Friday, July 06, 2012

Praying for Indonesia: A 365 Day Global Prayer Journey - July 6

Indonesia is an amazing country, filled with amazing people. There is a spiritual conflict, though, that is real and rages over this land. Today and tomorrow we focus our prayers on the general "Challenges for prayer". Please read pages 449-453.

As you saw, the needs are great. There are so many directions our prayer could go today. My heart today for our prayer time, though, is to pray for the workers in Indonesia. The country is truly a different world for many who are serving there. Even the Indonesian believers who go within their own country can find the differences on other islands as profound as being in a different country. For this reason, I'm sharing below some insights from a friend who is serving there. These were written years ago during her early months of service. I hope you learn a little more about how to pray for any missionaries through her words, but today let's focus on the missionaries serving in Indonesia.

With so much need around us, why do we feel the need to come and spend our first year learning? Why not just get in there and start doing things? Here is a story the local leader told us (and he had more) of people trying to help before they stopped to really understand the problem.
Most folks in the slums use gas burning stovetops (like a camping stove) for cooking. A few years ago the government required everyone to switch from kerosene (which most of the poor used) to propane, which would also require the use a different stove. Through the generosity of kind people as well as some government help, over one thousand new propane stoves (along with a bottle of propane), worth about 20 dollars each, were distributed to poor families. This was a few months before the switch over and, as many of the families either didn’t understand that kerosene would not longer be available or because they had more pressing needs (like the need to go to the hospital) they sold the new stove to some middle class person who offered to pay them 5 dollars for it. A few months passed, the switch over happens and they now have no way to cook for themselves and must buy their own stove back (the one they sold for 5 dollars) but now the price is 20 dollars. Supply and
demand. Somehow a gift meant to help the poor has served to make the rich richer and keep the poor in their poverty. We will certainly make mistakes along our journey but we hope to learn from the mistakes of the past, learn from the people who live there, who have a better understand of what the real issues are, what the strengths of the community are, and how we can work together to be a part of Kingdom come in this place.

Options, or the lack thereofWhen most people think about poverty they think simply about people who don’t have money. This is certainly true but as I have come to understand poverty more in the past few years I understand it to be much bigger than just a lack of possessions. Poverty, among other things, also means a lack of options. I have moved into this neighborhood because I choose to do so, because I believe it is where God is leading me, because I know God associates himself with the poor and I want to follow his example and bring good news to the poor. But the great majority of my neighbors do not live here because they choose to;they live here because they have no other choices. This idea struck me particularly hard a few nights after I moved in. My new home has no running water and so I ,
along with the rest of my neighbors, use the public restrooms about a 2 minute walk from my home. Before moving in I asked the very important questions: What time do you open? (5 am) and what time do you close? (10 pm). Between those hours, you are out of luck. One night, about 9:40 pm I headed to the bathroom and as I turned the corner the women gathered at the local gathering spot said “Closed” I looked and to my (dare I say) horror, the door to the bathrooms was indeed locked
up. I had been misinformed. The bathrooms close at 9pm not 10. As I stared at the closed door, trying to figure out what I was going to do now. (There was NO WAY I could hold it till 5 am) I started thinking, “Well maybe I could call my teammates who live about 5 minutes away and use their bathroom” The women sitting there said “What are you going to do now?” I asked “What do you do?” (Surely I can not be the first person to encounter such a problem). They pointed me in the direction of a gutter, an idea I was none too excited about. Then they said the bathroom guard was nearby eating dinner. I said I didn’t want to bother him, he had worked all day and deserved a rest. But I guess we were talking loud enough that he could hear us anyway and graciously came out to open up the bathroom especially for me. Thankfully, that night, I was given some options.

Honestly, I will always have more options than my neighbors. If I get sick I can go to the international hospital rather than the government subsidized health post. If my shoes break, I can afford to buy new ones. But as we live here we want to associate as much with our neighbors as we can. Please remember our team as we learn to live smaller lives, willingly letting go of some of our options as we follow the example of the one who left heaven to live among us and subject himself to human limitations.

My prayer for today: Oh Lord God, Lord of the harvest, today we come before You to ask prayer for the laborers You have sent to the harvest in Indonesia ... the laborers from all over the world, from the west, from the global south, from Indonesia itself. Lord, You have blessed the work of missions in Indonesia in SO many ways. Lord, we thank You for what You have done and pray it will be an encouragement to those serving there. We pray for servants to learn Indonesian well and quickly, and have many opportunities to show Your love while practicing language skills. Lord, we pray for workers to be solidly grounded in Your Word, to recognize spiritual warfare when it happens, to have strong discernment. Help them develop deep relationships and truly love the people of Indonesia. Bring unity among teams and churches. Lord, we pray for strong relationships with senders and family back home. Protect the team members from extremes of loneliness and homesickness. Help them truly engage and connect in deep ways with the culture You've sent them to. Guide them to have wisdom when to take little or longer breaks, and give them creative and fun things to do to sustain their service for the long haul. Lord, love the missionaries. Remind them of Your presence when they need it most. Be glorified through them to Indonesia. In Jesus' name, amen.

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