Asian Rural Institute graduate working in Bali, Indonesia
Here is another “success” story about an ARI graduate that Global Ministries helped. Can we use it on the web. It’s from Lyle Predmore who is an MMI and spends time in Indonesia each year.
Gede and sons Subarashi and Duta
On a recent trip to far west Bali, Hiroko and I visited Gede Suarna at his office at Maha Boga Marga or MBM in Meleya. MBM is the outreach arm of The Protestant Christian Church in Bali (GKPB). MBM helps put Jesus commandments to feed the poor, heal the sick and take care of the needy in practice on behalf of the 73 GKPB churches in Bali.
We found Gede in the office that also houses a credit union type of bank. His wife, Made works along side him as one of two cashiers.
The bank’s small loans, most under $100, go to small family business.
It may be something as simple as a sewing machine so that a mother may have a small business from her own home. Many of the loans come through groups that include those of similar interests. MBM gives group training and helps monitor the success of each person.
Currently some 1,000 are being served this way through the Meleya office, regardless of their faith as Hindu, Moslem, Christian or no faith. The Christians of Bali are simply following Jesus commandment to feed the poor.
Gede used the excuse of our visit to get out of the office for awhile. We went to his own home, where in a small garden he is putting into practice some of the agriculture practices he learned at the Asian Rural Institute in Japan where he spent 10 months last year.
Hiroko found some Japanese herbs growing that he had brought back with him. Gede and Hiroko shared some of the culinary joys of Japanese cuisine, some ideas that might be adapted to Gede’s work with the local farmers and the village kitchens.
Gede is also a Veterinarian, after MBM office hours he grabs his bag of tools and makes his visit to the patients who need him. We stopped by one village farm that has three cows. One was sick and being treated by Gede. At the same time he explained how he was helping the farmer produce organic fertilizer by mixing the cow manure with coconut shells and rice husks.
The staff at the bank. Gede is far right, his wife Made is in the center.
Gede shared a story from his childhood. Many of the cows of his native village became sick one year, and most of them died. At a young age he made a decision to go to school and learn how to prevent this from happening again. His father was not pleased with the decision; he needed Gede and the other brothers to work on the farm.
Gede discovered that the Blimbingsari church could, and did help him with his education. In the process he learned about the love of God in Jesus Christ, and himself became a Christian. It was not easy living as a Christian in a Hindu village. Now his former tormenters welcome him back as he, the local Veterinarian who comes to take care of their sick animals.
From Gede’s home we stopped by his in laws farm. There we found his mother in law baby sitting Gede’s two sons, Duta age 6 and Subarashi
age 8 months. The youngest, was born while he was away studying in
Japan last year. Not the best memory of the family sacrifice that was made for more training. On the other hand, the little guy’s name says it all, “Subarashi” is Japanese for “fantastic, wonderful or marvelous”! A name that tells the joy of a healthy son and the love of the extended family. Gede’s oldest child Marie, age 11, had not returned from school yet.
Gede and Hiroko in his garden inspecting
Gede’s father in law has a larger farm, and with Gede has been a leader of a group of farmers who experiment with better animals and crops and put their findings to practical use. One of the projects now is to build a pit for pig manure, which will produce biogas.
In the past Indonesian has used its natural resources of crude oil to make gasoline, kerosene and products very inexpensive. Many kitchens used kerosene stoves for cooking. Now the world demand for oil has changed this. Propane is now being used instead of kerosene, but that too is becoming more expensive. So biogas produced by the pigs is a practical, close under foot and a simple answer for the housewife’s cooking needs.
A few years ago we saw vanilla beans being planted by farmers in Bali. The price of vanilla on the world market was very good, and a more lucrative crop than either cocoa or coffee trees. Gede and his father in law had a crop of vanilla beans, but we were told that the international trade of vanilla beans had been ruined by greed. It seems that some exporters found they could add weight to the beans with sand in the pods. When this was discovered Indonesian vanilla beans was banned by those who process them. The village farmer suffers the loss of a market.
They said the same thing happened to honey export when greedy processors were found to be adding cheap sugar to the honey.
Greed knows no boundaries.
Gede and Lyle Predmore
Gede’s present home, and the village where he was raised, is near Blimbingsari which was the first Christian Village in Bali established in 1939. Through the years the village as been a model for other villages, and has received national recognition and award for being an example for all villages to follow.
The church that stands at the center of the village is considered the “mother church” of The Protestant Christian Churches of Bali. The church and the entire village have been a light house to the entire area in many ways. The orphanage and poor children’s home near the church has been an encouragement to many young people like Gede.
Gede receive his early Christian education at Blimbingsari and served on the church board at one time. Now he and his family are leaders in a newer congregation near his home in Meleya.
One recent change in the complexion of the community is an influx of Muslim families moving into the area from Java. A new mosque has been built on a highly visible site near Blimbingsari.
Just as MBM and workers like Gede have faced new challenges for the farmers, and the poor villages, the Christian community is aware that God’s world where they minister to a God’s has an ever changing face.
Gede with his bag of tricks for the animals
When Blimbingsari was established in 1939, the country was a colony as part of Dutch East Indies. This was followed by Japanese occupation during WWII, the independence as a nation and two military dictators until the first elections in 1999. In 1974 an earthquake did extensive damage in the area. Australian Christians responded, and resulted in extensive infrastructure additions including a massive damn that feeds water to the entire area.
Changes occur. New challenges for Gede’s farmers of his community.
Changes and challenges for those he worships with on Sunday.
In the midst of this, God’s love remains constant. The Body of Christ reaches around the world. Jesus words to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and baptize nations remain unchanged.