NRB Strategic Partnership
April 2010 Prayer Newsletter
I’m holding in my hand a treasure. It’ s probably not something I’ll get mugged for. I don’t think I need to put it in the vault for safe keeping. In Indonesian Rupiahs...DR 250,000. And in today’s currency exchange…its US monetary value: $27.43. A treasure.
It happens every time I take off to help…to give to… Christian broadcasters in other lands. I am the one who receives the blessing. I am the one who is amazed at God’s work. I am the one who gets to hold a treasure, if but for a moment. More on that later.
I first met Paulus Wiratno over five years ago. His ministry, DiscipleMakers, had started a few small Christian radio stations in Indonesia. KCBI FM 90.9 in Dallas, Texas, wanted to involve its listeners in assisting a Christian broadcaster in another part of the world, and my friend Ron Cline of HCJB Global said Paulus would be someone we should help.
The listeners responded to the opportunity to put a Christian station in the small country of East Timor. The need was for $15,000, but these faithful listeners went beyond the call. Before the morning was over we had enough funds to help with another station. When it was obvious that financial donations were so generous, a quick phone conference was held and a second station need was identified.
However, we couldn’t tell the listeners about the island where the Christian station would go. Muslim/Christian conflict was raging. Christians were being killed in brutal ways for their faith. And neither HCJB nor Paulus wanted to stir up any more problems for the small group of believers who were requesting a radio station for the proclamation of the Gospel. It was Ambon Island.
Five years ago, on my first trip to Indonesia, our KCBI engineer, Doug Watson, and I lugged a radio transmitter in a sturdy suitcase on our flight to Bali. We met a young man from Ambon who would take the transmitter to the embattled island and set up the station. It was too dangerous for other Indonesians to go at that time. Soon the station was up and running, proclaiming the Truth of God’s love, found by accepting the free gift of His Grace, through God’s Son, Jesus.
Over the years I have quizzed Paulus about Ambon and the Christian radio station transmitting the Gospel in the midst of religious conflict. Had it been burned down? Bombed? The church that housed it destroyed? No…still standing…still broadcasting…still a witness for Christ.
About three months ago I got a brief text message from Paulus. Through his tears he texted that not only was the station on Ambon still on the air, Muslims were coming to Christ because of the consistent witness of the station. Many said the only time their heart was at peace was when they listened to the Christian station. Children of Muslim leaders were giving their hearts to Jesus. God was…is…doing His work on Ambon Island.
This week I met the station manager of Ambon’s Christian radio.
He told me how God was using the station to break down barriers between Muslims and Christians. Bitter hatred between them had led to many Christians being killed, homes burned, lives threatened. Even after the main conflict, the hatred and the memories of the atrocities kept the feelings strong and the barriers high.
Enter the Christian station in 2004. To be honest, the station is programmed differently than I would do it. There is Middle Eastern music…with Christian words. Prayer requests are taken from both Christian and Muslim listeners…asking for prayer from their own leaders. Muslim religious leaders have some access to address their people, since many listen to the station. But walls…barriers…are coming down.
Often the station invites listeners who want to know more about Christianity and about Jesus to come to a meeting. Listener meetings are held from time to time, and Christ is preached. Muslims are opening their heart. Hatred is being replaced by peace. Relationships are being built among groups that previously killed to make their point. Now they are talking. And some are asking Jesus to be the Lord of their life.
I asked the Ambon station manager how we could pray. He asked that we pray for the spiritual leaders, both Christian and Muslim, that they would come together to discuss their world, their faith, their communities. And, of course, the manager asked us to pray that many would give their heart to Jesus. God is at work in amazing ways throughout this land, and we need to be faithful to pray for His continued hand of protection, His ministry plan and direction, and for the hearts of the people…all the people…to turn to Christ, their only hope.
And…you ask…what about that treasure? What could be more moving than that experience?
Paulus asked me to speak Sunday at a house church at one of their Children’s Homes. For years this amazing ministry has added more radio stations…up to 35 now. They have added Bible schools all over Indonesia, training men and women to plant churches, over 1100 now, and to grow disciples. And they have started 12 orphanages to meet the needs of children who have lost their parents or who have been separated due to conflicts.
I am a poor preacher by any standard. I can list for you all the things I don’t know. But I serve a great…and gracious…God, who somehow uses a weak vessel to share His love and His grace to others.
I spoke to the mix of orphans, Bible students and workers at the little house church in Bali. I worshipped with vibrant young people, and a praise team of young men from the orphanage. With the help of Paulus translating, I talked of the way God wants to provide for us when we obey and give him our best. It was based on the story in 1 Kings 17 of Elijah and the widow woman of Zaraphath.
As we left the service I shook hands with many, wished them God’s blessing, and said good-bye. One young man handed me what I thought might be a note folded up. I would read it later. Probably needed a translator, anyway. It went in my pocket and we went off to Sunday lunch.
That’s when I opened what I thought was a note. It was an envelope of Indonesian money. Rupiah. In US currency…$27.43.
Me: What’s this?
I don’t get speechless often. I was speechless. I offered it back. He said, “No. You accept it.” And I did. Children. Refugees from the conflict in East Timor and other trouble spots. Children…who have no parents or, in anguish, can’t find them. Children…who would be in the streets if it weren’t for Christians who care, who teach them about love, and about giving. Their gift to me. I’m in tears.
That treasure won’t stay with me for long. I’ll give it to the amazing work God is doing in this place. But I doubt it will be the priceless treasure I received in Indonesia. Unless… unless God touches it…again.
In a later newsletter I will tell you the story of a young lady who manages a Christian station in an area that is almost totally Muslim. I watched her during this conference, and was impressed with her commitment to the calling of the Lord on her young life. I think you will have a better understanding why I feel this work is so significant.
I often tell these Christian broadcasters, who sometimes feel detached, alone, discouraged, and even under spiritual attack, that they have a cloud of witnesses praying for them and cheering them on in this race set out before them. Your prayers mean more than you can imagine.
May the risen and reigning Christ bless you, and may we celebrate the Good News that Jesus is no longer in the grave. He has risen, just as He said. Hallelujah!
Ronald L. Harris, DD
Dr. Ron Harris