On Friday, we flew from Yogyakarta to Surabaya. We enjoyed lunch at a great Indonesian restaurant, called Bon Ami (French name) with Dutch delft blue décor. :-)
After lunch we walked from the hotel to the Holland Bakery, which is common throughout Java, and purchased some Dutch pastries. On the way, we heard the Muslim call to prayer, and witnessed a large group of men, praying right next to our hotel. Ironically, a few meters away, we visited Immanuel Christian Bookstore, a store that rivals any Canadian Christian bookstore for size, and product. We were familiar with many authors, all translated into Bahasa Indonesian. Homer takes delight in pointing out a few Canadian authors among the American names. The bookstore also had a great music section, considerably cheaper than in Canada.
In the evening we enjoyed Korean food with some friends of Untung and Ivany. Their English was perfect; their hospitality, heartwarming. We ate too much… food we didn’t recognize… with chopsticks.
The workshop on Friday began with worship; about 50 people gathered for training. We have found that Indonesian people sing in beautiful harmony. I was moved to tears as we sang “I Need Thee Every Hour”. So far from home, yet singing a song that connects our hearts. I sang along in English…
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
These words have actually been my prayer this week in Indonesia. I have felt so dependent on God through this time, as I worked with people I could not understand. Singing the words simply gave a louder voice to my prayer… Every hour I need Thee.
During the breaks, many people spoke to me about concepts they were learning. One man thanked me for teaching the ‘softer’ concepts of Bible study. We need to learn to care for each other, and develop deeper relationships.
Another young man had some questions about what that would look like. Our conversation was slow and deliberate as we dealt with the language barrier. However, as we talked, I gradually saw his eyes brighten, as he seemed be grasping the basics of relational ministry.
A young woman sat with me during lunch and shared her story. She lives with her parents. Her mother is Christian, her father is Muslim. She prays that he will come to know Jesus.
A Dr. spoke to me about his journey, becoming born again in 1979. He shares his love for Jesus in his practice, and he also leads a Bible study for students at the university. He was so excited about the potential of so many people being trained to lead Bible Study.
I am struck by the diversity in the stories that are shared. Some have surprised me with their evangelical zeal and creativity to be sharing the gospel in their context. Others struggle to grasp the basics of ministry that is relational. And many share the recognition that ministry must move from pastor to lay leaders. All express a deep passion to share the gospel message.
It’s my prayer that the workshops will take root – that people will grasp the potential of gathering in small groups, and that they will understand the power of helping people to discover truths from scripture through inductive Bible study. I am thankful for the work that Untung is doing, and for the privilege of being a partner in this ministry.