiced Silat, an Indonesian martial art, and used it to gather children from a certain region. He was a martial arts instructor in the Indonesian fleet and after retirement wanted to use his knowledge for the Gospel, but was rejected by other leaders and stopped working in sports. He came în front and spoke about how my testimony about the effect of the sports mission encouraged him a lot and now he will resume the work through Silat.
At the end of the seminar we presented the rest of the books and the participants asked us to translate the courses “Building a Marriage That Really Works “ and “How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret.” Altogether the participants asked for 3210 copies of the book, “Being a Disciple” to teach in their groups and churches. They insisted a lot on starting the training of English teachers and Timothy School. A group from an orphanage approached and asked us to do Timothy School in their building.
I was also invited to teach the students of the Theological Seminary of the Church “Assemblies of God.” There they also asked me to teach them about evangelism through social networks. There is a great interest in it everywhere.
After the seminar with the pastors, I came to the hotel and, before going to my room, I went into the restaurant to drink a mango juice, but seeing the smoke that was there, I gave up and went back. At this moment, one of the participants at the seminar approached, who was very shy and who seemed to want to talk to me and did not dare. He told me his name was Martin and he was the coordinator of a large hotel association, and at the hotel he had come here to talk to the general manager, who was a friend of his. He told me that he was born into a Christian family, was baptized as a baby, married and divorced because his wife found another man. He was a DJ at the disco and his Muslim friends advised him to become a Muslim so that he could remarry, because Christians are not allowed to remarry. Thus, he accepted Islam, remarried, then divorced again, committed many crimes and now returned to Christianity, but has no peace in his heart.
He prays, cries and apologizes all night, but he thinks he can’t be forgiven for what he did. Sometimes, in the car he cries and asks for forgiveness from God, but he can’t get peace and he can’t sleep at night. He lives in Simalungun, a 5-hour drive away. A friend of his who owns a hotel was a Buddhist, but he recently became a Christian and sent him through Facebook this invitation to the seminar I was going to teach. He took the car and came, attended the seminar and, seeing how the other participants came to me with many questions, gave up on approaching me. Now, God arranged this meeting and he asked me for help. I told him about being born again, and he understood that he is not born again and does not have the Spirit of God. I told him what he had to do to be saved. I opened with him to 1 John 1:9 and read that if he confessed his sins, God would forgive him and cleanse him from all unrighteousness, and he would no longer have to give Satan the opportunity to torment him, but to believe God’s promise. We prayed together and his face lit up immediately, he was filled with joy and he said that from tomorrow he will preach the Gospel to all people and he wants to live the rest of his life for Christ and the Gospel.
During all these four days in Medan, we trained 180 leaders who will teach the Word of God to 7,000 people. Timothy School is the project we will focus on now, and Pastor Samuel and his team will make the effort to gather people and prepare everything. The best option is to have a session at that orphanage. The first session will be between May 18-30, 2020 and the second in December. Before session 1, the trainer will come 3 days in advance and will teach a seminar for pastors on the course “How to Have a Marriage that Really Works.” Pray with us for the people who have studied these days, for the people they will be teaching, for the translation of the materials, and for the Timothy School, which is about to begin next year. I am now heading to Manila, Philippines, where I will be teaching several seminars and discussing the possibilities for opening a Timothy School and the English Language Teaching Faculty of the Institute for Inductive Bible Study. Thank you for your support in prayer. I will return with an article about the work in Manila.
Translated by Nicoleta Vicliuc