After randomly meeting Christians throughout India, being connected with Mennonites in Indonesia has been very refreshing and surprising at the similarities. The first Friday in Jakarta we visited two of the GKMI (a Mennonite conference in Indonesia similar to Franconia conference in PA) churches. Both places greeted us as though we had been long time members. The faith connection with other Christians we’ve met throughout this trip has been intense. I’m reminded that indeed the family of God spreads beyond cultural bounds and oceans. What a blessing. As I’ve recognized my intense desire for comfort during much of our travels and pondered why the need for comfort trumps so much of my other desires, I realized true comfort comes in being surrounded by people who feel like family! What a blessing.
|From Indonesia - Jakarta|
We met the pastor, Pak Abdi, and some of the staff of a large Mennonite church in Jakarta. After sadly refusing various offers to spend nights at people’s houses or have more “program” from the pastor, we left feeling very welcomed by the Mennonites of Indonesia. It’s hard to know if the warm welcome was due to their excitement of the work Troy is committed to in Indonesia, the connections Dad Bergey made about 6 years ago (they remember his visit as if it was yesterday!), but I can’t help to believe anyone would also be greeted with open arms!
On Sunday, we worshiped with the Mennonite church Troy attended while he lived in Jakarta. The language felt like the only difference in the style of worship. Hymns, scripture reading, message. A young man even came to translate for us mid way through the service. Beautiful to experience people of all cultures worshipping God. Interesting, also, to attend a larger Mennonite church in Indonesia than we attend in Vermont. Somewhere along the way I assumed Christianity would be sparse in Indonesia, and although they are in the Minority, they seem more prevalent than where we are in Vermont.
After visiting Sea World Indonesia and attending an Indonesian wedding on Sunday night, we made our way to Central Java via train.
|From Indonesia - Jakarta|
In Semarang we were again warmly greeted by Pak Paul. He works at the GKMI conference center in Semarang and was happy to show us around, help us buy our next train ticket, and take us to a beautiful restaurant with his wife, despite our train showing up an hour late! He also set us up with a woman from his church to show us around Jogijakarta… a long day, but a wonderful day. I am learning a lot about welcoming and hosting people. Bu Linda took the day off from teaching and brought her husband and Buddhist brother in law to show us the Buddha central site of Burabudor and onto Jogijakarta, a place of cultural and political significance in Java. And despite all of the significance, I think I will remember most my first taste of “cow skin” Yum…a Jogjakarta special!
Bottom Line: I feel like we have much to learn from the Mennonites of Indonesia. I think if we have a chance to visit Philadelphia Praise Center, the Indonesian Mennonite church in Philly, we will. And yet, once again I’m struck with many Christian Indonesian’s intense desire to be like America. Most of the Mennonites we met are sending their children to university in the states, despite being separated from their children for years! They are happy to talk English and ask about sites in the US. And the church we worshipped in felt very similar to our own. As I think of the challenges in the church in America I wonder if that also exists in the Church in Indonesia. Each continent has work to do, but I’ve been encouraged knowing others are striving for the kingdom.