Over the Past year we’ve heard a great deal about the suffering of the Indonesian people after the terrible tsunami tragedy last Christmas. But there is more to the story—and it’s good news!
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. But did you know that the Christian Reformed Church has had a presence in Indonesia for more than 36 years through the Back to God Hour? Since its first Indonesian-language broadcast in 1969, this ministry has flourished. What started as one radio program has grown into five evangelistic and faith-building broadcasts on more than 65 radio stations in Indonesia, plus satellite broadcasts reaching people in Southeast Asia and northern Australia.
Some political leaders and Islamic hardliners oppose the Christian influence. “At one time, people who converted to Christianity would have been run out or killed,” notes Rev. Untung Ongkowidjaja, the Back to God Hour’s Indonesian-language ministry leader.
But disaster relief efforts in the wake of the tsunami have resulted in a significant shift in the opinions of Indonesian people.
The Church Stood Up
“In response to the crisis situation, the Indonesian church has stood up as a critical and moral voice,” reports Rev. Albertus Patty, a pastor in the Indonesian Christian Church and member of the Back to God Hour’s Indonesian advisory committee.
As people increasingly hear the voice of the Indonesian church, opportunities arise to introduce them, particularly the younger generation, to Jesus Christ.
“Young people regard Christianity as modern and are open to [it],” Ongkowidjaja said. “The younger generation has the power to change this country.”
Through your support, the Back to God Hour is in a unique position to reach the youth of Indonesia. Hundreds of Bible study groups meet regularly to participate in correspondence courses produced by the Back to God Hour ministry team. Kiddy and Teens for Christ devotional booklets are distributed to young children and teenagers who are hungry for good news.
The BTGH updates its Indonesian website (www.ykb-wasiat.or.id) every day. Visitors to the site can contact a staff pastor by e-mail. Most of those who respond are young people.
Reaching a Tech-Savvy Generation
Sixty-two percent of the Indonesian population is under 30 years old—that’s nearly 100 million young people!
The BTGH’s Moving Bible Cellular Ministry appeals to a tech-savvy generation. Subscribers receive a Scripture verse on their cell phones every day. If they want an explanation of the verse, they can call a special local phone number to hear a recorded message. “This ministry can help young people—and others who are very busy—hear a daily reflection by phone when they are in their car or in the office,” Ongkowidjaja explains.
The radio programs Drama Kiddy and Guidelines for Living focus on the needs of children and young people. Last December, the Indonesian ministry team held a “Christmas with Kiddy” festival at two popular malls in Jakarta. The Drama Kiddy radio team, which also presents its program at local schools, attracted hundreds of youths. The team also handed out Kiddy devotional booklets to children.
A children’s television program is in the planning stage for 2006. Funding is still needed for production equipment and personnel.
So that’s the rest of the story—the good news from Indonesia. Young people there are hearing and responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are confident that God will use these youths to transform a country that is still digging out from the aftermath of a national tragedy.