All of the regular contributors at Do Not Depart are American citizens. We live in a country that has built into its very governmental system the right to free speech and the right to gather for worship. And while sometimes it seems that those rights are being infringed upon, none of us has experienced daily persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ.
Today’s anonymous guest writer has. We are so thankful that our guest was willing to share this story with us, the story of growing up in Indonesia and becoming a Christian. Statistics show that less than 10% of the population of Indonesia is Christian. The odds are stacked heavily against Christians in Indonesia. Please pray for our brothers and sisters, and pray that God’s truth would be made known! – Patti
“And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering.” (2 Thessalonians 1:5 NLT)
I believe no one in this world wants to suffer for what they do right. We all want justice. But the truth is that we see injustice happening in every community.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:5, justice comes after persecution and suffering. This verse reminds us that God will use every persecution we suffer as His followers to show His justice that makes us worthy of His Kingdom.
Persecution is not only physical but also emotional, mental and spiritual. In the country where I came from, persecution is in all those forms.
People who turn to follow Jesus in the west part of Indonesia are physically abused and persecuted because of their faith. Those who live in the center of the country are persecuted mentally and spiritually because the unbelievers burned down their churches and left our brothers and sisters with no place to worship God. They would even be accused of building a church without permission in the community where the majority are Muslim. And those who live in the eastern part of the country are persecuted spiritually and live in poverty, because they have been abandoned by the government who want to take control of the natural resources in these areas by leaving the people to live uneducated.
For me, persecution is emotional and mental. When we come to know Jesus and follow His ways of living, we live differently than this world. I had heard about Jesus since I was little but I came to know Christ personally when I was at college.
Before I came to know and follow Jesus, most of my high school friends called me names because I was different than them. I looked different than them. I went to public school where all the “national local” people would go, but those who were like our family, Chinese descendants, would go to private school. But my parents could not afford to send three of us to private school, so they sent me to public high school and my 2 younger sisters to Catholic private school with discount tuitions.
For 3 years long they called me names because I was not 100% Indonesian. For 3 years long I was mocked because I was not a Muslim. The religion teacher even tried to convert me to follow their religion.
After I graduated High School, I went to study at a private college just because the public college would not give a fair chance to us, Chinese descendents. The private college was very expensive. I had to find several different kind of part-time jobs and tried hard to keep my score high enough to be able to apply for a scholarship. I did it all with my strength. I faced all the mocking with my own ways. Hatred grew in my heart toward those nationals and even the country. I hated to live there. I hated the people. I hated being in the family where I was born into.
That was when I was not with Jesus. That was when I was not in relationship with Him at all.
God never forgot us. My parents, my sisters and I came to know Christ and were baptized in 2002. We faced different persecution. My dad’s big family did not like us at all because we became “Christians” but were not Catholic anymore. Because Christians won’t pray before ancestors’ pictures and graves. My mom’s side of the family did not want to talk to us because we became Christians. Even my grandma kicked my mom out of the family.
But God never forgot us.
“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.” (Romans 12:14 NLT)
We prayed for them. For our families and friends. We asked God to give us grace and love in our hearts so we still can show His love to them. We prayed for God’s healing in our hearts. We asked God to heal our wounds and restore our relationships with them. We asked God for years.
Now, we reconnect with both sides of family. God put love for the unbelievers in our hearts to go reaching out to them and share His Good News with them. God opened doors for me and my family to serve through supporting the work of Bible Translation with Wycliffe Associates in Indonesia. We work side by side with the nationals to translate His words for those who persecute us. Our desire is to see God bless them with His truth and love when they read His word in languages they understand well in their hearts.
Last summer, we took our daughters to Indonesia and they got to meet the families and friends who were not Christians. They went with us to villages where they saw why these people need to know Jesus and that these people do not have Bible.
God changes hearts. God changes lives. At the end, so that His love, mercy, justice and glory will be known among the people in Indonesia.
Through all the forms of persecutions the brothers and sisters in Indonesia now are facing, God’s Kingdom will be known and every knee will bow down and every tongue will worship Him at the end.
“The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” (Galatians 1:23b NLT)
This is my hope and prayer for the unbelieving people of Indonesia – that one day they will be the ones who are sent out to the nations to preach the Gospel, the message they once tried to destroy.
Please join me in prayer for the brothers and sisters in Indonesia to have courage to continue to preach the Gospel and God will prepare every heart of the unbelievers to receive the Word of God that will change their lives forever.