Elis is a gifted evangelist and a woman of prayer. She and her ministry partner, Sari Saat, have seen the Lord bring many Muslims to faith in Jesus Christ.
My name is Elis. I come from a Muslim family. My father is Sasak and my mother is Betawi – from Jakarta. In my family are no Christians.
The Influence of One Weak Man
I owe my salvation due to the influence of a man whom I met on public transportation. This man – Mr. Rumbu – was 65 years old and looked so sick that I thought that he was going to the hospital. I was 30 years old at the time. Since I felt bad for him I gave him my seat. He said, “Thank You, child.” And I felt something different about this man – he seemed very kind. He asked, “Where are you going.” I replied, “My father has just died and my mother is trying to support us. I just got home from work – working dawn to dusk, and I am now going home.” Then he said this: “If you have life, you have to have a purpose – so don’t waste your time because you have to count your days.” When the man left the angkot [a cheap method of public transportation], the man handed me his ID card – showing his name. He said, “I have an agency for a newspaper. I can help you – I cannot pay you much, but I can pay you some.”
The Lasting Effects of this “Chance” Encounter
I had a dream that I wanted to open an orphanage. I wanted to do this in order to get close to Alloah [Allah, pronounced in the “Muslim” way]. For a long time I never met this man again. Then, one day, I remembered the sentence that he spoke to me, “Don’t waste your life – life must have a purpose…count your days.” I found the address of the man. But when I got to the house, the house was very ugly and plain. I walked in front of the house, searching for a long time because I could not believe that this man would live in such an ugly house. He spoke so intelligently and yet he lives here? A neighbor, however, told me, “Yes, this is his house.”
Haram – Unclean
When I wanted to come in, I entered the house and I saw a Cross on the wall. “Oh, this man is Christian.” And so I did not go into this house because it was haram – unclean for me to enter. I stepped my left foot inside the house first, and also when I sat in his chair I sat on the very edge of the seat – because a Christian’s house is unclean. The man said to a small boy who helped him, “Ari – please clean this chair. This lady does not want to sit in a dirty chair.” The man began to speak about his life and a little about how Jesus had helped him. I was attracted to this story and wanted to learn more. Yet, when he gave me a glass of water I did not want to drink it. The man kept referring to heaven from Injil Matius 6. I did not understand, but I was attracted to this story…but I still did not want to drink his water. I heard about the kingdom of heaven and his truth and I enjoyed this. So the man said to the boy helper again, “Ari – maybe she does not want to drink from this glass…bring her mineral water from the factory – in a bottle.” As I listened to the story about the kingdom of heaven, I began to sit back and relax and drank and listened. In the afternoon, I parted but before I went he again mentioned the newspaper job.
Work at Mr. Rumbu’s Newspaper Agency
After two weeks, I did not meet the man, but I cannot forget what he said about counting my days and about this kingdom of God which I heard about. I wanted to know more about the truth of God and his kingdom – so I decided to work for this newspaper agency. This man also knew a lot about the Qur’an. He even took the Qur’an and from it told me of Jesus. “Oh, this man used to be a Muslim – I want to make him a Muslim again,” I thought. So I tried to persuade him. But he said to me, “I have a stepson who is an Ustad (a Muslim leader) and even he is not as fanatical as you. Fanatic Muslims are stupid.”
Elis Meets Sari
It was at this point that Mr. Rumbu introduced me to Sari. Sari took me to a class called, “Islamology.” There, I learned about the Qur’an. At this school we read every single Surat of the Qur’an. I found out what the Qur’an really said. I still thought, however, “Every religion might be good…but to be a Christian – this is bad.” I ended up, however, attending a big outdoor [Christian] fellowship. I felt bad for Sari because she would have had to go alone. So I went to the crusade with Sari to accompany her. I heard a song there, “Kasih Dari Surga” (Love from Heaven). I was moved. I felt that Christ touched me and took away my burden. I was overcome and became weak. I fell down from weakness. I knew that God had called me.
Elis Discovers the Bible
From that day, I knew that God lived and I knew about Jesus, but I did not go to church. [Also] I did not know what the Bible was. I thought it was a story book. When I watched Mr. Rumbu, he always read the Bible and wrote things down on a piece of paper. I thought, “This is weird, to write stories down on a piece of paper.” One day, after he read the Bible, he dropped a piece of paper on the floor. When I mopped his floor to help him I read this verse, John 14:6, I took it to him and I said, what is this, is this a story? I thought maybe it was a title of a story. If you don’t know me you won’t be able to get to the Father. What did this mean? He told me about the Way of Life. I was attracted to it and I told him, “I want to learn more –but I don’t want to become a Christian.”
Elis Attends Church
Mr. Rumbu was a sick man and had diabetes. So, I felt bad for him and I took him to church. But I waited outside for Mr. Rumbu. That Sunday, the man speaking spoke about this very same verse, John 14:6. Mr. Rumbu begged to me, “You don’t have to sing or pray – just come and listen to what he is saying.” And so I came in and listened. After hearing it I knew that God was near and touched my heart. I wanted now to become a Christian. That night I came home and told no one where I went to that day. When my parents went to bed I went upstairs and I prayed. When I prayed, however, I prayed as a Christian – not in ritual but in the Christian way. [Later] I said to Sari, “I want to go to church – but what about my family – they are Muslim?” Sari told me, “Tell them, ‘I want to meet my friend.’” I said, “But the Christian faith says that we should not lie.” “Ah,” Sari replied, “But we are friends and you are coming with me.” So Siti and I were close friends and we went to church often together.
Elis’ Faith Discovered – Endures many Trials
For nine months I believed in Jesus, but my family did not know yet. Then I was invited to Mr. Rumbu’s birthday party. The party was in the early morning, so I went the night before in order to help this man set up his house for the party. When I left however I forgot to clean up my room. My Bible was discovered! My mother asked me, “Are you a Christian?” And I said “No.” But my mother tore my Bible and threw it in my face. She said, “Your father has died already and if you murtad (convert) your dead father will be tortured in the after life because of you!” From that day, I could not go outside because my family wanted to keep me from the church. But through the telephone my friends encouraged me.
When I was washing clothes my friend called. My sister answered it. After the call, my sister was very mad and she went to the clothes bin and took the wet clothes and beat me with them. From that time, I could not go out, nor pick up the telephone, nor eat or drink! My family would not let me even eat and drink and would not even give me food or water until I became Muslim again. If I did not return to their faith, I could not eat, drink, go out – and I was no longer a part of their family. I no longer talked with Mr. Rumbu or Sari.
Help from Mr. Rumbu
But one day a newspaper arrived from Mr. Rumbu’s. The worker that was sent found out my condition and how bad it was and inside of this newspaper was money from Mr. Rumbu. The newspaper comes very early. So I began to wake up very early in order to pick up this newspaper at my door and take the money inside. With this I bought food that came to my door [a usual custom]. A little girl that helped around the house relayed messages to Mr. Rumbu. For a week this continued. Then, my family found out and were very mad, “Were did you get the money!” They found the food that I bought and they stepped on it and smashed it. Now, I was also locked inside of my room. When I was locked in my room I prayed to God, “Jesus, I know that you live. Even though I do not eat or drink, you will give me power to live.” My mother made a connection with my uncle – a soldier. I did not know any of this. A big party was made. Strangely I was invited. My condition was very weak. I had to wash all the dishes from the party and yet could not eat or drink anything.
An Unexpected Mercy
Then, strangely, my sister gave me a small amount of money [about 30 cents] and told me, “Erni you must go away right now and tell no one where you go…I cannot see you being tortured anymore…you must go now.” So, after being so weak, I took the money after this party and fled. From another city, I connected with Mr. Rumbu…and also my sister. My sister warned me again to keep away or else my parents would chain me up with chains in my room and kill me. My family wanted me to die and had even made plans to kill me after this party! Mr. Rumbu then was terrorized by my uncle – the soldier – and he said, “I want her back dead or alive.” This man went to the courts and accused Mr. Rumbu – “Elis is a Christian because of him.” Mr. Rumbu called me where I was staying. “You are in danger – go to Kantimoni. There Sari will pick you up.”
Elis’ Mother has a Stroke
I lived there for three months. Then my mother had a stroke. Because of the stroke, my sister and brother found me. When I was found out, my uncle terrorized my other relatives too. But, my sisters said, “Bring back Elis if our mother wants to be healed.” There is a connection between mother and daughter. I could not leave my mother without help – so I risked it all and went back to her house to help her. Even despite not being able to eat or drink except by secret I stayed with my mother and helped my mother. I was watched at all times and could not even eat or drink while I was helping my mother. One day, while I was feeding my mother, she began to vomit in bed while I fed her. I had been a month in that house and had hardly eaten at all or drank. So when my mother vomited, I knelt on the floor and prayed, “God bless this food and use it to nourish my body and give me energy.” And I knelt to eat off this plate. My sister saw all of this and kicked the plate into my face. My sister then pulled my hair and tortured me – there in front of my mother. “Do you want to eat this? Then eat it!” my sister said. The plate was on the floor and she pushed my face into the plate to make me eat the vomit. At this time, my mother, seeing all this, had a stroke for the second time.
My mother was very bad and was getting worse. So I went to the hospital to help her. Blood was coming from her ears, eyes, nose and mouth. I prayed over mother and spoke into her ear, “Maybe you think that I have done wrong by following Christ, but for me it is not a wrong thing. I have to follow Christ – my God – in whom I trust.” I sat by her bedside and helped my mother and pumped a machine for her heart since it was used by manual means. My sister grabbed me by the back of the hair and pulled me backwards and the machine I was pumping slipped. After this, I was not allowed in the hospital anymore. [Later] At home, I was praying to God, “God please save my mom. If you want her to die – please take her, but please I want my mother safe…to know you before she dies.” At this same time, in the hospital, my mother woke up and was able to talk again. She told my relatives, “Call Elis…I want to talk to Elis.” So, I was able to arrive in her room and pray with my mother. I prayed with my mother in a whisper while my sister and brother were there. They began to mock me. My mother struggled to speak, and made an attempt to speak something after this prayer in response. She was too weak [however] and she died. When she died, I was kicked out from my family.
In 1997, while Sari and I lived in Banjamasin with Pak Nando and Lilis, I received a call about Amir, my little brother. Amir is disabled. His brain is slow and he has Down’s Syndrome. He was sick and they called me to request that I come home and take care of him. So, I went home to take care of him. From that day, our relationship has become a little better. Yet, even though my family had rejected me for so long, I knew that I had a family everywhere. God has helped me. I lost one family, but God gave me another family. In Banjamasin and many other places I have many families who love me and take care of me, and so I can do nothing but thank God.
Note: For security reasons a pen name is used for this missionary.