Gospel Makes Inroads in Odd Ways in Indonesia

May 18, 2017

Indonesian pastor baptizing believers.
Building relationships and healing prayer are key in bringing people to Christ in Indonesia.

The head of a large Hindu temple in southern Indonesia needed a duck to sacrifice for a Hindu ceremony. He had recently met the director of an indigenous ministry, and he asked the Christian for a "special duck."

Owner of vast land holdings and husband of two wives, the 36-year-old temple leader was also the powerful head of the village. The ministry director was not sure why the village head, known as a "big fish," thought he could provide him the duck.

"I asked what the duck would be used for, and he explained that it was for the Hindu ceremony because his god wanted it to be offered in order to be appeased," the ministry director said. "He claimed that if it was not offered, the 'big fish' will be disturbed by a god and get sick."

The director, unnamed for security reasons, explained the role of animal sacrifices in ancient Israel and how they were no longer necessary as the blood of Jesus Christ is the perfect, final and sufficient offering for the forgiveness of sin.

"I tried to explain it by using a passage from the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad Gita, verse 24.23.3, which says, 'Only the life of God can be the sacrifice that can make people clean from sin,'" he said. "These words from the manuscript shocked him."

The village head has since come to him many times to ask questions, he said.

"He says he now believes in Jesus Christ but does not want to be baptized, because he is still a leader of the village and also a leader of the main Hindu temple in the village," the director said. "Please pray with me for him."

Hindus make up only 1.7 percent of the population of Indonesia, where 87.2 percent of the people are Muslim and less than 10 percent are Christian. Through evangelism, Bible and literature distribution, an orphanage and microenterprise projects, as well as a home for widows, the indigenous ministry directs its efforts to peoples who have not heard the gospel. Last year the ministry saw 54 people put their faith in Christ, including 13 who were baptized.

With outreaches in Central Sulawesi, Bali, and other islands, the ministry's nine full-time missionaries and one volunteer work among the unreached Buol, Bali Nusa, Bali Petang, Seraya, Dampelasa and other peoples, including Kodi-speakers in the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur. The ministry also trains evangelists and pastors — 15 last year — and four people recently graduated from its Bible classes.

Curious circumstances have brought to the director a range of people open to the gospel. Recently a 15-year old girl in the predominantly Hindu village where the group has a home for widows wondered why the director went there to offer them Bible studies. The widows are the only Christians in the area, and one of them had nearly died from practicing black magic before she came to Christ, he said.

"The girl wanted to understand why Jesus Christ was more powerful than black magic," he said. "One day as I was on my way to the widows' home, she followed me and asked if she could listen to what I was teaching the widows. She began to come regularly. After the third Bible study, she openly believed and professed Jesus Christ."

A friend introduced the director to the head of a large Hindu temple in another village who said black magic had left him bed-ridden with illness for two years. The director prayed with him for two months that God would protect him from the affliction, without result.

One day the temple leader's wife called and asked him to visit, saying the local shaman had stopped visiting him. In fact the shaman had been coming but was mysteriously unable to find him, the director said.

"I came to visit again, and I just asked him to invite Jesus the Doctor, saying He is God who can make you healed," he said. "I said, 'I'll pray for you, but you must believe that He is God and will make you well.'"

Gospel recordings on MP3 players open the door to the kingdom for many in Indonesia.

He prayed for him and went home. The director returned the next day and found the temple leader well enough to be mixing cement to build a wall.

"When I came, he said, 'Hello Mr. Church,' because he doesn't know my name," he said. "He said, 'Please pray for me and let me know more about Jesus,' and afterward I gave him an MP3 player with the gospel. The next week I came and baptized him."

The former Hindu remains an influential community leader, he added, saying villagers have been coming to him and asking why he came to Jesus, thus expanding the gospel advance.

A microenterprise project the ministry offered to 10 families has also introduced kingdom values, he said. The ministry bought each of the families a cow to produce dairy income, and when the recipients come together each month to discuss life and work, the director takes the opportunity to teach them how their family relations can improve through kingdom values.

"Sometimes we teach them how to be a good husband and father, how the values of the kingdom apply to them," he said. "When they began to have a different orientation toward life based on the values of the kingdom, they had a better appreciation of their lives as farmers and gardeners. The communities began to see how their teenage children had changed. We thank the Lord that He can transform communities."

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!