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Mission: Indonesia

Final Report

By GARY FALLESEN
President, Climbing For Christ

  • CLICK HERE to read the Daily Dispatches from the trip.

 

Rice fields

Lambok of JEJAK, in white t-shirt, lends a hand in a rice field in Java. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

 

Doors must be opened to unreached people groups of Indonesia

 

Our pastor friend was talking about families turning out relatives, communities shunning neighbors, and the military knocking on doors to put the fear of Allah into those who have accepted Jesus Christ.

 

This is the Muslim world in West Java, Indonesia, where there is freedom of religion if you are willing to pay the price. Few have the heart to face those consequences.

 

“Doors and hearts are closed,” the pastor said.

 

We found this in many of the places we visited and in many of the stories we heard while in Indonesia and Malaysia on Mission: Indonesia. From a street ministry for Muslim schoolchildren in Jakarta, where the name Jesus cannot be uttered or the children will be removed from the charity outreach, to a Malay people who are not permitted to convert from Islam to Christianity. “How,” we were asked by those we came to teach and encourage, “can we evangelize here?”

 

Islam is a challenge to the Christian faith. For starters, it is growing in the world – where there are already 1.3 billion Muslims (about 20 percent of the population or 1 out of every 5 people on the planet). In 1990, there were only 30 Muslim mosques in the United States, according to author Ron Rhodes. Today, almost that many mosques can be found in some major U.S. cities. But an occasional mosque in the United States is nothing when compared to a country where it is difficult to be out of earshot of the daily barrage of Islamic propaganda and calls to prayer.

 

Some facts:

 

  • Islam is the world’s second-largest religion (Christianity is the largest).
  • More than 65 nations in the world are Islamic.
  • Muslims make up about 85 percent of the population in 32 countries.
  • Muslims constitute a majority in 45 African and Asian countries.
  • Indonesia has more than 180 million Muslims.

 

Worship

Gary Fallesen speaks to the congregation of Abbalove East church with Pastor Seno translating. (Photo by Hindra Salim)

 

Indonesia has 127 unreached people groups. The majority of these are Muslim, including the a large population in West Java, which numbers 32 million. Pastor Seno of the Abbalove Church in Jakarta said it might be one of the world’s most difficult people groups to reach because “they have been approached by every means.”

 

But that did not deter us from a short mission trip into the hills within a day's travel of Jakarta. There we visited with so-called “fanatical” Muslims working in the rice fields. We also prayed with and gave an Indonesian New Testament to one Muslim family. The man of the family asked for it and read immediately, aloud, from the Gospel of Matthew. He eagerly soaked up the Word.

 

Such opportunities are unusual. Handing out Bibles can be difficult, if not impossible in Muslim lands. We need to establish relationships and share testimonies about our lives, especially those who have come to know the Lord. “The way to reach is by attitude,” instructed a pastor friend working there for many years.

 

A positive attitude is what is needed.

 

Islam’s growth is explained in its simplicity. “A person who keeps the five pillars (ethical principles) of Islam is a good Muslim,” Rhodes writes in The 10 Things You Need to Know About Islam. The Indonesian National Research Network attributes it to a sense of belonging. “Confessing faith in God and joining in these practices make one part of an important local and international community,” it was written in Indonesia: Unreached People Groups.

 

But a Muslim has no guarantee of going to heaven, even if he (or she) is a “good Muslim.” Allah’s final judgment can be arbitrary.

 

Christians, on the other hand, have the security of knowing that the price has already been paid. Our faith is one of showing and receiving love. This is the key in outreach to Muslims.

 

In some places we will not be able to tell about Jesus, but we can live His actions out loud in caring for people and serving their physical needs. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

 

As Walter Casper, who accompanied me from the United States to Southeast Asia, said: “In places like (withheld), where we were (introduced as) ‘tourists visiting the waterfalls,’ I know that God was with us as we walked among the Muslims and shared our love of Jesus with them just by saying, ‘Hi.’”

 

Christian author Brennan Manning is quoted elsewhere on this Web site as saying we are called to “present to the world the image of a servant community … not with showy, defensive fervor, but with an intense interior life of prayer, worship, service, and a manner of living that only can be explained in terms of God.”

 

Or, as I shared with 60-plus Christians from seven countries attending the inaugural Asia-Pacific Adventure Ministry Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: We must live Christ out loud.

 

Street Ministry
Shanty homes

Shanty homes, above, where children who are ministered to on the streets of Jakarta live. Top, street ministry includes teaching and giving. (Photos by Rendy Bayutrilaksono, top, and Gary Fallesen)

 

We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter what their belief (Muslim, atheist, animist).  It says so several times in both the Old and New Testaments (see Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8).

 

There is a story of a Christian who visited a terrorist camp, where bombs were being made to blow up buses. The Christian cried out to himself: “I do not love these Muslims. I hate them!” But Jesus spoke to the man’s heart, saying, “It was not far from here I called a fanatic named Saul, and sent him to the ends of the earth.” The Christian was ashamed of himself, and vowed to try to be more like Christ.

 

We need to be more like Christ in Indonesia, where there are 34 people groups with populations of 10,000 or more who have no known Christians among them. In Papua alone, there are 33 people groups that have not heard the name of Jesus and 68 other people groups that are unevangelized. Papua’s interior, where many of these people groups are found, is rugged mountains – in other words, Climbing For Christ territory. This is truly where other missionaries cannot or will not go. We must go there.

 

We will be working with our JEJAK Chapter in Jakarta to design missions to reach the unreached of Indonesia. Anyone with a heart for adventure and a heart for the lost will want to be a part of this work.

 

In the meantime, JEJAK will make the hills around Sumedang an ongoing project. Christ has a presence there already in some of His people, who will not be dissuaded by closed doors or hearts – especially now that they have been encouraged by visitors from the West. JEJAK will continue to send teams out to the Sumedang hills to visit and work.

 

“You have a heart for souls,” Lambok Simamora, a member of JEJAK, told us. “I have a heart for souls. When I saw you my heart for souls is now burning. I have a heart to become a missionary.”

 

I prayed for Lambok’s missionary heart. Just as I prayed for the missionary heart of Nopel, a Yemen-Indonesian who converted from Islam to Christianity. He asked to be blessed to be a missionary among those still living in the darkness of Islam. As I asked for the Holy Spirit to anoint him, Nopel’s body shook violently. I believe it was a divine moment.

 

It was one of many moments I will not forget from Mission: Indonesia. Another is sitting with a man in Jakarta listening to him tell how he’d given his life to Jesus in spite of the earthly penalties that have been exacted.

 

Muhammad, an Iranian living in Jakarta, answered the call. He shared with us after a cell group study on the roof of a Christian family’s home, a Bible study conducted as the nearby mosque blared its lies. Muhammad told us how he gave up everything – his family, his job, his position in the Islamic church. But in return we know he will receive more.

 

It should be our desire to bring others from Indonesia to a place where this eternal reward may be found.

 

Sumedang

The hills around Sumedang, West Java. (Photo by Rendy Bayutrilaksono)

The Word

“... and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
— Ephesians 5:2 (NIV)

 

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