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!