Christmas season has always been an exciting time for our Indonesian brothers and sisters who came from the Muslim background (MBBs). Dozens of MBBs discipled by our local partners in one of the islands usually gather together to celebrate Christmas yearly. But this year’s celebration is quite different. It’s more exciting for them because they’re celebrating Christmas in a new location- the place for which they had been praying for the past ten years! This was God’s miracle and wonderful Christmas gift for them!
Erka* got up early in the morning, ecstatic. This was the day he had been looking forward to for a long time. He told his wife and their four-year-old son to get ready right away because they had a long distance to travel. While he was getting ready, he was smiling from ear to ear. Why? Because this is the day when they get to see God’s answer to their prayers. He together with other MBBs have been praying for this miracle for the past ten years.
Erka, his wife, and son rode on his old motorcycle after everything was ready and they were dressed to the nines. They traveled for 50 kilometers carefully because the road from their village to the main road was still rough and unpaved. He could only hope that this time there would be enough petrol in the tank to get them to their destination. They have experienced previously having to frequently stop at the middle of the road, due to their tank running out of petrol. This was during those normal days when they go out for ministry doing discipleship among the MBBs.
When the tires of his motorcycle hit the lawn of his discipleship mentor's house, he exhaled a sigh of relief. And when he saw tens of other MBBs already waiting, his heart was filled with joy. Some of them he hasn’t seen in a long time. He couldn't contain his excitement seeing other house church leaders who came from different places, so he greeted them right away and even gave some of them a hug.
After the joyous little reunion, they walked together to the back of their mentor's house where they would be spending Christmas together this year. Erka came to a halt, moved by what he saw in front of him. He never imagined this day would come.
"We wished for a more spacious place of worship where we could gather and do discipleship. During the past Christmas gatherings, we would huddle together with the students in a very small space because our mentor's house is not big enough to accommodate everyone. And year by year, there are increasingly more students who come. So, for the past ten years, we had been praying to God for a larger space for us to gather. A few months ago, a ministry agency offered to buy us a land and construct a building. And, by some miracle, the owner of the land behind our mentor's house sold his. Everything went so smoothly. And, lo and behold, the building for which we prayed has finally been completed! It's far from perfect, but it's good enough for us," Erka shared while holding back his tears.
Agung* and Sarah* have never stopped thanking God for the miracles they received this year. Since 2008, they have served hundreds of MBBs and discipled them, witnessing God's great faithfulness to them. The difficulties they encounter are not trivial; they frequently face arrest or death threats, but they constantly witness God's protection. While there had a lack of resources available to meet their needs, but God always meets them on time and without fail.
One more miracle that God performed for them this year was the establishment of a brand-new place for disciples to gather and worship. "The fact that we can celebrate this year in a more spacious place than in previous years is really unexpected. This is a true miracle and a Christmas gift from God. He is steadfast in upholding this ministry, and He has showered us with many blessings," Sarah shared in front of the MBBs.
The MBBs who attended this Christmas service were filled with emotion and joy. They sang Christmas carols together, even though some of them were unfamiliar with the songs, and they enjoyed them by clapping their hands. This Christmas service is augmented by a candlelight session that reminds them of the light that has come into the world. "We have been saved by Lord Jesus, who was born into the world and became the Light. We should not just sit by and do nothing, but we are called to disciple and to tell others about the salvation we have received, so that our family and friends can also be saved," Agung said in his sermon.
This Christmas celebration concluded with distribution of gifts consisting of grocery items to all those who attended. Agung and Sarah are grateful for Open Door’s involvement in their discipleship process since 2018. "Our discipleship has multiplied since we used 12 discipleship books from Open Doors because the material is easy to understand and can also be done by the house church leaders whom we’ve been training," Agung said. Thank you, Open Doors for your consistent support of the MBBs' discipleship here. Also, thank you for providing the MBBs with the yearly gift of groceries for Christmas. This is extremely beneficial to them because the majority of them only work as farm laborers."
*Names changed for security reasons
1. Praise God for His faithfulness and provision for Agung* and Sarah*, as well as all the MBBs they disciple. He who, in His miraculous way, has called them to be His children. All praise and glory to God alone!
2. Please pray that our local partners will continue to serve and support their ministry. It takes 7 hours (by car/train) to visit Agung and Sarah and strengthen them in person. However, their encounters are always filled with joy and stories of God's miraculous deeds for this MBBs group, and because of that our local partners are always eager to visit both.
3. Pray for the MBBs being discipled so they will continue to follow Jesus and deepen their knowledge of and love for Him in spite of the numerous difficulties they frequently encounter.
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