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!”
If our kids are looking more colorful than usual, it is because they’re wearing batik to their first Indonesian worship service.
It has been a mixed visit so far. For me, a fruitful week of ministry. For Sora and the kids, a painful time fighting the sort of digestive tract illness that we thought we would not experience, since we were coming already from the Philippines.
I preached on Psalm 42 & 43 for GAI St. Paul’s in Bandung, Indonesia this morning. Many thanks to Pr. Denny Kussoy for translating my sermon.
Matt preaching with Pr. Denny Kussoy translating.
The congregation on Sunday included many students from my week-long intensive class at the Bible College.
Above: Students at STT St Paul’s Bible College during Matt’s class.
At lunch on Sunday, Rev. Yopie Buyung explained that he believes Biblical theology (in the technical sense) is greatly needed in Indonesian churches. I believe it. The delighted looks of the students as I explained how the New Testament claims Jesus to be God made it clear that they had not heard it put this (Jewish, Old Testamentish) way before, and that they will be USING these arguments in their own conversations with those who do not know the Lord, or deny that we should worship Him, or who think that “it is far from God’s glory to beget a son”.
Here are the essay assignment questions that I left for the students to write. (Pak Yopie translated them into Bahasa Indonesia.)
In 10 pages or less, answer ONE of these questions:
1. Explain how the NT epistles and the book of Revelation identify Jesus as divine while still holding to monotheism.
2. Explain how Jesus and the four gospels use the Old Testament to claim that Jesus is identified with the God of Israel.
3. List and explain five main ways that the OT asserts monotheism and show how the NT used those ways to say that Jesus is included in the identity of Israel’s God.
Unfortunately, our family has been dealing with some sickness. Three kids came with me to church, wearing their new batik clothing. Sora stayed back at the guest house with Naomi, who is still recovering. Later, Isaiah and Hosanna also lost their lunches. Everyone is on the mend, however.
We have one more day in Bandung. Rev. Yopie and his wife Hertina and younger son Rexa have been taking very good care of us. Indonesian hospitality is justly famous, and Pak Yopie’s family has been amazing in that respect.
Tuesday, we head to Jakarta for four days, then to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, en route to meet with our SAMS directors and other SAMS missionary families at a retreat in Kep.
– Our kids will recover quickly, and that we will have no more illness on this trip.
– We may have a pleasant and uneventful train ride full of beautiful scenery from Bandung to Jakarta.
– The STT St. Paul’s students will continue to pursue the Biblical approaches to Christology and theology that I introduced them to in the lectures this week, and that the Lord may bless those methods with good fruit.
– That our kids will continue to be good ambassadors for our family and the REC and ACNA. The boys especially have done a good job so far, even though they don’t like being the center of attention. (Hosanna on the other hand, loves being the center of attention, and is apparently in her element being greeted and photographed, whether by Filipinos or Indonesians.)
Thanks to Natalina H for the pictures!