Monday, May 24, 2010

Indonesia Part 1

INDONESIA 2010 - Part 1

A little background:
Number of islands: 17,508
Number of spoken languages: >700
Muslim Population: ~203,000,000 (Estimated 2009 U.S. Population: 307 million)
Percent of Population that is Muslim: 88%
Percentage of World Muslim Population: 13%

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population. At an approximate 6.25% crude death rate that means 12,687,500 people will die every year and most likely never had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ as Saviour of a lost world.

This May I was able to make a two week trip with some friends from church to visit field workers for some projects and to help spread the gospel. We left on a Thursday morning, flew from Chicago to Hong Kong, then to Singapore where we spent the night (in what has to be one of the nicest airports in the world), and finally on to Indo the following day, a Saturday on local time. We spent the first full day just doing orientation stuff and preparing for the days to come. The next day was Sunday and we had the pleasure of attending a local church in Medan. It was like stepping back in time. No air conditioning and old SB hymnal music. The people were very friendly even though for the most part we didn't speak the same language. There were a few who spoke very good English and we spent about an hour after the service just talking to them about our different cultures. That evening we attended a house church that left me longing for worship back home to be equally as pure each and every day of my life.

We spent the next week in a coastal village called Percut (pur-choot). The first impression when stepping out of the nicely cooled SUV was being knocked back by the humid heat and the stench of garbage combined with tidal sewage. Sweet faced children immediately ran up to us calling out "bule'! bule'!" (foreigner) and the only other word they universally knew "photo! photo!". Monday we spent the day walking around meeting the locals and familiarizing ourselves with the lay of the land. Several times in the correspondence before our arrival we were told that we would come across people with a spirit of peace. What an amazing thing to see as plain as day those whom were receptive to friendly conversation and eventually to talk of the gospel. Not a day went by where we were not able to meet new people to share with, I'll expound on that in the second post.

(Friendly Fishermen)

(First house in the village)


The area school has about 200 children in it. Amongst other potential projects, the school turned out to be where we prayerfully felt led to try to do the most good in our short time there. The school has a bathroom for the teachers but none for the children. Also, most homes do not have a bathroom/squatty potty either so the kids and parents end up going wherever they can. Being a coastal village, wherever they can ends up being dispersed wherever the tides may flow... The next several days were spent talking with local leaders, government officials, the school vice principal, and whoever else it took to get the project going. By the time we left a plan was in place, monies transferred, and a contractor was starting work.

(The area "bathroom")

(The New School Bathroom)

(Almost Complete)

The other project that we were able to work out was a playground area. The current area is below the flood level and turns into a mud filled cesspool as the tides come and go. The village leaders and teachers wanted a better playground for the kids and with some of our support plan to put in a retaining wall and fill it in with fill dirt. It will be some time before it's actually done, but at least the ball is rolling. During all of this we were able to continue to meet with the locals, witness, and help build the long term relationships the local leaders need.

(The Playground)

In the next post I'll go into more of the really important things, the glorying of God that we were able to be some small part in. What I want to finish this first post on is this:

In Indonesian large cities the average worker may earn $5 or $6 dollars a day. In Percut it's down to about $2 a day. Even with the adjustment in scale for how much cheaper some items are, $2 is not a lot to feed or provide for a family or even oneself. Rich or poor, by and large man seems to find a way to be satiated with the little bit of earthly sustenance provided him. I find it difficult to find fault in this, the fault and sin as I am convicted comes in this, being so satisfied with what is given to us that we do not seek He that has provided all things, most importantly redemption. On the opposite side of the world, In the midst of this impoverished region, I could not get past the striking resemblance to my own life and what I perceive to be the general consensus of American culture. Apathy. A lack of concern or heartfelt and sincere interest toward God. I, our country, Indonesia, and I fear most of the world at large is far too easily pleased in material, emotional, and spiritual things apart from the glory of God.

Piper would say "The problem is being satisfied too easily. We believe that everyone who longs for satisfaction should no longer seek it from money or power or lust, but should come glut their soul-hunger on the grace of God."

Piper's quote is rooted in C.S. Lewis who said "Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

I would say I have been far too easily satisfied with not desperately longing for the joy found in seeking and doing God's will, in not sharing His Word, His Glory, His Gift, in not turning my eyes (and heart) from things of this world that are eternally useless.

God would say

  • Zephaniah 1:12-13: "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts,'The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.' "
  • 2 Tim. 4:3-4: "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. "
  • Matthew 16:26: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"

But praise God that He also says this:

  • Philippians 3:8: "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ"
  • 1 Tim. 6:6: "Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment"
  • Psalm 16:11: "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
  • and Psalm 42:1-2: "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."

God help me to seek you daily as deeply as I sought you while in Indonesia. God forgive me for my apathy. God help me to not grow further apathetic toward serving and desiring you. God help me to be the kind of man, father, and husband that glorifies you first and me last. Lord please daily help me to pant for you, to thirst for you, to hunger for you with a desire to glorify you and to not be so easily satisfied.


Margie said...


Angie Smith said...

Thanks for sharing your passion. Angie