Serving the Church in East Timor
In March, 2007, Rev. James Vijayakumar of Global Ministries visited one remote mountain village for which his visit was the first time the village had ever been reached by a motorized vehicle. The church he visited was served by an evangelist who also serves Lisa Dilla – the community where the Northern Plains Conference of the UCC has helped to build a school. The “church” is an open air church under a tarp in the front yard of the community leader’s home (see the photo). The evangelist (see photo) must travel 6 hours on foot between the two communities he serves, so he can only visit this mountain village once or twice a month. On this particular Sunday there were 40 people to be baptized. This evangelist asked Vijay for a motorbike to enable him to serve these two communities better. The need is genuine and universal in many parts of the world. (Global Ministries did provide one partner church in Sumba, Indonesia with 18 motorbikes to assist rural pastors in their ministries a few years ago.) However, the moderator of the Protestant Church of East Timor advised Vijay not to give the motorbike because all of the other pastors have the same need and it wouldn’t be fair to single out one pastor for such a gift.
There is a Catholic Church nearby this protestant church. The priest comes once every two years and charges $8 for adult baptisms and $5 for child baptisms. There is, of course, no charge for baptisms in the Protestant Church of East Timor, even though they are very much in need of funds. The evangelist who serves this remote mountain village makes about $12 a month for his labor. The evangelists used to earn more, but the church (and the whole nation) is very poor and $12 a month is all there is.