For those of you who didn’t memorize our blog posts from last year, I thought I would give a brief refresher on where Indonesia is and some of the dynamics happening there…especially on one island in particular.
Indonesia is in Southeast Asia and is comprised of over 17,000 islands (6,000 inhabited). The population is approximately 250 million with about 500 languages spoken. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world.
Last year we visited 7 islands throughout Indonesia. We had connections in each place and saw the diversity of Indonesia in each place. We also saw firsthand how God is at work in the Muslim nation. As we met many locals, our eyes were opened to a very welcoming, hospitable and loving group of people.
This year we will be returning to one island with a different dynamic. While the rest of Indonesia is predominately Muslim, this island has a population of 4.2 million and is 93% Hindu; 6.5% Muslim and .2% Christian. According to The Joshua Project, it is classified as one of the least reached people groups for the Gospel. (The definition of an unreached people group simply means that it lacks enough followers of Christ and resources to evangelize their own people.)
This island also ranks in the top 50 most persecuted places on the planet. The most common persecution is to be cut off from family, and to lose their job. There are some instances of violence, and even death, if you convert to Christianity. However, with the majority of converts losing the support of family and means to make a livelihood, it is a struggle to become the outcast.
Poverty is already an issue, and one that has gotten the attention of other organizations in the area. As the issues of clean water (in some areas, women still walk 2 hours a day for clean water), education (many parents cannot afford to have their children attend school), and basic health care are starting to be addressed.
So, what will the Williams family be doing? Our plan is to join in with the organizations already working on the island. The Christian church is growing and tackling some of the poverty issues. Initiatives to offer sewing lessons in impoverished areas and to those who have lost their jobs due to following Jesus, are working. There are many programs going into smaller villages and doing soccer programs and teaching English. We will also seek out ways to encourage fellow believers.
It has been amazing to see the openness to having us visit. I offered to give some references, but they had already checked out our website and remarked “You are just what we need! A heart for the Gospel, for the poor and supporting initiatives.”
Honestly, we never know exactly what we will be doing. We go with an open agenda and pray we can be used for His Glory to further His Kingdom. Today we simply say, “Here I am…send me.”