As I write this, we’ve been back in the U.S.A. less than 24 hours, which was preceded by 33 hours of travel and layovers (including 22 hours in the air) in our return from Indonesia. Our Indonesia trip was as eventful and successful as any we’d been on before. Laurie and I can only stand in amazement at how blessed we were to see with our eyes the opportunities to build up the church in Indonesia. Before giving specifics, a little background might be helpful.
We were invited to Indonesia by a Canadian apologist who has done ministry in Indonesia since the early 1980s. Our local contact on the ground arranged several strategic meetings with key Christian leaders, organized a two-day apologetics conference where we spoke last Friday and Saturday, and set up other speaking engagements for Laurie and me.
Some of you might be wondering, “Where is Indonesia, and why is it important?” The Republic of Indonesia is a group of islands southwest of the Philippine Islands, northwest of Australia and south of Malaysia. It is the fourth most populous country in the world, with over 250 million people, and the most populous predominantly-Muslim country in the world.
The first thing we learned about Indonesia is that it takes a long time to get there. The next thing we learned is that while there is religious freedom there, some Christians experience discrimination and oppression. But we also learned that the church in Indonesia is strong, growing, and ripe for the training we seek to bring that will further strengthen believers.
We arrived early Sunday morning and the next day spoke to around 100 leaders from a Christian college campus organization, representing ministries on 15 campuses in greater Jakarta, a city of 15 million (25 million counting the suburbs). They were excited to hear about the campus apologetics ministry of Ratio Christi, and expressed interest in us working with them. We learned that Indonesia does enforce its blasphemy laws, which indicates the delicate situation for Christians to explain their faith to others in a country dominated by Muslims.
Next we then spoke with the President and approximately 20 faculty members (including department heads) at a Christian university. Laurie and I, along with our Canadian colleague, presented the need for apologetics and worldview training for both faculty and students. The President of the university was very receptive, and we are already working on planning a return trip to commence training.
We also met with two Christian “think tank” organizations, presenting to them the need to train Christians to engage the culture, including pursuing careers in law, government and education as a way to impact their country at all levels with a Christian worldview. The member of one of the think tanks heads a university in a different region in Indonesia, and is interested in bringing apologetics and worldview teaching and training to his area.
We had a meeting with leaders from an alliance of churches in Indonesia, who represent some 20 million Christians. They were excited to hear about our willingness to come and train believers in evidence for the truth of Christianity. I also spoke to a group of Christian college students whose former members are in Parliament and other leadership roles in Indonesian government and education. They asked many questions and were very enthusiastic for further instruction in how to integrate their Christian faith into their careers.
Our apologetics conference was attended by church leaders, students, members of the government, Christian lawyers, and others. Laurie spoke on human rights from a biblical perspective, and I spoke on “The Case for Christianity.” Questions from the audience showed their concern for understanding and reaching out to their neighbors.
On Friday night I addressed a large church meeting at a congregation that is part of an immense evangelical denomination in Indonesia. The pastor graciously gave up half of his time for me to address the congregation on the need to know why Christianity is true, and how to answer questions about why we believe. The church’s main campus holds around 2,500, and there are several services there each Sunday, plus about a dozen satellite campuses that live-stream his sermons.
Finally, on Sunday morning I spoke at a different church. That afternoon Laurie and I both spoke at another church. By Sunday evening we were exhausted but blessed for having met so many believers, and receiving such warm hospitality from our Indonesian brothers and sisters.
From our first day in Indonesia it was never a question of “if” we would come back to conduct conferences, seminars and workshops, but “when” we would come back. As soon as we coordinate dates with the universities and others that want us to come back, we will let you know. Meanwhile, I am now preparing to be a keynote speaker to 1,000 pastors at a three-day conference at Kabarak University in Lake Nakuru, Kenya in less than three weeks.
Thank you for your prayers, support, and interest in our ministry. We serve an amazing God, who is able to do exceedingly more than we can even dream.