As Area Director for Southeast Asia and Japan, I am thankful to serve with our partner, the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches (GGBI). Since 2015, I have been blessed, encouraged and inspired by their service to Christ and his Kingdom.
International Ministries’ (IM) partner, the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches (GGBI), has been experiencing challenging days as they have faced the pandemic of COVID-19. In Indonesia, disciples of Jesus live and witness in a unique situation. The country is large in distance and geography as well as in economy, population and history with diverse cultures and languages. Sunni Islam is the majority religion, and about 10% of Indonesians are Christians. Baptists came to Indonesia in 1951 and the first baptism took place in 1952.
The GGBI today is a vibrant denomination with 294 established churches and 320 church plants. With sixty thousand members and 19 regional/local associations, they minister in the areas of evangelism, education and social ministries (including relief work). The GGBI also has schools, hospitals and many diverse programs.
Because of COVID-19, their five-year congress had to be postponed, even though it is an important meeting where a legal document is produced and agreed on allowing them to do ministry in Indonesia. Many of their churches are economically affected as they face a declining income. GGBI’s desire is to assist local churches at this time and, although some areas are seeing a flattening of the number of cases, in other areas the new numbers continue to be high.
To ease the economic challenges faced by local pastors since April 2020, GGBI has been distributing a monthly cash assistance to as many as 300 Pastors. The purpose of the cash assistance is to assist them to secure basic staples for their families for one month, and GGBI planned to continue this subsidy for a total of three months. IM, through a grant from the COVID-19 International Relief Fund, was able to assist with $1,000 for this program.
GGBI has been able to be in contact with pastors through Skype and Zoom and attempts to have regular meetings to discuss the common issues many of the churches are facing. One challenge is the lack of solid internet and capability for doing online worship and meetings with congregations.
This challenging situation is propelling GGBI to move forward to expedite the establishment of “MEDIA BAPTIS”. Empowered by the younger generations, they are generating a series of online programs of prayers, online concerts for fund raising for seminaries, and online Biblical teaching. These were developed to become regular programs. The GGBI is also working hard to electronically manage SAIN, their child discipleship program and a recipient of an IM Palmer Grant.
GGBI leaders ask for prayer for: their churches which are in the “hot” zones; increased capacity for online meetings and programs; their economic situation; and their hospitals and clinics which are struggling as people are staying home, fearful of going to the hospital for anything less than serious issues.
Rev. Leslie Turley