C4C members from North America and Indonesia attending a JEJAK meeting in Jakarta on Sunday, May 23.
Monday, May 24 (11:30 p.m. local time)
The team has gone its separate ways: JEJAK members back to work, two of the North Americans on 32 hours of flights that will return them to the States on Tuesday, and the other North American staying in Indonesia to work this week with a partner ministry. We were overjoyed with the things God showed us and the way He is and will use us in Indonesia. To God alone be the glory!
Sunday, May 23 (10 p.m. local time)
The missions director at Abbalove Church preached about going and telling during worship this morning. Fittingly, it is missions month at the church attended by most of our JEJAK members. One of the key verses those of us who were sent here were blessed to hear came from Romans 10:15(b) — as well as Isaiah 52:7 — “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
“Poor people respond to the Good News,” our translator said, explaining the message. “They don't have anything to rely on. They are looking for something they can trust.”
We know this to be true as we have shown Christ's love in serving physical needs to the least of these — to the world's downtrodden in remote areas. After worship, we met with the missions director and talked about future work in this country. God continues to open doors.
We have been encouraged and excited by our time here and we shared that with the nine members of JEJAK who attended an afternoon meeting. Four of the nine have been with our three North American participants most of the week. The work is just beginning.
“Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” — John 4:35 (NIV)
Saturday, May 22 (11 p.m. local time)
God is moving in a mountain village in Java where once there was only one Christian family. We were surprised on our return visit here to see a “community center” that has been constructed in the last nine months by an area pastor who has been working this hard soil for many years. “God provided,” he said about the US$4,000 that built the structure.
“When (Climbing For Christ) came here three years ago, this was the dream — a place to come and share religion,” said one of our JEJAK members, who was with us then and now. He helped them start the build with some money and sweat from JEJAK in September 2009.
Our seven-person team (three from North America and four from Indonesia) also heard about the Muslim man we had shared with and given a Bible. “He is close,” another JEJAK member said, translating for our brother in Christ who took us to him in 2007. “Maybe he accept in his heart, but not in his mouth. It is very difficult (for the Muslim) to proclaim he is a Christian.”
But several members of our brother-in-Christ's family have done so. Only one of his six grown children believed when we first arrived. Now there are three following Christ and two others are “close.”
The Spirit is at work. The “community center,” which is an inter-faith structure, has attracted more than half of the families in the village. They hold meetings there and openly discuss what they believe. This is the first step in the right direction in a place where being able to share about Christ is often threatened. (Indonesia, with a population of more than 240 million people, is the largest Islamic nation in the world. Less than 9 percent of the population professes to be Christian.)
Our pastor friend has made in-roads and wants to do more to help the village, including road improvements into the area and bringing water up (via a pump and pipes) from the rice fields below to the houses on the hill. We discussed Climbing For Christ's part in this project. Since God used us to first help open doors here three years ago, we feel we are being called to minister to these people. We would like to serve their physical needs in order to address the spiritual.
“He said to me: 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.'” — Revelation 21:6 (NIV)
Friday, May 21 (10 p.m. local time)
We returned to our gateway city today and had a very leisurely day. We'll be going back out on Saturday, visiting an area we first ventured into in 2007. It's more of a people who are extremely hard to reach with the Gospel. Less than 1/10,000th of a percent of the population is following Christ. It is where we learned what ISLAM really stands for:
We hope to share the love of Jesus with many on Saturday.
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” — 1 John 3:14 (NIV)
Thursday, May 20 (10 p.m. local time)
Rice fields above the clouds on the volcano's slopes.
One of the caretakers on the 5,800-foot volcano we climbed has worked there for 20 years. He said about 10 people climb each day and the number grows to 100 on Muslim holidays.
We were on a sacred mountain, a peak that one of those who brought Islam to this part of the country climbed “regularly,” according to the caretaker. Followers of Islam believe if they ascend the mountain and pray to Allah, they will be blessed. Three such men were climbing at the same time as our group of 13 (three from C4C in North America, four from JEJAK, two North Americans in ministry in Indonesia and four nationals in ministry).
“Are you going up to pray?” the caretaker asked us.
We told him, yes, we were going up to pray.
Because of the proximity to the Muslims and from what we’d learned here previously we turned our multiple-stop prayer walk into a self-praying climb. We hiked more than four hours to get up the steep, muddy slopes in near-80-degree temperatures and sweat-inducing high humidity, spent about two hours near the top and near the “holy” water flowing from a spring, and then took four hours to descend. The downclimb was made in a torrential downpour and thunderstorm that seemed out of the Old Testament. The weather and trail conditions made the going slow, but everyone exited the mountain without mishap.
“I lift my eyes up to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” — Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)
We prepared for a day of surveying the people and places in this spiritually bankrupt area by praying and meeting with a local evangelist. He shared about how his life was threatened after he brought a family to Christ.
There has been little fruit in this part of the country. The two largest people groups (and we are talking about a population in the millions) have no known believers. Our evangelist friend said there have been five new Christians in the past three years — all members of people groups who had moved into the area. “I am very happy,” he said about those seemingly small additions to our Christ-following ranks.
The sadder news is that none of these new believers have been admitted into the local church, which numbers fewer than 3,000 in 29 houses of worship. The church is not growing and it is scared to witness to the Muslim majority, some of whom celebrate violent extremism.
“These people are well-known fanatics and terrorists,” one of our JEJAK members said. “We have been sent here to bless them.”
We divided into three groups and spread out to speak with locals and pray over the area. We successfully regrouped later in the day and began preparations for Thursday’s prayer trek up a nearby volcano. This area needs to be washed in the prayers of the saints. It is a place where nearly all of the people profess a belief that draws strength from the dead and from shrines that have as little power as the legalistic set of rules its so-called faithful are forced to follow.