After decades of ministry, the gospel takes root among least reached in Indonesia
by John Stuart
20 December 2016
Thirty years ago Ruslan graduated from Bible college and vowed a life of ministry among the Melayu people of West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Situated on the island of Borneo, the Melayu people there have little to no gospel presence. Ruslan,from a nearby island, married a woman from the neighboring Dayak people and together they have ministered among the Melayu ever since.
As with all ministries to the Melayu, progress has been slow. Spiritual, cultural and official opposition are all challenges for Christians there. But little by little, Ruslan has seen a handful of believers emerge among the Melayu, who are eager to learn and share their faith with their fellow Melayu.
SIM desires to see the ministries to Melayu people increase, as there are many living and dying without Christ. Hendri, an SIM partner missionary, has more than 30 years of ministry experience in Indonesia. He is the point person for SIM's new ministries in West Kalimantan. One challenge is that different people groups don't always associate freely there and prejudices can run deep, Hendri says.
"With hundreds of cultural backgrounds, Indonesia is not a melting pot, but rather a mosaic," Hendri says. "There are some very strong lines drawn by some people groups towards others. Some Melayu people see themselves as superior in comparison to Dayaks and there is an animosity towards Christians."
As much as possible, the ministry will encourage local believers, like the nearby Dayak people group, to do the work of ministering to their related Melayu neighbors. SIM desires to see outside missionaries equipping the local churches to take up the primary ministry roles and for them to fund their own ministries as much as possible.
"Initially our aim is to plant seeds of understanding in the hearts and minds of local Dayak believers, as we work with one of their local church denominations," Hendri says. "We hope they will see that God also desires Orang Melayu to worship Him. We hope to see a growing burden in the lives of believers to see Orang Melayu come to Christ." Despite the opposition to Christianity, many acknowledge how their faith and integrity has benefitted their lives in concrete ways. They are also realising their calling to go out as missionaries themselves.
"Our Dayak church leaders realise that it was the coming of the Gospel that has made such a tremendous difference in their lives - from poverty to relatively stable finances, from constant sickness to fairly consistent health, from poor social status to being teachers and government officials," Hendri says.
"We are helping them to see that this was only possible because some people obeyed God's call and followed Him to Kalimantan. We are challenging them to consider whether God might be calling some of them to be cross-cultural workers among least-reached peoples in Indonesia and beyond. The Melayu for example, have very similar culture and background in some respects. Who better to minister to them than the Dayaks?"
Join usYou can join this new ministry in several roles, whether long-term or short-term. Especially people with skills in logistical ministry support who can train locals, and people with experience in English teaching are needed.