Salim and his wife Riri are from one of the largest ethnic groups in Southeast Asia. They have more than a decade of experience working with various ministries throughout the region; as a result they’ve seen how weak the church is in many places. They have a burden that the church would be strengthened and grow into maturity, as well as others come to faith in Christ.
Before I was like most Christians in Indonesia. I was a Christian because my family was Christian; it was just a status and I rarely went to church and never read the Bible. I did not truly know the Lord. I thought that all religions were the same because all taught about living good in one’s life. Before when I experienced difficulty in my life, I felt that God didn’t care about me and He never answered my prayers. I often was jealous of others who were smarter than me, more successful, and more profitable. So, I often moved from one city to another, changing jobs to find success and profit through my efforts alone.
Finally, in the year 1998, I went to work at a school that taught the Indonesian language to foreigners. A big portion of the students there were missionaries. From the beginning I felt forced to work there, additionally it turned out that the missionaries didn’t only study normal Indonesian, but they also wanted to study Indonesian from the Bible. I then had to read the Bible a lot and understand what I was reading so that I could teach the students well. I also began going to Bible studies that were regularly led by other Indonesian tutors at the same place so that I could better understand. So, from the beginning I only wanted to study the Bible in order to be a better teacher, but finally I had to face the Bible’s content.
Since that time I began to repent. I was helped by an experienced tutor who also taught where I did. I confessed my sins and I was born again. God was faithful and still loved me even though I went far from Him. I realized that God had used other people and that He has many ways to bring people who’ve gone far from Him to realize their sins. I’m thankful that God still loves me and cares for me. God granted my prayers according to what was good for me, not according to what I wanted. It wasn’t just working at the language school that I needed, but God planned everything in my life. God has changed my life and made me understand what He wants for it.
For about five years, since 1998, I was a tutor in Indonesian at this language school in Banjarmasin. At the school, I studied the Bible a lot and also English. Before, I never had a plan or thought about spreading the gospel to others. Then in 2003 there were two of my students who offered a job for me to help them in their ministry. The first opened a new ministry using community development as a platform in Palembang. The second managed a new resort that he used as a platform and center for his ministry to various different ethnic groups in Indonesia. After praying for one year, finally in January 2004, the Lord answered that I must take the first option. The Lord answered my prayers in a way that’s difficult to explain and he had chosen the work for me that was best.
The new tasks of my ministry were to establish and manage a foundation that was to be used as a ministry platform. I had to learn and do a lot of new things, including obtaining government permission and preparing government paperwork for both the foundation and for foreigners who worked for the foundation. After one year working in this way from Banjarmasin, my family and I moved to Palembang.
In Palembang, through the foundation that was already established, we made a library for English books, a place for Indonesians to practice conversational English, and a water purification ministry as part of the foundation’s community development program. There, also, the foundation made a recording studio which from the beginning was supposed to be used to record Bible stories in the local language. Since there was no operator in the recording studio and for the sake of safety, I had to study Adobe Audition software to operate and manage the recording studio. Even though finally, the recording studio was never used and I felt that everything I had studied was in vain.
We moved from Palembang back to Banjarmasin in November 2008 after leaving the ministry of the foundation. In Banjarmasin, after one year, my wife and I began to help a ministry among the local people. We did this until the end of 2009 after which we received an invitation to work with Faith Comes by Hearing. Our task with this ministry was to record the New Testament in the many different local languages in Indonesia, therefore we now know a lot more about the different languages, cultures, condition, and especially about the daily life of Christians in Indonesia.
It turns out that what I studied before in Palembang was not in vain because when I began working for FCBH, I had to use the same software and I already knew about the basics of recording. The Lord had already organized and arranged my life and work long before I knew what would take place.
And now, while we are working with FCBH, my wife and I have established a social and religious foundation because we want to be involved in community development in neglected parts of Indonesia. We especially want to help those of the Christian faith develop skills, be more healthy, and most importantly understand how to live as followers of Jesus Christ. We also desire to reach those who do not yet believe that Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.
Note: For security reasons a pen name is used for this missionary.