Joy to the Nations
Saturday, August 5 -Semarang City
Its my first night in Indonesia, and it feels so surreal. Just weeks before, all I had wanted was to go anywhere in the world. To enjoy God’s green and mostly blue world, to experience the local culture in a far and away land, to take in the sights of a foreign place, to listen to the unfamiliar babble of another man, to just feel the wind through my short hair in another land, and to eat what the locals eat. I want to immerse myself into another culture and think, “Wow, God loves these people in another land too, heck, He loves the entire world!”
I didn’t want to spend my first night in a hotel room, so Raymond and I headed out into the streets and it was intense. We wanted to cross a road and we figured there was no way we could do that. There are no traffic lights around, and I’m thinking, : “ How in the world do they get across?” We observed a few locals, calmly walking into the traffic, and the most amazing thing happened. Every vehicle of different makes slowed down, and simply avoided them. Motorcycles ( the choice of transport here in Semarang) zoomed past them, wiggling their way in between people and cars. It was just the first night, and already I knew I was going to enjoy immersing myself into a different culture.
Sunday, August 6, Semarang City
Darwin, the lead elder of JUBILEE picked us up just 15 minutes before the meeting was suppose to start. I’m thinking, how are we suppose to get there in time? And it turns out, we did arrive fashionably late and everyone was already waiting for us. It was such a grand welcome, and it felt like as though they’ve been waiting for us every since Darwin made the announcement that we would be coming. People stood at doors, greeting us, and we shook hands, as we made our way in. I’ve never shaken so many hands in just 5 minutes. We were introduced by Darwin, and there was the whole rah rah welcome. I could just feel the hunger in these people for guys to come in and impart into the local church. They were really happy to receive us. The musical part of the worship started and it was SO INTENSE. From the first strum of the guitar, everyone was already ecstatic! Every single person in the room was jumping up and down, and dancing unto the Lord. Darwin who was just next to me, was really grooving and giving his all to the Lord. I’ve never seen a man his size do that, and he has inspired me. The presence of God was immediately upon us and even I, was dancing unto the Lord like a fool. Who cared how I looked like? I was praising and worshipping the Creator of the universe.
Eugene, started off by introducing us. Raymond, as the worship leader, me as a youth leader and Jenny as someone who leads him. I’m thinking again, : “ Eh? oh yea, I do lead the young people. It sure doesn't feel like it though. I haven’t exactly started any sort of ministry. Ministry, thats a new and funny word.” Eugene then did what he does best, preaching the word of God.
After the service, Jenny and I made an interesting observation. Everyone turned their chairs, facing each other and started to fellowship with others, some even praying for one another. It was amazing, it seemed like everyone was actually interested in everyone’s life. We all started talking to people, quickly introducing ourselves, and sharing our lives with one another. What seemed like forever, was cut short by Darwin who wanted to take us out for lunch. Lunch came and went, and there was even more sharing and relating amongst us.
Dedi, a really good friend of mine whom I met during the Asia GTT in Johor Bahru, Malaysia had offered to take me around Semarang City, and to see and experience the real Semarang City. It was such a precious opportunity, and I grabbed it. Dedi took me on his bike, and I can’t help but laugh. My dad surely wouldn’t have allowed me, but there was nothing he could do.I was far and away. Heh heh. During the Asia GTT, Darwin had put on a power point slide, reporting on the work in Semarang City, and I had the pleasure of actually visiting the training centers that they had spoken about. As we entered the “suburbs”, traveling up and down the steep slopes, it was getting dark, and I could hear the evening prayers that were broadcast from the nearby mosque. I can’t help but feel that we were two underground christians in a muslim land, visiting “training centers” were people will be disci-pled, and then sent out to plant more cell groups in Indonesia. It’s cheesy, but I felt like I was in a movie, and that I could die from a gunshot anytime. I guess the media had its effect on me. In all, I visited two “brother centers”, two “sister centers” and a workers meeting. Dedi being his cheeky self introduced me as the “single guy from Singapore” to the sisters. It was so weird, having over ten pairs of eyes, asking me all sorts of questions about Singapore. It was somewhat overwhelming, but I did have nothing to lose. After all, I did come with an intention to fellowship with christians from another part of the world.
Dedi took me to the workers meeting too, and without even giving me a chance to settle down, they were already asking me if I had anything to say about starting a business. “Sheesh, Kendall should be here, and not me”, I thought. Well I did have things to say, and it seemed that they felt the same way I did about juggling between a business, social life, marriage (hopefully soon!) and most importantly, quiet time with God.
Monday, August 7, Semarang - Salatiga
We headed out to Salatiga. Salatiga is a Student town, that is predominantly christian. I’m having second thoughts about Indonesia being a muslim nation. Then again, Indonesia is a large country. What is one christian town compared to the rest? Siswo leads the church of some 100 young and zealous born again christians. Almost everyone is a student at the local university. I still remember Eugene leaning over to us, saying: “Prepare something to say.” The thought immediately sank in and we prepared ourselves accordingly. Kendall, Raymond and I had a great time sharing. After the service, we spent more time just talking to the students, and everyone is so eager to get to know us. I felt so loved by strangers that I’ve never met. Then again, we are the body of christ. I had so much to share with them and many could relate with me; about our parents who aren’t saved.
Tuesday, August 8, Semarang - Jogjarkata
We spent most of today sightseeing. Kendall bought us lunch at a boutique hotel called AmanJiwo. AmanJiwo was surreal. It’s location is hidden by thick vegetation, and it’s path long and narrow. One would have to know where it is to go there. The place had the words opulent and decadent written all over. Such a beautiful place that was built by man reflects their creativity. I can’t help but think, that it was God who created the creative man. God is indeed creative, and has made the world beautiful. Anyway, after a sumptuous lunch and short tour of the hotel, we went on our way to Jogjarkarta. Yopi, another friend of mine leads the church there. Currently he travels up and down the winding roads for 3 hours each week on thursdays, and returns on mondays to be back with his wife and daughter. He’s been praying about the situation and hopes to eventually relocate to Jogjarkata with his Family.
Wednesday, August 9, Semarang
We had a special meeting for leaders today in the church’s office building. It was a smaller group of people, but these guys are all cell group leaders, and it’s amazing to just see all of them gathered there. It was during working hours and yet so many had made an effort to come for the meeting!
I’m looking forward to tonight’s prayer meeting. It would be the first one in another church, and it’d be interesting because Raymond was asked to worship lead. We arrived fashionably late, and had only 15 minutes to get acquainted with the band, and play together for the first time. By God’s grace and unity in spirit, we got it going and it was so awesome. God’s presence was definitely there and everyone was worshipping with such zeal. Eugene conducted a prophecy workshop, like the one we had gone through during our own prayer meeting. The results were very interesting. Several people went up to share what they had seen and heard from God, with confirmation of one or two people from their group. The usual chit chatting ensued after the meeting, and in our group, one guy who had been going from church to church for a long time didn’t feel the presence of God until he joined Jubilee Church, and he wanted more of it. So we all prayed for him and I had the honour of sharing Acts Chapter 4 with him through an interpreter.
Thursday, August 10 - Saturday, August 12, Semarang - Bangdungan
Today’s the Geographical Training Time and we all headed up to the hills of Bangdungan.
It was a nice change of environment because it gets fairly cold at night. We all bunked in a dormitory, while some checked into a hotel. Over the next two days, we’ll have a total of 4 sessions. Dave Haggar from the Coastlands spoke and Ian Mckellar from Singapore lead the meeting. It was a time of hearing the word. We also had further reports of the church in Indonesia. There are fifteen churches in total, with more cell group leaders wanting to plant churches in areas that are still untouched.
Going to the nations has been one of the best things I’ve done so far this year. It was an opportunity that was made possible by the church (That’s you guys!). I couldn’t afford the trip but I had been “sent” by the church. People in the book of Acts had been prayed for and then sent out by the church. To be able to live the moment those guys had been doing, is such a great honour and blessing upon me. This trip has opened my eyes to realities I’ve not previously seen before, raised several questions about my walk with God, and it has allowed me to fellowship with believers from another land. All in all, this trip has changed my life. The Indonesian LTT is coming up in December and Church of Joy is helping with the organization. God willing, I’m definitely going back again, and I encourage everyone to go. There are many things that are difficult to put down in words. Only by being there, and living out the moment can you fully understand and feel about the realities and emotions felt in Indonesia. It may not exactly be the Shangri-La, but fellow-shipping with the people there is far more worth than a luxury tour to Spain.