What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus in a country that is 87% Muslim? What does faithfulness in this situation look like for Baptist churches and a Baptist convention? Our recent experience in Indonesia gave us new insights into – and great respect for – the lives and ministries of our sisters and brothers in that country. We were invited by the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches and Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) to be part of two special events. Together with representatives from International Ministries’ home office, we participated in the quinquennial congress of the Union in Surabaya, central Java. The Union is a new ministry partner for IM, and the presence of our group inaugurated the new relationship. It was a rich week of worship, fellowship, meetings and visits to Union churches and ministries - and delicious Indonesian food, of course!
At Satya Wacana in the city of Salatiga, we taught an intensive short course in Social Entrepreneurship for leaders of churches and non-profit organizations. Our ministry there inaugurated yet another series of partnerships. The course was offered as part of new relationship between UKSW and Payap University of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Disciples of Jesus in Indonesia live and witness in a unique situation – one that we all can learn from. The national motto is “Unity in Diversity,”and for good reason. The country is huge, not only in terms of distance and geography (17,000+ islands), economy, population (4th largest) and history, but incredibly diverse culturally and linguistically. While the Sunni branch of Islam is the majority religion, freedom of religion is guaranteed in the constitution and about 10% of Indonesians are Christians.
Since traditional methods of evangelism (public events, tracts) are neither allowed nor effective, Indonesian Baptists share the good news of God’s love in Jesus through ministries of education, health care, community development and disaster relief. Actions that show love open the door to share words of love. In Brazil we call this “missão integral” (integral mission), and in the US it’s called being a “missional” church.
If “Unity in Diversity” is a challenge where you live, too, then Indonesian Christians may have a suggestion. Words are indeed important, but it is our actions that allow them to be heard. As Jesus said: “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mat. 5:16)