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Friday, September 20, 2013

Remarkable Courage

This map of Indonesia shows the locations of schools (elementary, secondary and post-secondary) that have been established by The Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology, also called "SETIA," located in East Jakarta. The lines go out to schools in rural, under-developed areas of the country that have been "left behind." They are also areas of recruitment by radical Islamic groups.

Why would a seminary in Indonesia be planting elementary and secondary schools? Shouldn't they just be planting churches? What's going on here?

What's going on is the Gospel of the Kingdom at work in Indonesia. By "Gospel of the Kingdom," I don't mean the Gospel of Personal Salvation (although personal salvation is included), but the Gospel of Reconciliation, that Christ may have preeminence in all things--in heaven and on earth (please see Col. 1:16-20).

This calls for reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic, because "things on earth" include business things, civil things, agricultural things, artistic things and family things. Neighborhood things. Educational things. Legal things. This is the wholistic Gospel, that not only provides blessed hope for eternity, but blessed hope for the here-and-now.

This vision has come at a high price for the Arastamer School of Theology. It is a price most Americans can barely conceive, and it demands remarkable courage. 

Such as the time when Dr. Matheus Mangentang, Director of the School of Theology, received word direcctly from the leader of one of the most radical Islamic groups in Indonesia that he was going to kill Matheus. What did Matheus do? He invited this radical leader to meet him for dinner. (What would I have done? I would have called the FBI and installed a serious alarm system around my house!) 

Matheus met his adversary face to face. When they got together, the radical Muslim leader wanted to know why Matheus was unafraid. This opened a deep conversation. When the Muslim leader saw that Matheus was working for the common good of Indonesia, the two men became friends. And they remain friends today.

But all has not been rosy for the seminary in Jakarta. In July of 2008, it was attacked by an angry mob, armed with metal clubs and machetes. As police evacuated students and staff, the attackers threw acid and slashed students with swords. The school was literally driven out of the city.

For a more complete account of this matter, and to find out what happened next, I urge you to view the stunning video contained in this link: http://www.memverse.com/stt_setia. If you think you have problems, take a look. More importantly, if you want to see grace in action, click the link.

With Matheus Mangentang and his wife, Ester, at the Business as Mission, Indonesian Economic Development Conference three weeks ago in Columbus, Ohio.

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