Lessons from Indonesia

I’ve been home only a couple of days now from Indonesia where I accompanied Chuck Register and Joel Stephens to lead two regional pastors conferences for the Indonesian Baptist Union. We spent 38 hours in planes and airports getting home, but I feel as if it will take me 38 days to recover. The people were very polite and made us feel welcome. I have been reflecting on the trip and my learnings. If you have ever get the opportunity to serve on mission outside of the U.S., I urge you to go. You will never be the same.

Jakarta

I am fascinated by all the different people that God has created. There are vast differences in culture, color, language, body size and shape, but we are all created by God in His image. I saw that the Indonesians I met are people just like me. I want to take time to process my brief experiences with these people before I post too much about the journey, but I know there will be several take-aways that will apply to creating a disciple-making culture here where I live.

The first lesson is very straight-forward, though: Everybody worships something or someone, and there are many idols competing for the worship of people. Whether it was the Islamic call to prayer over the mosque loudspeakers in Jakarta or the Western call to purchase in the glittering Cartier and Chanel ads at the airport in Dubai, people are being called to worship false gods of man’s own making.

God created people to worship, but that need to worship is often misplaced by worshiping the wrong object. The claim of Deuteronomy 6:4 that there is one God that we are commanded to love exclusively with all of our essence is as counter-cultural today as it was millennia ago. The claim that this one God has granted access to relationship with Him exclusively through Jesus Christ is still revolutionary. The world desperately needs to hear that Jesus is Lord and that He is the only Lord. The question is, do American Christians live in such a way that we credibly can claim Jesus is Lord of our own lives, much less the Lord of all? How about you? Is Jesus your One Lord?

 

Why should we go?

Tomorrow I leave in a group of three for a ten day mission trip to Indonesia to participate in conferences encouraging and equipping pastors. I am thankful for the opportunity and amazed at the doors God continues to open for global discipleship. The thing I’m excited about the most is getting to learn from the people I will meet.

Image: twobee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Indonesia is the world’s third-laregest democracy and over 80% (186.7 million) of the people are Muslim. Nonetheless Christianity is a recognized religion and Christians have the freedom to worship there. Some, even some Christians, may wonder why I would travel over 24 hours and spend ten days away from my family in a context I’m not familiar with to participate in this conference. Here are just a five of the reasons why I go, and why I think every believer should seek to go.

  1. Christ commands it. The last command Jesus gave while on earth was for His disciples to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). I believe that command to witness globally is still valid.
  2. Stewardship. God has afforded those of us who live in the West tremendous opportunities for education and equipping that many pastors in other places do not have. Many Sunday school teachers I know have larger theological libraries that do most pastors in Asia. Part of the responsibility that comes with this investment is the obligation to invest in others.
  3. To encourage these church leaders. According to their denominational leadership, there is great discouragement among the pastors in Indonesia. Being a pastor anywhere can be a lonely vocation. I want to be a part of spurring these men on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).
  4. For my own encouragement. Whenever I travel overseas and see the church in a different context, it helps me get a more accurate picture of God’s true church. I am always humbled by the faith I see in believers who are persecuted or marginalized due to their confession of Jesus as Lord. I know I will learn more than I will teach.
  5. So that God will be glorified. The chief end of missions is that God will be glorified among all the nations and peoples of the earth (Psalm 96). When people do not know the name of Jesus and are not given the opportunity to confess Jesus as Lord, then God is robbed of the glory that is rightly His.
And so, I go. Please pray for us. Pray for the pastors we will be spending time with. Pray for the preaching opportunities that we will have along the way. Pray for our families as we are separated. Most of all, pray for God to be glorified among the nations!

Learn more about praying for Indonesia at Operation World.