You guys, we love our church.
The truth is that often going to church is one of the more stressful aspects of life for people working overseas. The culture is different, styles of worship are different, it's hard to understand, it's uncomfortable, you miss your community back in the USA, and sometimes the local church feels dead. Knowing this, we are extra thankful that we landed in this church. It is vibrant, with a Papuan leader who is humble and passionate about the Lord and serving the community. It is filled with representatives of many people groups from across Indonesia and Papua. They are active in church planting and sending local missionaries. They are actively discipling students from our school. They have one of the most active youth groups in our denomination. They have opened up a preschool (where Elly attends) in order to serve and reach out into the community. We love this community.
I gotta tell you, sometimes the American church loves the hero missionary stories and I hesitate to share storeis of our local leaders because it perhaps make our service here look less important because there are Indonesian leaders. That's falsehood, perpetuating an unhealthy stereotype at the expense of a vibrant picture of the diverse body of Christ around the world. Guys, it is to the glory of God that His church is growing around the world, and it is our work to continue to equip leaders like the ones in our church. Because we are partnered with this local church, we are encouraged by the body of Christ around us when we are sliding into discouragement. Because we see local leaders right here leading with vibrant faith, we are reminded that we are not doing this alone. We are partnered, we are in this together with local leaders. We are together the body of Christ. Also, our kids have some stability where they are a relatively normal and accepted part of the church community instead of feeling super foreign all the time.
Below: Kids at the church's Easter kids camp/lock-in.
Below: part of a medical trip that our denomination sent to the south coast when there was a spate of over 100 children that died from an outbreak of measles with malnutrition. Our pastor went and came back so burdened for people to go and serve in the area. Between his passion, our ongoing prayers for the area, and the fact that a vibrant group of 6 freshmen students from the south coast are nearly all attending and serving at our church, it seems God is at work.
Below: Me and the kids at the Easter program at the preschool that our church opened on the church grounds. Elly attend there and we love it. Kids from church families attend, but many from the community, including non-Christians, also attend and are receiving great teaching.
Below: Sunday school at one of three church plants our church is opening. The lady in the back whose face is obscured helped start our church by opening her home for a community home Bible study 20 years ago. Now we are a thriving congregation and she and others are planting this church in a newly developing area as roads are opened west of our area of town.
A baptism ceremony at a second church plant, which is across the island and takes a plane and boat trip to get to. How bout that scenery though?
Guys, will you pray for our church and the leaders there, the students that are interning there, and the kids in the community that are being brought up under the church's teaching?