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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Holy Spirit works incredibly amongst the Iranian refugees

Trying to get back to Bali from Australia proved a bit of an ordeal, and we ended up going via Jakarta. There was method in our madness however as we have some Iranian Christian friends there. This couple have an extraordinary ministry amongst the large Iranian and Afghan refugee community (they speak a common language) and are supported by an equally extraordinary Indonesian church.

With so much media attention focused on the illegals coming from Indonesia it was just wonderful to get the other side of the story... and it may be a little different than you might expect.

Mohamed is an Iranian who came to Christ in Iran and fled because of the persecution. He was jailed and beaten twice and when let out on bail the second time with his house as security he took his family and fled. The story of his conversion and flight from Iran would make a great motion picture.

They ended up in Jakarta and applied to the UNHCR for refugee status and after a grueling investigation were granted refugee status. They applied to Australia because since their time in Indonesia they had made many Australian friends, however even though classified as bona fide refugees Australia rejected them. When I asked Mohamed what he thought about the situation, this is essentially what he said...

"If I had the opportunity to speak to the Australian government I would congratulate them for turning back the boats. The reasons are that many of my people die, but also because most of my people here have actually been on the boats, and all of them are back in Indonesia for the same reason. When the boats get about 2 or 3 hours out to sea the captain tells them there is a problem with the boat and they have to return. When they get back there is no refund, so all of them have lost their money and have little or nothing more. What can they do? Since starting our ministry here we have always encouraged our people to do it the right way, and go through the UNHCR. But when we do what is legal, gain our refugee status, the Australian government rejects us. For this reason I think the Australian government needs to come and tell us why."

I spent an evening at their Bible study and was invited to speak. After my talk I was asked to answer some questions. I was amazed at some of their queries, and that they are so similar to the types of questions asked in the west. For example... 'why did God kill all of the children in Sodom and Gomorrah and not spare them'... and  'if Jacob gained his inheritance by deceiving his father, doesn't that mean that ultimately Christianity is a lie?' Great (moral) questions, but what surprised me even more was this. I always try to see where the question is coming from so when I queried them a common answer was 'one of their friends (Iranian) that they were evgelizng had asked them, so they wanted the answers to give them!

It is an incredible ministry under extremely trying circumstances. But as Mohamed says, 'even though my visa has been rejected, I know God wants to keep me here longer'.

I am constantly humbled by the faith and commitment of the people I meet in this country, especially the Balinese and now the Iranians. May God help them... and we have our part (James 2:18).



We have been truly blessed by a number of people who have visited us recently. We had three fantastic young Indonesian people, all from Kadek’s denomination who are currently studying at Bible college, who stayed with us and were a fantastic influence on the kids.

Hope Valley Church sent a team who toiled away and built us a water treatment tank so we can use our ‘grey water’ on our veggie gardens. While the kids seem a little perplexed by these strange ‘bules’ slaving in the hot sun, they will eventually come to understand the benefit and hard work these wonderful folks put in.

And we had an extended visit from our honorary ‘big kid’ Ben Owens who stayed several days during his holiday period. Ben was a real blessing in many ways, and connected so well with the kids while teaching English, taking devotions and playing all sorts of games. The kids just love him. (Sorry Ben, no pics... I lost all my photo's when I lost my computer at Jakarta airport).

Home Church Discipleship

Being responsible for about 45 home churches around Bali, Kadek has found discipleship to be a major challenge. However we have been very fortunate to meet a Pastor from America, Rev. Andrew Matthews who has written a 52 week discipleship course which is exactly what we needed in terms of theology, structure and format. The only problem is it is in English but praise God Andrew was prepared to arrange to have it translated into Indonesian.

Being unable to wait Kadek and I translated the first 10 lessons so we could start the training with a group from home churches in North Bali. The plan is for us to teach the first ten lessons and in the process train the home church leaders so they can continue with the rest of the course.

I believe that a combination of a work of the Holy Spirit, an amazing heart to reach their own as well as the discipleship course is equipping some of these new believers to 'make a difference'. Just last week 13 new believers were baptised, some who had been 'won' by a young man named Putu, himself a new believer of less than 12 months. One of the people baptised was a leader in his village and we are quite concerned for him as he will undoubtedly come under considerable pressure to leave his community.

Again and again we see people making a commitment to Christ that is hard for us to even contemplate. And people don't believe in the power of the Gospel?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Trip to Sumba

Kadek and I flew to Tambaloka on Sumba island then caught a couple of ‘ojeks’ (motorbike taxi’s) to Bila Cenge. First we met with Rina and Irna’s relatives and bedded down for the night. Thankfully they had just built a new house which actually had a bed (no mattress), however it sure felt better than sleeping on a bamboo floor in one of the older cottages with pigs directly underneath.

The next day we were able to meet with the village elders, and to say it was a revelation was an understatement. The first thing that was obvious was that most of the adults in the village are addicted to a mild narcotic based on ‘beetle nuts’. They chew these in combination with a clove like stick and another substance they told us was chalk dust?? Many of them carry around a small belt pouch where they store their ‘goodies’. Besides being constantly‘sedated’ their teeth are coal black and their mouths red as lipstick from constantly chewing this stuff.

But what surprised me most was their answer as to why they were were sending their kids so far away from home. The first reason was the corruption, lack of quality and distance from the village to the schools. But the main reason was they wanted to get their children out of the culture of dependence that most of the villagers suffered, so the kids had a chance to grow up away from their influence! Of course there aren’t any facilities or resources that deal with drug dependence, and in fact the people don’t even know there is a way to get off it. A tragic situation, but we were able to explain to the people that sadly they could not send more kids without our approval. However the only real longer term solution is to start a children’s home ministry in Sumba.

More Unexpected Arivals!

Agus and Lorensius
Much to our surprise (and concern), two more little boys from Sumba island arrive on our doorstep. It is a very difficult situation for us because we are struggling to support the number of kids we have now, but what can we do? They were from Bila Cenge, the same village as Rina and Erna (see post 20th August 2013). We had little choice but to take them in, but we also made the decision that Kadek and I would have to go to Sumba and talk with the village elders and parents to tell them they couldn't just send kids to us without talking to us first. But they are delightful little fella’s and we know they now have a chance at a better life. *See also the later post on our ‘Trip to Sumba’ which sheds some light on why the people are sending their kids.

In the photo Lorens and Agus are learning Bahasa Indonesia so they can start attending school as they can only speak their local Sumbanese language.

Kingdom Kids Home has moved

Prior to heading back to Australia in March, and having to squeeze 17 children plus Kadek and Yohana, a pregnant lady and a short term helper from Bible college into a five room house, and 3 rooms in a Kos, we decided that our current arrangement was entirely inadequate. So the hunt was on for a place with more suitable accommodation because the lease on our current premises was due to expire in May.

10 rooms!

By the time we returned to Bali Kadek and Yohana found a new place which accommodated our needs. It needed a little TLC so we set to work and spruced it up, and moved in the second week of April.
It’s a very good location, not far from our previous place, so it means we don’t have to go through the ‘red tape’, hassle and expense of changing the kid’s schools. Praise God!
Bottom line… everybody is happy!

The kitchen area... grotty but has potential

Our new Kingdom Kids Home has 10 rooms (albeit rather small), a big kitchen area, 3 bathroom/toilets and quite a bit of land so that once we clear it we will be able to use it to grow some veggies and have an area the kids can play in.

...down the back