(Image Indonesia Seal courtesy Wikipedia)
Indonesia (MNN) -- The situation Indonesian Christians find themselves in is diverse. There is much hope related to the newly-elected president and his public statements concerning religious minorities. In other areas, there are huge challenges.
In today's story, we'll focus a little bit on the tools and training Forgotten Missionaries International
offers through its conferences. The majority of the story is about why they do what they do.
Java and Borneo are home to about three dozen church planters supported by FMI. In the larger archipelago, more than 720 languages are spoken by its various indigenous tribes. A former Dutch colony, Indonesia now ranks the fourth-largest in population and has the largest Muslim-dominated nation in the world.
FMI's Bruce Allen was in Java and Borneo earlier this month, primarily to "assess the health of the ministry and help them strategize for continued growth or outreach." Many of the church planters supported by FMI work in rural areas. "It was quite an adventure to get out to some of these places, to conduct field visits, to go to the church planter's ministry site and meet with their church leadership elders or deacons, as well as talk with some of their church members."
FMI wrapped up their visits just in time to help lead a pastoral training conference. "We're talking about some very practical things that will help their home as well as their ministry: financial management, building and sustaining healthy marriages, and Bible studies from the book of Genesis and Exodus." There's nothing like drinking from a fire hydrant. Aside from field visits and training conferences, Allen says, "We met with the national leadership team, and we were focused on developing strategies that will help them move forward with outreach in the midst of some very challenging situations."
What kind of challenges? Minority Christians are often discriminated against in employment and education, and they sometimes face outright persecution. Yet FMI’s church planters have a courageous vision to fan out across the islands to reach their countrymen for Christ.
Now we come to the "why" of these meetings. We'd like to introduce you to Mahkuta. At the start of his journey, a friend introduced him to the Gospel. He was curious about Christians and the Bible. Allen shares, "His friend introduced him to a pastor who helped explain the Gospel to him. Mahkuta actually left the island of Sumatra to get a theology degree, to understand [the Bible] better. While he was in Java, he became a Christian."
Things went great as Mahkuta enthusiastically shared his story with anyone who would listen. The only people that didn't know about his change of heart were his parents--who were Muslim. He finally plucked up the courage, sent them a letter, and braced for their reaction. "At the same time he was writing a letter to his parents, his parents were writing a letter to him," Allen says. "His parents were informing Mahkuta that they had just put their faith in Jesus Christ, along with six other families from their village."
Ecstatic, Mahkuta moved back to his home village on Sumatra, helped with church planting and discipleship, and extended outreach to the villages surrounding theirs. Allen says that "in recent months, Mahkuta moved back to Java, and he's one of our newest church planters, just in the last few months starting a new church in Java."
(Photo courtesy Forgotten Missionaries International)
It's because of men like Mahkuta that FMI emphasizes training, discipleship, and more. His is not the only story like this, which is great news considering the footprint of the Islamic State. "God is calling and drawing people to Himself," raves Allen. "We're thrilled to be able to partner with the people who are on the frontlines making that happen."
Pray for pastors like Mahkuta to be bold about their stories with Jesus and that FMI can continue to freely offer training for the upcoming church leaders.