Jakarta is a city of more than 26 million people, 85% of whom are followers of Islam. The city’s business district, with its skyscrapers and fancy malls, attracts many professionals, while the slums are filled with people swarming to the big city from other provinces in search of work. This dense population comes with notorious traffic jams that can leave you stranded for hours. And it is here, in this sprawling, thriving city, that God is choosing to establish His church.
Church-planter Tezar Putra says that in 2011 God gave him the desire to plant a church in his hometown of Jakarta. He says that was when he realized the deep need for gospel-preaching, Bible-centered churches in the city. He and his wife Tatiana moved to Jakarta in 2015 and began gathering a team of people to launch a new type of church—one that would engage the people and culture of Jakarta with the gospel in a winsome and sensitive way through being reformed and preaching the whole council of God.
“One of the biggest struggles [that year] was making sure the people who wanted to join the team were on the same page, in terms of vision and mission,” Tezar remembers. “But it was a blessing too in seeing God provide those people.”
The Lord did indeed provide, and the core team of Covenant City Church worked faithfully for the year leading up to the launch of the church plant to ensure a good foundation. When the church finally launched on July 24, 2016, it was a huge encouragement to those who had been working behind the scenes for so long.
“The people we have on our team are particularly well-connected in our city,” Tezar says. “We knew the first worship service would be a big blast because friends and parents would come to support the new church plant. We had 112 people at our first worship service. The team was really encouraged.”
But it is not primarily about the numbers. As Covenant City Church has grown, the services give a picture of what church should be: faithful preaching of the Word of God within a tightly knit community.
“One of the people on the team actually came away [from the first service] with tears in his eyes because he finally felt like he had found a church he could call home, where he could rest,” recalls Tezar.
In the last five months, God has been moving in deep and meaningful ways among His people in Jakarta. Three community groups have been formed since the launch of the church, which meet in three different areas of Jakarta. Two groups are for singles and one is for married couples.
“People are wanting to learn how to study the Bible,” says Tezar. “They ask, ‘How do I know what my God is trying to tell me so that I can know how to live according to His will?’ We are seeing much growth in that area.”
God has also used the sermons at Covenant City Church to lead at least one person to Christ. One girl in particular came to the church three times before coming up to Tezar and telling him, through tears, that she finally grasped what the Gospel means. She understood that God did not leave His relationship with her up to chance, and that she can rest in her salvation through the work of Christ on the cross.
“She has been on fire for the Lord ever since,” says Tezar. “She recently told me she loves the new life she’s in, the new people she gets to live it with, and that she loves making decisions based on the Bible. She has been a highlight for us.”
As Covenant City Church continues to grow and develop, there is a lot of work still ahead. “As a church, we are wanting to get more organized,” Tezar says with a smile. “Not for the sake of organization, but so that it gives us more of an arm to reach the city. We want to move forward into things that are more evangelistic and outreach-oriented now that we have established ourselves as a church with Sunday morning worship.”
The church, as the bride of Christ, is an essential part of what God is doing in Jakarta to draw people to Himself. Tezar humbly repeats that his desire is to be faithful to what God has asked him to do. The church, as an institution established by God, is an essential part of God’s work anywhere.
“If you want to be part of completing God’s work, be part of planting multiple churches in the city that you are in,” says Tezar. “Covenant City Church is just attempting to be one of those churches.”