Dear HeartCry Friends and Co-laborers: I hope this edition of the magazine finds you experiencing more of Christ’s love and holy joy. It is my prayer that your joy and zeal for the Lord might grow as you read about what God is doing among the nations in order to exalt the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The stories that you read in this magazine, stories that we are privileged to write, are just a small part of that great narrative that our God is writing. As every word and chapter are an integral part of a book, so these stories – even though perhaps very “normal” in most people’s eyes – are integral to God’s purposes. These are not so much stories about heroes of the faith, for in God’s story, there is really only one Hero; rather, these are stories about ordinary men and women who have responded to God’s call and are seeking daily to be faithful to Him. They labor in faith, trusting that each day lived in consecration and faithfulness to the Lord will be used by Him to bring about the consummation of His kingdom, that great and awesome day when the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15).
In the jungles of Papua’s Mamberamo River basin, Yulianus Abarude continues a wide-
ranging ministry among his people, the Fuau. Yuli’s passion for his people to experience the blessings of Christ’s kingdom is unlike anyone I have ever met. Earlier this year, he was very concerned about many of the things he saw taking place among his people. There was jealousy and bickering over material possessions. In response, Yuli wrote a letter rebuking them for their love of worldly things and asking them to examine their hearts to see if they were truly believers. Although most of the Fuau have a Christian identity due to the activity of missionaries in the past, many (if not most) show no signs of the new birth. They syncretize the Christian faith with the animistic beliefs of their ancestors, which is evidence that the Word of God has still not brought about genuine transformation. In order to remedy this grievous reality, Yuli constantly travels up and down the Mamberamo River in order to preach. He is also working with one other Fuau to translate key Bible stories into their language as part of a project with the Seed Company. The hope for 2013 is that many of these Bible stories will be in the hands of the Fuau. How immature would all of us be apart from God’s Word? Pray that this most precious gift will be used of God to present His people mature in Christ.
Yuli not only preaches up and down the Mamberamo, but he also spends much of his time and many of his resources helping the younger generation. He is doing everything he can to ensure that the gospel is transferred to subsequent generations. Yuli sees that the youth are being lost. They are being swept away by “the competing voices of this world,” and his prayer is that “the Mamberamo people will hear no other voice besides the voice of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the voice of our Good Shepherd.” Yuli’s scholarship program is helping to educate Fuau youth who demonstrate potential to contribute to the development of their people. He is also supporting seven young men’s education in theological schools. All of these students must sign a “statement of promise” before receiving funds from the scholarship program. By signing this statement, they are promising to return to their people and invest their lives among them. In 2013, many of these youth will return to their respective villages. Please pray that God might use the knowledge and skills they have learned to bless their people. Pray that God might use those with theological education to shepherd the Fuau churches with Christ-like love and wisdom.
In the same country, hundreds of miles away, the church-planting team Persekutuan Kasih continues to work among folk Muslims. These are Muslims whose resistance to the gospel comes as much from their demon-inspired superstitions as from their Islamic identity. It can often be disheartening to work among this people, especially in the rural areas. They are suspicious of outsiders and doubly so when those outsiders are Christians. However, in spite of the obstacles, Christ has built His church among these rural, reclusive rice farmers. In 2012, Persekutuan Kasih’s leader, Pak Nando, and his wife moved to a village with the intention of ministering to a small group of immature believers. Although some of them had come to faith many years ago as a result of Pak Nando’s father’s evangelistic activity, they had never received consistent teaching and shepherding. This year, Pak Nando has seen much growth among these believers as they have studied the Scriptures and prayed together each week. The hope for 2013 is that God might use this little, but growing flock to spread His gospel throughout the surrounding villages. Pray that God might give the believers, especially Pak Nando and his wife, many opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that the people might be willing to listen.
In Japan, Luis Ramirez continues to faithfully labor among Japanese and Spanish speakers. His church, Vida Nueva (New Life), is an international church, but it has seen an increasing number of Japanese come to faith in Christ. This is very encouraging, especially considering that the Japanese are thought to be some of the least responsive people to the gospel in the entire world. In recent days, Luis has seen a number of people come to know the Lord and follow Him in believer’s baptism. The hope for 2013 is that Luis would continue to faithfully preach and teach God’s Word.
Please pray that his church will grow in maturity and that many more souls might be saved.
My family and I are ministering in a similar context as Persekutuan Kasih. For us, 2012 was filled with a lot of change, little sleep, some progress learning a new language and culture, and a greater awareness of God’s grace and faithfulness. In February, our third son was born, and it has taken us some time to adjust to this newest member of our household. Although sweet as can be and cute as a button, he does not seem to need a lot of sleep. This has been particularly draining on my wife. However, God has helped her in so many ways. He has answered so many of His saints’ prayers, and we seem well adjusted at this particular point in our journey. However, we realize that it is easy to be self-deceived, and we pray constantly that God might help us please Him in our thinking, emotions, attitude, and behavior.
The Lord has given me many opportunities to teach the Scriptures. These opportunities range from rural house churches and one-on-one discipleship meetings in Bahasa (the official language of Indonesia), to preaching in larger meetings in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta in English and other languages. As I have been studying “the Acts of the Apostles,” one thing that I have seen is that the growth of the Church is also considered the growth of God’s Word, and vice versa. In other words, the true expansion of God’s kingdom, the growth and maturity of Christ’s church, and the work of missions cannot happen if God’s Word is not central.
God has also given us new friendships with unbelievers and opportunities to share the good news. These opportunities often come as we go about our daily activities - speaking with the man who collects our trash as we drink tea together on our front porch, engaging a parking lot attendant after going to an ATM, or explaining the gospel to the driver of a public minibus. We are learning to take advantage of the time and opportunities that the Lord gives us to bear witness about His mighty acts. My hope for 2013 is to continue progressing in my ability to speak Bahasa so that I might better communicate God’s Word. Also, we hope to see many of our new friends come to know the Lord.