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Expanding Christ's Kingdom on 'the Island of Gods'

October 6, 2016

Far from Bali's tourist resorts, a village woman is baptized.

On Indonesia's island of Bali, Hindu villagers mix worship of myriad deities with service to Buddhist figures, ancestors and spirits; a potpourri of barriers to the gospel that the director of an indigenous ministry is well suited to overcome.

"I am an original Bali who has a very rare opportunity to be able to serve and reach my brothers," said the leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons. "This is an advantage for me to more easily reach them."

Known as the "island of the gods" with its estimated 20,000 temples and shrines, Bali has a population that is more than 80 percent Hindu amid the predominantly Muslim archipelago of Indonesia. Though Islam is growing in Bali Province, Hindu/Buddhist belief mixed with animism, magic and mythology permeates all aspects of most islanders' lives.

The animistic traditions of the indigenes who adopted Indian Hinduism and Buddhism held that gods and goddesses inhabited all things. Thus hills and shrubs or swords and sheets are seen as containing spirits for good or evil, and villagers try to influence them through ritual.

Within this context, the kingdom of God has been growing in Bali through the indigenous organization's service to the poor. While cultural knowledge is key to knowing how to relate to and nuance communications with villagers, the love of Christ is directly expressed through meeting felt needs.

The ministry runs an orphanage and social outreach projects to help people overcome poverty, but it was a worship service at the director's house church that recently attracted a dual-religion couple - a Muslim man and his Hindu wife.

"One child is excited to be baptized, and one of the poor children at the children's home will see his family baptized soon," the director said.

"Initially they came because the house church is their 'neighbor' - they visited through that relationship," the ministry leader said.

With conflicting religious ideas about marriage, the couple needed answers to questions about how they were to relate to each other as husband and wife. The leader happened to be teaching about marriage from Eph. 5:22-33 at his church.

"Last month they came to us after I'd explained what the Bible said about family, wives and husbands," he said. "They received the Lord Jesus and, on a later Sunday, they were baptized. Thank the Lord."

The ministry, with assistance from Christian Aid Mission, provides literal food as well as spiritual food, offering meals that help build relationships. At one such outreach, the director recently met a villager who appeared to have gambled away his money. He asked the Christian leader for a loan.

"I told him that I don't have money or gold, but I have love and compassion," he said. "He looked around, and then he asked me to follow him to their house to meet with his wife and son. We talked about love and Jesus. The man was very happy to hear about Him. His wife also was very happy, hoping the husband would not gamble again."

The leader and his ministry team are working to help the villager and his wife come to know Christ, he said.

Empty throne erected for Sanghyang Widi Wasa, supreme god of Balinese Hinduism. (Photo Credit: Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage)

Christian workers also offer to help poor parents enable their children to go to school. Every semester, the ministry provides 25 students with uniforms, books, shoes and writing supplies, and, for the high school students, tuition for fees. The assistance amounts to $200 per student.

Without this assistance, he said, the children would not be educated.

"Providing this help builds a great bridge to share the gospel with them and their families," he said. "There are many more children that we could reach. For example, at the Besakih Temple in Besakih, on Mt. Agung, a village of 1,000 kids, none of them have ever attended school. We would love to double this to 50 children that we would help."

The poor area of Bali where the ministry works is overrun with children whose parents cannot afford to take care of them. The ministry runs an orphanage that provides food and shelter to these children and others who have lost their parents. Workers hope to expand the home to accommodate 50 children from its current capacity of 20. They also hope to add media room facilities, library books, computers and cooking utensils to the home.

"One child is excited to be baptized, and one of the poor children who lives at the children's home will see his family baptized soon," the director said. "This family has already been reached and taught, and they are looking forward to the step of baptism."

Five widows resident at the home also receive care at a cost of $150 per month each. Two of them have put their faith in Christ, he said.

"The widows are happy even though they have no family, no children and no husband," the leader said.

The orphanage is built in a God-given location, he said, not far from the children's school, a market, a hospital and the church's Sunday school.

"In particular, the children pray regularly every morning and evening for the special sponsors of Christian Aid Mission, who are a channel of blessing for children who have not been lucky," the director said. "They are grateful for your support, because it provides them a stable place, and they don't have to move again."

To help indigenous missionaries to meet needs, you may contribute online using the form below, or call (434) 977-5650. If you prefer to mail your gift, please mail to Christian Aid Mission, P.O. Box 9037, Charlottesville, VA 22906. Please use Gift Code: 750YKI. Thank you!

Support evangelism through compassion ministries, Indonesia
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