Pray with Indonesia, March 20, 2022
Lectionary Selection: Luke 13:1-9
Prayers for Indonesia
Gracious God, we pray today for the people of Indonesia. In the midst of pandemic, cyclones, floods, landslides, and earthquakes, they struggle with faith and dignity to affirm the gift of life you have given them. Let suffering awaken compassion, and compassion inspire generosity and mutual service. Strengthen your church and Indonesia’s many other communities of faith, to be signs of your grace in the hardest times.
God, we are your garden. Do not cut us off, but nurture us, strengthen our roots, that we may grow into the full measure of your grace and bear fruit to share with all our brothers and sisters. Amen.
Mission Moment from Indonesia
Whenever my mother saw scenes of war and disaster on TV, she would sigh, “There but for the grace of God go I.” She meant it as an expression of sympathy, but even as a child I could draw the logical inference: those suffering people did not receive the grace of God. Why not? Did they do something wrong? Was it their fault?
I remember my mother’s saying whenever I see the same reaction in Timor, Indonesia. It was an iron law of retribution in traditional religion here that if you please God (or the ancestors, or the powers of the forest, etc.) you will live long and prosper. If you displease God, you will suffer. And of course, the converse is true as well: being well off is proof of virtue; if you suffer, you are surely a sinner.
This way of thinking has terrible consequences, among them the common practice of hiding an illness. No one wants to admit they are ill, because it means God is angry with them, and so they are ashamed. This response was prominent in the public reaction to Covid-19: people didn’t want to be tested for fear of being “Covid-ized” and suffering the shame of quarantine. Even at funerals, it was rare for people to admit that Covid-19 was the cause of death.
Then, in the second year of the pandemic, a terrible cyclone struck our province. Hundreds of homes and dozens of churches were destroyed by wind and flood; whole villages were wiped out.
The double challenge of pandemic and cyclone was met by our partner, the Evangelical Christian Church of Timor (GMIT), with a remarkable mobilization of public education, diaconal care, and disaster relief. The foundation for it all was a simple but powerful theological insight, born of the struggle and suffering these disasters caused: in such times, the mission of the church is to merawat kehidupan: to nurture life, to defend life.
Merawat is a term that would be used about caring for a garden, as the gardener in Jesus’ parable would do. When a plant fails to thrive, the solution is not to cut it down, but to nurture it. And so it was in Timor, that when disaster struck, the church went forth to nurture life for all–good or bad, rich or poor, of every faith and ethnicity–as if to say, “There, with the grace of God, go I.”
Prayer and Mission Moment by John Campbell-Nelson
Mission Partners in Indonesia:
- Artha Wacana Christian University (UKAW, Kupang)
- Christian Church of Sumba (GKS)
- Christian Church of Sumba Theological Seminary (STT Lewa)
- Christian Church of West Sulawesi (GKSB)
- Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI)
- Duta Wacana Christian University, Yogyakarta
- Protestant Evangelical Church of Timor (GMIT)
- Jakarta Theological Seminary (STT Jakarta)
- Oase Intim
- Protestant Church in South Sulawesi (GPSB)
- Satya Wacana Christian University, Salatiga
- Theological Seminary of Eastern Indonesia (STT Intim)
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in Indonesia
John Campbell-Nelson serves the Evangelical Christian Church of West Timor. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.
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