Monday, November 12, 2012

To the Ends of The Earth

Training center building - mountains outside Surabaya

In this final post about my recent ministry trip to Surabaya and the surrounding areas, I’d like to share a bit about a training center that we visited for six days.

Our group was hosted at a training center for young Christian workers going to minister in remote areas. Both Bible classes and practical training are part of the curriculum.

Young ladies preparing for ministry

Our team leader and I both had the opportunity to speak at a couple of the training sessions with the students. I shared with them directly in Indonesian, and translated for the team leader. (My vocal cords got a workout that day.)

After the classroom sessions, a number of the students came to me, asking if they could talk privately. I had the privilege of listening to, and hopefully encouraging, some very special young people as they grapple with the reality of the situations they will face.

What type of situations might that be?

Young men preparing to go to remote places
Some of the graduates of this center have gone to places that are only accessible by a two hour trek on foot. Other locations are a bit easier to get to from the nearest town…a couple hours by motorbike.

People who minister in these areas may not have access to cell phones. Internet access would be unknown. That is one of the realities the students must grapple with as they make the decision to devote their lives to minister to people who are far away from the modern conveniences to which the students have become accustomed.

Pak Yatiman, director of the training center with his family 

This is not actually a Bible school. Graduates from Bible schools often have the goal of pastoring a church…often in a city or a fairly decent-sized town. That is not the goal of this training center.

Misty mountain view
Because graduates of this center will be going to areas where there is not a church in existence, they cannot expect a salary. They need to be prepared to earn a living for themselves, and find their niche in the community where they live.

For this reason, along with basic Bible classes, the center trains the students in a variety of types of work. This includes learning how to do the special make-up and hairstyles for weddings, photography, agriculture, cattle-raising, and a number of other skills including computer. Even though internet access may not be available, as long as an area has electricity, computer skill will be useful.

Rafael helps people in his community monitor blood pressure
I met one worker who contributes to his community in a number of ways. Is someone getting married? Do they need a photographer? Rafael can do the job. Does someone need a haircut? No problem. Rafael knows how to cut hair. I can’t remember what all is in his toolbox of skills, but basic first aid and taking blood pressure are a couple of them.

Alongside all of this, he shepherds a small congregation of several families. The group meets in an upstairs room of his home. Together, they seek to grow in Christ, and reach out in love to their neighbors.

Two graduates minister in a mountain region
Another young couple with a two-year-old daughter meets with a small group of believers in their tiny living room. The wife teaches at a kindergarten. I can’t recall all the ways the husband serves in the community.

Christmas is coming up soon. It is a prime time here in Indonesia for believers to reach out to their neighbors. People of all faiths are more open at this time of year to hearing the Good News.

Both of these congregations are planning a Christmas celebration that shares this Good News with their community. They also will prepare small gifts for each of the children who attend. Yet another way to show love. No pressure. Just a gift.

Most of the training center family came to say goodbye
I was humbled by the dedication of these workers. I have given up a few things to live and minister away from my own country, but in comparison to these workers, I really have given up very little.

I trust that our Father in Heaven will strengthen and encourage these young people as they move out in faith and take His love to others in difficult-to-reach places at "the ends of the earth"..

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