A shaman in Indonesia, Farel Wati*, had quit his life as a robber and drug seller five years ago, but he still had no peace.
Wati had also killed three people.
Recently he was making an honest living and earning good money at a time when many were facing economic hardship, but Wati still felt deeply troubled.
His brother-in-law had come to faith in Christ through a local missionary, and Wati invited the worker and others from the ministry to his house to talk with him and his family about Christ, the ministry leader said. When the local missionaries showed up, they found 40 people at the house.
“All of them responded to our preaching and wanted to be baptized,” the leader said. “Wati and several others were baptized the next day, and the rest of the people were baptized in groups throughout the month.”
Many of those present handed over their amulets and other trinkets of sorcery to be burned, and Wati gave up his loaded gun and kris blade, a dagger regarded as a talisman with magical powers.
“He also confessed the sins he had committed in the past, namely killing at least three people and shooting eight others,” the ministry leader said. “He has found the peace he had been looking for when he received the forgiveness of his sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.’
Wati has diligently studied God’s Word with the native ministry’s church planters.
“Those who knew him have seen a change in his life, and he has begun to influence them,” the leader said.
When workers reach a point that they can disciple three or four new, adult Christians who have been baptized, they form a house church, the leader said. Once the fellowship grows to 10 adults, some break off and start a new house church in a nearby area.
Thus the 900 people that workers led to the Lord over a six-month period formed 100 new house churches, he said.
COVID-19 restrictions forced workers to focus on discipling existing believers, either in person or online, more than meeting new people – which, ironically, resulted in greater growth as the Christians were better equipped to share the gospel with others, he said.
“Eventually, many new believers were added as the result of these new believers sharing the gospel with their family and friends,” the leader said. “Also, we are grateful to the Lord who confirmed the church planters’ preaching with miracles. The miracles have attracted more people to hear the gospel and believe it.”
First Century Model
This word-of-mouth church growth, a replica of the first-century spread of the gospel, shined when a village chief and his family accepted Christ after seeing the transformation in a local woman a worker had led to the Lord.
“He was so amazed to witness the peace that this woman had despite the hardship she had been having in her life,” the ministry leader said.
The village chief invited a man named Dimas* and his wife to visit his house church and, struck by the truth of the message there, Dimas in turn asked members to visit his father-in-law’s house to share the gospel with him and his extended family.
“There were 17 adult people who heard the gospel within the extended family that day, and they all responded to the gospel,” the leader said. “The believers then prayed for the recovery of Dimas’s brother-in-law, who had been suffering from mental illness for 10 years. Praise God, when the family believed in the Lord Jesus, he also gradually recovered from his illness.”
Those 17 people shared their testimonies with others who in turn trusted in Christ, and the ministry’s church planters guided and discipled them, the leader said. Four new house churches were planted.
Among the hundreds of people who heard about Christ from local missionaries were many Muslims, including those in people groups harshly opposed to the gospel, he said. Native missionaries culturally contextualized the gospel in a way that not only resonated with Muslims but avoided violating laws against speaking against religion.
“We do not talk about apologetics, nor do we quote verses from their scriptures or talk about the weaknesses of their prophet, because these are against the law in our country,” the leader said. “As long as we preach the gospel according to what is written in the Bible – the story of Adam and Eve and the story of Isa Al-Masih, who died as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins for all mankind – this culturally friendly preaching is more acceptable for open-minded Muslims.”
The workers and others are making disciples amid difficult circumstances throughout Indonesia. Please consider a donation today to equip them for the task.
*Names changed for security reasons