Pastor Yudianto comforted Aanjay, the young daughter of members of his newest church plant in Indonesia with these words, as he crouched down beside the crying child in her home.
Aanjay’s family was hosting the first gathering of about 30 believers — new Christians whom Yudianto had previously evangelized and had been discipling individually or in couples for the past few months. The time was now ripe to draw them all together for corporate worship and discuss establishing a church in the village. Yudianto had even obtained permission from the local authorities to hold such a meeting in a home…but toward the end of the meeting, the Christians became suddenly outnumbered by a crowd of militant Muslims who surrounded the home and burst into it.
The Muslims demanded that the Christians disperse and never meet there again. To underscore their demands, they brandished machetes and used cameras to record who was at the meeting for future identification and intimidation. Young Aanjay understandably was shaken by the intruders’ outburst and threat of violence against the Christians; she collapsed and wept.
Yudianto consoled her with the same words Jesus used to encourage his disciples in the hours just prior to facing his greatest betrayal, abandonment, and torture (John 16:35) — he did not discount the reality or brutality of the threats but explained that whatever evil exists in the world Jesus is greater than it and has overcome it, and therefore no hardship has the power to separate us from Jesus’ love (Romans 8:31-39).
It’s not the first time Yudianto had to soberly reflect on such Scripture passages. This incident came on the heels of an on-going training conference for the FMI-supported church planters on the island of Java. One evening, we explored the implications of the final paragraphs of Romans 8, where followers of Christ are described both as sheep led to slaughter and as people who are more than conquerors. We woke the next morning to the news of a suicide bomber attempting to breach a nearby police station, and we spent our final moments together discussing the very practical realities of being followers of Christ and leaders of his people in Indonesia.
Aanjay’s family has not been deterred from meeting with the other Christians in their village, and Yudianto plans to continue his work to establish the church there. Continue to intercede for them as their congregation is being forged in fire.
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