Sunday, July 7, 2013

Update from Indonesia

Dear Friends and Family-

As I'm writing this, we're resting comfortably in a nice hotel with regular amenities.  For the past several days we were in a hotel where  they didn't exactly have the things that make Americans comfortable, like clean sheets, coffee with breakfast, cream for coffee that we got during breaks, air conditioning. and reliable wifi connectivity.  Being away from creature comforts makes you thankful for them AND aware that not everyone has them.

The Choose Life Indonesia conference was attended by 60 Christian leaders, strangely, only a few of them were from the city nearest us.  Instead, they were from all over- Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi just to name a few of the places.  We had people from various tribes and tongues coming together to learn that they bare the image of God, that He always meant for them to have Life, that Life can be re-discovered and enjoyed in Christ, and that this gift of Life is an any moment possibility.

Our first lesson is usually a very important, momentum building message, but the translator that we were working with was very shy and unsure of himself, so we knew immediately that we had to do something.  We released him from his responsibilities, which was very hard.  Pray with us for this good-hearted young man named Victor.  We do not want him to be hurt by this.  I (John), took over the translating- something for which I did not prepare- thankfully God gave grace in the moment, and it seemed to work.  It's really frustrating when everyone in the room tries to help you find a word- they're all talking out at the same time and they're using various synonyms, speaking them with various accents, and most are whispering, so you can't hear!

Things got better after that, but there was still a sense that many of those attending were not fully engaged.  That's sometimes hard to discern.  Usually, sleepers, not just dosers and nodders tell you something about the level of interest a person has in the message. :)  

Thursday was our really long day.  We began with an early-morning chapel service that brought us all to the cross in preparation to forgive..  By the time we got to the Choose Forgiveness talk, they were much more engaged.  We watched as God worked in the hearts of people, some very obviously affected by the teaching, others maintained a guarded front.  Each of us sat at a different table and got to know some of the folks there better.  Our CLI Board members- Theo and Henes were also very helpful along with two young people from Bali that Kris and Asri brought along to help with AV and Worship.

Thursday closed with a time of worship lead by Theo's wife, Susi and I got to lead with her.  We sang Garvisa's favorite "Kasih Allahku" which says "The love of my God was demonstrated for all to see in the moment that He gave up His Son..  The love of God which sacrificed for you and for me.  There is no love like His love.  I give thanks, I give thanks, I give thanks for His faithful love. I worship, I worship, and I worship..  As long as I live, I will worship Him."  Though we were all exhausted after a long day on our feet, it was a wonderful time of lifting God's name together.

The following day we had a lot to accomplish before lunch, but we did it, and at the end of the meeting there was an enthusiastic demonstration of support for Choose Life Indonesia and our message.  Before we left this crowd of people we came to minister to was minister to us in prayer.  Their love and appreciation was overwhelming.  They were all given a copy of the 10 Life Choices and after many hugs, handshakes and group pictures we said goodbye.

We came down the mountain and got to spend two nights in a nice hotel in the city of Yogyakarta.  So we enjoyed a few creature comforts, I took the team to a restaurant Garvisa and I used to enjoy, they got to see a bit of the city, and our friend, Pastor Sumbut took us out to a place that serves a huge variety of traditional Indonesian dishes.  Yum! 

It has been so much fun to be back in this city that we loved so much.  There are so many memories of our boys growing up here.  Just walking through a store we used to shop in or driving past a favorite place to eat or seeing the faces of people we grew to love.  It's all wonderful!  Tonight our team went to the church where my family attended from 1996-1999.  It was a tiny village church at the time.  We helped them in the early days with a building fund, and today they have a beautiful building fully approved by the government (a 16 year process) AND gather 200 souls together for regular worship in two meetings.  We spoke at their youth meeting, but a number of adults were present.  They blessed us with a wonderful meal including several of my favorite Indonesian dishes.  It was awesome to worship with their youth and see God working so powerfully in that church after all these years!

Tomorrow morning we fly on the early morning flight back to Bali, get settled into a new hotel and teach at another church tomorrow night.  On Monday we've been invited to share on "Spiritual Formation" with a group of pastors from one of the Baptist denominations.

We have a few little aches and pains, but they seem insignificant compared to the joy of seeing God open people's eyes to the importance of believing what God says is true about them.  Pray for good health, stamina, creativity, sensitivity to the Spirit, and for the encouragement of our Indonesian partners.

Thanks so much!

Pastor John

Friday, May 24, 2013

Financial Update May 24

Time to Celebrate!

Praise God for His provision through His children.  Recently another gift came in that brought my support to completion!  I am incredibly grateful to all of you who have prayer and given.

More good news- the personal support for my teammates is also in!  Ain't it awesome?  I think so!

There is, however, still a need for about $1,500 more to have the full amount needed to pay for the Choose Life Conference we're doing in Yogyakarta.  Pray with me about this.  My church, Grace Life Community Church, has been trusting God to bring in the amount needed to cover this expense through regular missions giving.  There's still time before we leave, and the same God who helped us raise $4K in a little more than a month can raise the remaining $1,500.  

Just so you know.  Any gifts that come in for any of the team members will be applied to the $1,500.  If you'd like to give a gift of any amount, we welcome you to throw your hat into the ring!

Click Here to make a secure, online contribution now.

In Other News

We have been busy planning our schedule and organizing accommodation, transportation, translators and so on.  Kris and Asri have been SUPER busy with their ongoing ministry, their kids, serious illness in their family and other things, but they are still working hard to prepare for our coming.  Please keep them in your prayers!  Pray for clarity of communication between me and them.  We do most of that on Facebook Chat and email.  It's easy to misunderstand one another, especially when we're working in a second language in which I'm quite rusty and a twelve hour time difference.  Early in the morning here, is late at night in Bali- 12 hours difference.  So as I'm writing this on Friday at 3:30pm in the US, it is Saturday at 3:30am on Bali.

Schedule Highlights

  • June 29- Depart Washington
  • July 1 @ 7pm- Arrive in Denpasar
  • July 2 @ 10am- Depart for Yogyakarta
  • July 3 - Choose Life Conference Begins
  • July 5 - Choose Life Conference Ends
  • July 6 - R & R + Sat. Evening Ministry Opportunity
  • July 7 @ 7:25am- Depart Yogya
  • July 7 - Preaching at ROCK Church on Bali
  • July 8 - Preparation for Marriage Conference
  • July 9 - Full Day- Life Choices in Marriage Conference (ROCK Church, Bali)
  • July 10-11 - CLI Encouragement & Training
  • July 11 - Rectors Depart for US
  • July 12 - Bob Leaves for India
  • July 14 - John Departs for US
  • July 15 - John Arrives in US

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Financial Update - May 7

Good Afternoon,

I've had a few rough days recently.  Feeling misunderstood, confused by changes in circumstances, forays into the flesh, embarrassment, etc.  They all challenge my ability to focus on truth and the truth's power to lead me to joy (and keep me there).  So I show up at my desk this morning in desperate need of reassurance and encouragement, and what do you know... God speaks.  Here's the word I received for today.... 
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thes. 5:16-18
Dang!  That's hard!  Rejoice ALWAYS?  "Lord, you're being insensitive!  Don't you see what I'm going through?"  Suddenly I'm reminded of what Garvisa and I have been learning from the wonderful little book entitled "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp.  Eucharisteo- thanksgiving is the precursor/predecessor of JOY!  If I want to rejoice, I must choose to give thanks. Paul doesn't let me off the hook, here.  My sorry circumstances don't justify a sour, ungrateful disposition.

I am SO blessed!  I have so many reasons to be grateful!  Here are just a few....

  1. I am a dearly loved child of the God of Creation.  In Him I have significance, security, acceptance, love, courage, hope, joy and peace.
  2. I am married to my hero and dearest friend.  She speaks truth to me when my emotions make me feel derailed.  She loves me unconditionally, even when I .... (fill in the blank).
  3. I have a wonderful son of whom I am very proud who is about to graduate from high school and continue his journey into adulthood.  He's funny, handsome, intelligent and very interesting!  :)
  4. I work with some of the greatest people on the planet doing a job I LOVE to do, even on the hard days.
  5. I am surrounded by a plethora of amazing friends who bring so much color and fragrance to my life.
  6. I have siblings who love and care about me.
  7. I have a comfortable home to live in (for the time being). :)
  8. I am part of a fantastic church filled with wonderful people who know and care about me.
  9. I get to go to Indonesia this summer with Bob, Tom and Debbie!  I get to see Asri, Kris, Suhenes, Nining, Theo, Susi, Sumbut, Marmi, Dewa, Putu & Julie and all their kids: Kheny, Sasha, Gloria, Jeffenex, Bobby, Esi, Dio, Danny, David and Rachel along with a whole bunch of other friends. 
  10. God has use wonderful friends and family to raise up 75% of my personal support need so far!  Only $950 to reach my goal of $4k! 
See, just going through that little list of 10 things, I'm feeling more joyful already!  To do that, I had to agree with God that He has blessed me.  By enumerating those blessings, I'm declaring my agreement with God.  The outcome is JOY!

This weekend is our "Cafe Bali" Fundraiser at Grace Life Community Church.   We will offer a wide variety of fresh baked goods including donuts, muffins, breads, pastries and fruit for breakfast along with 3 delicious blends of freshly-roasted Indonesian coffee.  The Cafe will be open from 10:30am until Noon.  All food and drinks will be offered on a donation basis.  Come and enjoy the refreshments and leave a generous donation to help offset the expenses of the mission.   To make a secure, online contribution for the mission trip, click here.

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Financial Update- May 1


That's how I feel!  It seems like just a couple weeks ago I was really wondering if I was asking a little too much of my friends and family, but God... two of our favorite words, huh?  God steps in and blows our mind with His grace and provision.  

So far He has provided 66% of my personal goal for "Encourage Indonesia 2013", and I believe that the rest is on the way. 

Thank you SO much for your generous contributions.  Pray with me for the money being raised by Bob Perdue for his personal support and for the $4,000 being raised by our church to sponsor the Choose Life Conference in Central Java.  

On May 12, we will be holding a "Cafe Bali" fundraiser at Grace Life Community Church to help raise awareness about the trip and funds to help meet our expenses.  We'll be selling wonderful, freshly roasted coffee from Sumatra and Bali as well as donuts, pastries, muffins and cookies.  The Cafe will be decorated using Indonesian artifacts and colors.  All are welcome.  Food and drinks will be free for the taking for a donation of any amount.  Please join us!
If you'd like to help with the "Cafe Bali" Fundraiser on Mother's Day, let me know!

If you'd like to make a secure, tax-deductible contribution to "Encourage Indonesia 2013", please CLICK HERE.

Terima kasih!

Pak John

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Choose Life Indonesia- Prayer Video

Financial Update- April 16

As of this afternoon, God has provided for nearly 40% of my financial need for my upcoming trip to Bali.   God has used this process to remind me that He is not only with me, but that He loves me and knows what I need better than I do.   He is SO good- not because He provides the "stuff" I need, but because lets us be part of what He's doing.  How amazing is that?  He's doing cool stuff in Indonesia, and He lets me join Him in it!  

I hope I've never given you the idea that God "needs" me.  He's more than able to do this work completely apart from me.  He could speak through a billy goat or simply proclaim His truth through the grandeur of the mountains, but instead, He has given me this love...this passion....for these people!  He has given me seven years of living among them...learning their langage, eating their food.  He has given me wonderful spiritual children who are faithfully serving Christ after all these years.  

He has placed me at Grace Life Community Church with Bob Perdue and the Rectors (Tom and Debbie).  They have opened up their heart to Indonesia, and are gladly returning despite the cost and previous hardships they encountered.  The rode with me on a bus, on a creaky ferry that bobbed up and down for hours while they were trapped on the bus.  They caught intestinal bugs and other medical conditions that caused no small discomfort, but they have signed up once again to return to Indonesia.  Can you believe it?  Yeah, God is good!  

He's got this!  $2600 is nothing for the King of Creation.  He's not wringing his hands over the condition of the economy or the nationwide reduction in charitable giving.  He's got this!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Encourage Indonesia 2013


This is the typical greeting given by Indonesian Christians addressing a group.  The meaning, of course, is "Peace!"  A better rendering might be "Peace to you!"  Sadly, I feel a bit disingenuous exhorting you to  be at peace when my insides are fluttering away as I write this to you. Here's why....

For the past several years you have journeyed with me- some in prayer, some in financial support, others in both- as I have fought to maintain my long-distance connection with the people in Indonesia for whom God has given me a great burden.  I have attempted to express my gratitude over the years, but I never feel like I've done enough to really communicate just how much I appreciate your help.

I tell myself, this isn't about me, it's about helping Indonesian people discover and experience the abundant life Jesus came to give them.  This is true, but my heart's totally in it, and you know that.  You know that I have a deep longing to stand with these dear folks, and you have been willing to help to make that possible.

And now I find myself sitting again to write a letter "inviting" you to "share" in another "opportunity" to spread the message of grace and life in Christ to people on the other side of the world.  People you'll probably never meet until we get to heaven.  Because there's so much of me tied up in this, I'm finding this a VERY difficult task.  For this moment, I'm walking in the truth that this calling is from God and that the combination of my passions, availability and gifting further confirm the call of God to remain actively involved in this ministry.

So, on June 29th, I will be leading another team back to Indonesia to continue investing in this work.

You may know that Indonesia has been part of my life for more than 20 years.  Click here to view the timeline of events illustrating the relationship.

This year, I'm calling our mission "Encourage Indonesia 2013" because we're not just going to Bali, we've accepted an invitation to conduct a "Choose Life Conference" in Yogyakarta, the city in Central Java where my family lived during our last three years in Indonesia. In 2012, my long-time friend, Sumbut Yermianto became the Director of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Yogyakarta.  He was previously on Bali.  Sumbut is married to Putu, one of the girls we discipled back in the 90s.  They were founding members of the Choose Life Indonesia Board of Directors and have been helpful as friends and partners of the ministry.

The Plan

The GLCC team will be leaving on June 29th, the day after we finish our church's huge VBS outreach to nearly 500 neighborhood kids. Timing is everything, right?  :)  We'll meet up on Bali on July 1, and fly out to Yogykarta on July 2.

We'll conduct the "Choose Life" conference in Yogya  July 3-5, then preach in two Yogya churches on July 7 before flying back to Bali on July 8.

We will then conduct a "Life Choices in Marriage" conference in Bali on July 9-10.  We'll have some focused time to encourage Kris and Asri before the Rectors leave on July 11 and Bob leaves on July 12.  I will have a few days with them alone and will be able to preach in one church on Sunday July 15 before my departure.

Our Goals

Asri, Sasha, Kris, Kheni
  • Expose Christian leaders in Central Java to the "Choose Life" message to expand the influence of Choose Life Indonesia while providing Kris, Asri and other leaders with opportunities to grow in their articulation of the message.
  • Empower Christian couples on Bali with the ability to make Life Choices in Marriage.  Teaching them to tap into God's ideal rather than the vast array of broken alternatives for navigating their Christian Marriage.
  • Encourage Kris and Asri in their journey as they deal with significant trials and grief in their extended family.  

Will you help?

The Team: Bob, Harni (translator), Tom & Debbie Rector
So, it's pretty obvious that this can't happen without significant financial assistance.  Because the cost of my airfare was so high this year, I'm attempting to raise $4,000 to cover my expenses.  Bear in mind that more than half of that is airfare.  I don't have exact figures on housing, but Bob and I are splitting the cost of a room that is usually $50-$60/night.  Food is usually $20/day.  There are lots of other costs that have to be figured in, and we each need to contribute $200 for ministry expenses.

If you'd like to help make this 2 weeks of ministry possible please click on the following link to Contribute Financially to Encourage Indonesia 2013.  Your gift will be received and processed by Grace Life Community Church as a tax deductible contribution.

You might be wondering why I've waited until now to begin raising support.  Great question!  Frankly,  I have been spear-heading some changes at GLCC that have added significantly to my workload.  Throw into that a knee surgery/recovery and a few IT outages that require my immediate, concentrated attention, and there you have it.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that this experience is really challenging the previous bounds of my trust relationship with God.

Obviously, your prayers on behalf of this venture are greatly needed and appreciated.


I really appreciate your friendship, love, prayers and support.  I know how tight things are for everyone these days, and while I'm hesitant to send this, I'm trusting God that He knows exactly who can and will help financially.

Living loved and forgiven,