Before he retired, the head of a village in Indonesia spent a lot of time driving out people who had left Hinduism to become Christians.
To prohibit Christians from living in the village violated religious freedom laws in Indonesia, whose national motto is “Unity in Diversity,” and his own Hindu religion was practiced by only a small fraction of the country’s majority-Muslim population. But the village head, Gilang*, felt conversions to Christianity would only cause conflict in the predominantly Hindu area.
The director of a local ministry recalled how Gilang would come to evangelistic events to surveil suspicious activities and identify villagers at risk of abandoning Hinduism.
“He used to come many times, listening time and again to me talk about, ‘Who is Jesus? What is sin, and how can we make our sin gone?’” the ministry leader said.
Gilang had an uncle who had become Christian, but the headman would not expel his relative after seeing him singing and praying at Christian events. After Gilang retired, he accepted his uncle’s invitation to visit a service at a house church.
The ministry leader was visiting the village to deliver a message at the house church that day.
“Gilang was very touched when I spoke in his native language and delivered the truth of the Gospel and in the context of his local culture,” the ministry leader said. “I had a chance to meet with him later. He became a follower of Jesus and was baptized.”
Opportunity and Opposition
The head of another village who had the opportunity to hear the ministry leader speak did not wait to retire to put his faith in Christ – but he feels pressure to balance his enthusiasm for the Lord with discretion about being too public about his faith.
The headman had received a Bible and an audio Bible in his native language from the ministry leader before he asked for prayer and told the leader he believed that Jesus is God.
“He wants to be baptized, but he hesitates because he is also a big leader in the village,” the ministry leader said.
While the headman has weighed the potential effects on both him and the village of being publicly baptized, he has given the ministry leader the virtually unheard-of opportunity to speak about Christ at the Hindu temple. The ministry leader’s messages have been warmly received.
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SOURCE: Christian Aid Mission