Have you ever heard your grandparents tell you, “Back in my day, we used to walk to school five miles each way in the dead of winter with no shoes?” Of course, the exaggerated story was to inspire you to count your blessings. Allow us to inspire you with a non-embellished tale of our refugees from Afghanistan. Desperate to find a church where they can freely worship, this ever resilient group, travels by car from the mountains outside of Jakarta to Providence Anglican Church every Sunday. The trip takes almost three hours each way! Can you imagine how hungry for the Word and Christian fellowship they must be to go that distance? Can you imagine how physically hungry they must get during the long day away from home? We strive each week to make sure that we fill them with good food to eat and a meal to take for the road, but more importantly, God is sustaining them with his Word and satisfying them spiritually around the table of Holy Communion. God’s family from many countries at the banqueting table. His banner over us is love!
Providence Anglican Church is a multi-national fellowship in Jakarta. God has seen fit to add to our small group people from America, Australia, China, Korea, Indonesia, Iran, and the Philippines. How beautiful that on any given Sunday, the sermon or scripture reading might be translated into one of the languages spoken by our members. One particular Sunday, something really special happened. Our American-Malaysian co-worker, Sandy, helped our Iranian believers lead the congregational singing in Farsi. All of the songs were familiar, but with lyrics in the Farsi language. Sandy must have practiced night and day to master this in a tongue so foreign. Our hearts and voices lifted as one as we cried out “How Great is Our God!” Pedar rahim bar ma, Masih monjiye ma, Setaim namatra, Setaim namatra. The Godhead Three in One, Father, Spirit, Son, The Lion and the Lamb, The Lion and the Lamb.
I can’t say we expected to worship in Farsi when we first journeyed to the far seas to minister in Indonesia. How thankful we are that God always exceeds our expectations. Truly, how great is our God!
People might wonder what the life of a missionary is like and assume there must be to it an air of the romantic or exotic. Well, we have had our share of “exotic” scents (usually sewage) and tropical breezes (laden by smog.) But, really our life would be best described as an adventure (meaning not planned and totally out of my sphere of control) with our heavenly Father as the most amazing tour guide!
Consider our recent trip to Singapore to secure an Indonesian visa (permission to live and work in the country.) Our three days turned into five, as the visa process can be painfully slow. I was anxious at this change of plans because this would mean the kids would miss more school, Jim would be absent from church, and more money would be spent on meals abroad. It was a cry or laugh moment, and so I decided to trust that our Tour Guide must have a lot to show us in Singapore!
Being blessed with superior accommodations at the Anglican Prayer Lodge, we set out to see what the city had to offer. We dined with old friends, took in a light-water-music show at the harbor, worshiped at St. George’s, and strolled around The Botanical Gardens. We had a great tour of Singapore and left with a reminder to “sit back and enjoy the ride!”
The kids and I are back in Jakarta and finally starting to feel the effects of jet lag wearing off! What a blessing to be once again in the midst of our PAC family (Providence Anglican Church.) Jim was busy setting up the Lord’s Table with an array of beautiful furnishings provided by St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Phoenix, AZ and the International Anglican Fellowship. What a remarkable visual picture it created in our humble rental space! Upon unwrapping the wooden stand for the display of the Bible, Jim discovered a sticker on the bottom that read, “Made in Indonesia.” Can you imagine this stand, made by native hands here, exported across the vast ocean with years of service in America, then carried all the way back to our little church in Jakarta? We all had a good chuckle and yet this served as a reminder that God is truly at work, connecting believers around the globe. What an encouragement to us. “He’s got the whole world in His hands!”