Three Indonesian teams of church planters, and a fourth in formation, are fully supported by the Reformed Partnership for Indonesia, a group of seven American churches including Second engaged in national ministries in West Java. Each team consists of one experienced team leader joined by one or two others, single or more often families, who engage an unreached area of West Java with the gospel. The Sundanese people of West Java are >99% Muslim and consider their religion part of their ethnic identity. Christianity is for “others” and most who turn to Christ are shunned (or worse) by their community. Yet through the work of these three teams over the past few years hundreds have heard the gospel and dozens have turned to Christ.
Yet these beautiful victories come with a cost. One of the team leaders had to relocate after recent credible threats of violence against his family. All the team members have moved from home and Christian community to live basically isolated lives as Christians in an Islamic culture. They are genuine missionaries within their own country, leaving city and culture to live among others, who speak a different language, for the sake of the gospel.
Last fall a team of women from Second traveled to Jakarta to help with PARI’s bi-annual women’s retreat. The wives of the church planters our partnership supports, along with the wives of the other teams, gathered together for three days of encouragement and strengthening. “We saw precious women living out Romans 12:1, presenting themselves as living sacrifices with their service, choosing to go into the hardest places,” reported Roberta Eason. Catherine Burns continues, “They viewed their faith through the lens of evangelism and believed that God was going to lead them to people each day with whom they could share the gospel. It challenged me in significant ways.” The women who attended committed to praying for their sisters in Indonesia on a regular basis. "We saw God’s vision, creativity, faithfulness and fruitfulness in this culture in the self-giving lives of these servants of the cross,” reported Kathy Hammond. "We returned to the U.S. humbled by their sacrifice, grateful for God’s kindness, and committed to praying for the light of Christ to dispel the darkness in Indonesia.”
PARI is a leading example of initiative-oriented evangelism among unreached people. In contrast with what God is doing on the Arabian Peninsula, these are people who live in towns and villages on the most populous island nation in the world. In these settings everyone knows everybody else’s business, so having regular weekly meetings with an outsider is noticed by the community. That is why the church planters help the new believers engage their own network of relationships with the gospel. When a group of people comes to faith, they are led by their own friends who are coached by the team of church planters. While these meetings of 5-10 people might look like small groups to us at Second, they are genuine church communities, gathered around worship, prayer, fellowship, and the Word of God.
In the Middle East, both national partners and foreign workers serve displaced people currently living in Lebanon. Over a million Syrian refugees currently reside in Lebanon, and our partners serve some of them through a variety of outreach ministries. They play soccer, share meals together, distribute appropriate humanitarian aid, and pursue authentic relationships. In this context many have begun to explore what it means to follow Christ and begun participating in Bible studies and worship services explicitly designed for Syrian Muslims.