Our help comes from the Lord

I will lift up my eyes to the hills - from where will my help come? 
My help comes from the Lord.
Psalm 121:1, 2
     Indonesia is a Muslim majority culture. The proportions vary, but whether you are part of the 10 or 20% minority or almost half of the population, it means something extra to be a Christian in this country. 

     I traveled up into the Muria area, a mountainous region where Mennonite Christians originated in the 1850s, on my way to stay with a family for a week in the village of Sukodono. I was with Pak Jimmy and Pak Lilik, MCC national staff, and we visited Mennonite churches, schools and hospitals on the way. 

     Pak Lilik told me his parents were Muslim. His sister took him to Sunday school as a young child and he eventually became a Christian. Of his six siblings, only he and his sister are Christians. He said, in the end, his parents were able to honor his choice. 

     We met Jonathan Gravelle (above), a SALTer from British Columbia teaching English in several schools, including this vocational school for mostly girls. (There are some obvious benefits for Jonathan here.). In his town, Chuwana, he is the only westerner. These girls sometimes refer to him as Justin Bieber!

   We visited a number of churches, hospitals, churches and schools begun in the missionary era. Some are still thriving while others are not. We visited the GKMI church in Margorejo. The original church structure was burnt down by Muslims in the 1940s. 

     In Sukodono, one of my hosts, Yunarso Rusandono (Dono), took me for several long motorbike rides to visit more churches and meet with a pastors group. I talked to them about Christ's coming to break down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us (Eph. 2).

    In one church I visited, the church had given part of its land away so that the community could build a mosque. 

     Back in Sukodono, I was able to meet with the church deacons to talk about their witness in their community. Here, Christians are about 20% of the population but relationships between Christians and Muslims are strong. Church deacons talked about a program they participate in where they donate blood to people in need, regardless of their religion.

     Dono is intent on helping the teenagers of the church (Dono is with me in the second photo above) gain a strong Christian identity. He wants to be sure they get an education and have opportunities to talk about what it means to be Christians in their community and culture. 

      At the Sukodono church on Sunday morning, one of the Biblical texts is Psalm 121. God is our keeper, the Psalmist says, and watches over us. 

     In Muria, where Christians work hard to live in peace with Muslims, there is recognition that our help does, indeed, come from the Lord.






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