It still feels surreal to all of us after months of planning and praying that we are actually in Indonesia. Of course, the sweat pouring down our brows and backs is a constant reminder that we are in fact here. It is real, this place we’ve heard so much about from our dear friends Dennis and Lynn Free. Their detailed descriptions of their Indonesian home where they have lived and served and loved Jesus for the last 38 years, while helpful, could never have adequately described the complex sights, sounds and people we have experienced already in our short stay. Like anywhere in the world, Indonesia is entirely unique and indescribable without experiencing it yourself.
More specifically, the small island where their family resides is of course likewise unique within this country and we are just beginning to scratch the surface of its cultural quirks and oddities (although we are obviously the odd ones here).
Two and half days of travel and a 14 hour time difference have taken their toll on the team although we are all holding up well. Our enthusiasm peaked this morning after a joyful reunion, birthday celebration and a good nights rest as we happily ate breakfast on the veranda of the Frees home discussing the day and praying together before leaving for church. After a long church service in a hot, crowded room followed by several hours of prayer walking in the predominantly Muslim area of their town and visits to the two largest mosques on this island we are all glad to be melting into chairs back on the veranda. It’s about 3am on our body clocks and between that and the heat we’re looking pretty pitiful, but spirits are high and we are encouraged by all the ways we have already seen the Lord move in and through the group today.
This Island is about 50% Muslim and 50% Christian which is highly unusual since Indonesia has the largest population of Muslims in the world. Across the many islands that make up this fascinating country about 90% of its people are Muslim. In 1999 ‘the conflict’ began here on this island between Muslims and Christians and lasted several years. “There’s no way to know how many have died,” Dennis said as he showed us both Christian and Muslim sites that have been burned and damaged as a result. As recently as 2011 ‘flare ups’ have occurred between the groups with casualties on both sides. And yet, as we walked through the neighborhood in the shadow of the largest Islamic Center in this region, we find hope in the joyful faces of Muslim men, women and children who invite us into their homes and allow us to pray blessings over them as we leave. This is our primary purpose as a team. To pray and build relationships with People of Peace in hopes that the seeds planted will be watered by the Frees and their Indonesian team and will grow to bring glory to the one true God.
Those who have met us today probably don’t realize that they have just encountered Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah), but we feel Him moving in and through us as we laugh and talk and pray together that His redemptive grace would bring a lasting peace to this place. As Dennis often told us when they were with us in Savannah, the footprints of Jesus are evident all over this place and we pray that we will walk in them and that we would begin to see it and its people the way He has since He created them with great love and compassion.