The Republic of Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania, comprising 17,508 islands. With an estimated population of around 240 million people, it is the world’s fourth most populous country, with the world’s largest population of Muslims (making up about 86% of the population).
Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest and most politically dominant ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism including rebellion against it. Indonesia’s national motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” (“Unity in Diversity” literally, “many, yet one”), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. However, sectarian tensions and separatism have led to violent confrontations that have undermined political and economic stability. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty is a defining feature of contemporary Indonesia. Response: “Many of my neighbours have profession as small traders in the market, they are Muslims, but often ask me about this broadcast. They like to listen to the teachings that comfort and strengthen their hearts.” – A. Vera
EVANGELISTIC RADIO BROADCASTS
MERF’s daughter organization, ‘Allamahaba’ (God is love), now broadcasts the Gospel in three languages on the island of Sulawesi (Bugis, Makassarese, and Toraja) and in the two main languages of Java (Sundanese and Javanese). There are short evangelistic video broadcasts in Indonesia’s main language available on YouTube. To help Indonesian churches train evangelists and lay workers to reach many more Muslims, two biblical training centers have been established in West Sulawesi and Makassar and a third one (in Bogor, West Java) is underway. These centres currently train 800 students from all over Indonesia, who are potential future church leaders.
Children’s programs bring the gospel each week to young ones at the Makassar Centre and three times a week in two Muslim Bugis communities—Soppeng and Takalala. Many Muslim children join in the programs and are able to hear the Gospel. In Soppeng and Makassar, the teachers organise gospel meetings during the Ramadan school holiday.
Diaconal projects also teach farmers new ways of planting crops and raising cattle. The goal of these projects is not only to lift the church community out of poverty, but also to share Christ’s love by doing the same for Muslim neighbours.
Biblical Training for Pastors & Elders
In mid-2010, because of encouraging responses to the gospel on the island of Java, MERF’s vision extended to training of Indonesian church planters in remote Sundanese villages. This led to purchasing a strategically located property.
A group of Java-based Indonesian Christian business people have committed to take on the construction of a training centre for evangelists, which can also be used as a conference centre for pastors and elders.
This new facility is being well-used to train Church leaders to build up their congregations and to equip God’s workers for evangelism within their communities.