“Joe,” not his real name, thanked us for coming. He asked us to send people to work with him. He is lonely.
He expressed his happiness to have brothers in Christ visit the place where he had served for three years because churches will not help him deliver the Good News. “They are afraid,” he explained, before adding again the joy he felt “to have a friend in ministry.”
Joe and one other worker have seen 10 souls rescued from one of Indonesia’s many unreached people groups (UPGs). But none of the 10 has been baptized out of fear of retaliation from Muslim family and neighbors. He disciples the 10 by going to their villages disguised as a seller of clothes. But that cover is wearing thin.
This is a place where a family of Muslim background believers can be murdered and authorities will ignore the crime.
Such are the challenges of working in a stronghold of Islam.
The persecution and spiritual warfare on this particular island are intense, the director of the ministry Joe serves in told us later. It was affirmation of the sense of darkness we were feeling all around us during our survey visit.
“I took my family to visit (Joe),” our director friend said. “The first night, our second son couldn’t sleep. He senses spiritual things. I told him, ‘Why don’t we pray?’ We went into another room and we were singing and praying quietly.
“We turned one light on. In the corner, up near the ceiling, was something that looked like Spiderman coming down the wall. I could not see his face, but he was real.”
As real as hell.
Joe asked his earthly boss if he could move to the biggest city on the island instead of working in this darkened corner of paradise lost. “I told him, ‘Yes, but who will stand before God and say we left this (place)?’” Joe decided to stay.
My heart aches for those in the family of Christ who are doing as Jesus instructed all of His followers: GO and make disciples.
Day after day I reported in our Mission: Indonesia Dispatches about the dearth of laborers. The harvest sits there, waiting. But death does not wait; it encroaches, claiming victim after victim. Satan enjoys his victories, while the director of the ministry speaks about trying to engage the church in the vision of reaching these UPGs. “There has been little response,” he said.
He went to the cross for the sins of the world. The entire world. Not just those who help us fulfill the Great Commission by coming to us. The unfinished task (Matthew 24:14) requires our active faith. We have to GO!
We have an open invitation into several parts of Indonesia. Opportunities abound, which is why we will be expanding our ministry there.
“We open all the mountains to become yours,” the director said.
Not only are the mountain strongholds ours to invade with the light and truth of Jesus, but our lonely brothers and sisters are waiting for encouraging visitors.
“Sit with us,” the director said, nearly pleading. “Pray. Have some stories. Pat our shoulders.”