Disciplemaking in the shadow of the crescent moon

Disciplemaking in the shadow of the crescent moon

Making disciples of the unsaved, who are naturally hostile to the gospel (1 Cor 2:14), was never meant to be easy. It is slow, arduous, Spirit-dependent work that demands absolute commitment, steely courage, selfless love and an immense amount of wisdom. This is the impression I was left with from my recent, short but very impactful, trip to Indonesia to witness firsthand a work among the fishing villages among the islands off Sumatra. No wonder Jesus assured us of His supreme authority and perpetual presence when He commanded us to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20).

I arrived in Singapore at 2:30 am, Monday morning. After catching a few hours’ sleep in the airport lounge I caught a taxi to the ferry terminal where I lined up with businessmen and golfing tourists to board the Majestic Ferry to an island off Sumatra. During the journey I met Adrian, a wealthy Singaporean seeking to exploit the growing real estate market there. At 8:30 am we arrived under the shadow of the giant Grand Mosque crowned by its crescent moon, reminding all visitors that while Indonesia claims religious inclusivity, she is a nation sold out to Islam.

I was greeted by Daniel Riad and JF and taken to the local market for breakfast. It was good to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar country. JF and his family have lived in Indonesia for the past 10 years. Their goal, to tell people about Jesus no matter the cost. After breakfast we travelled to A’s small home where we were greeted by his wife and two-year-old boy. His son, who was suffering from a fever, lay on his bed in the hot, humid conditions while A shared with us his heart and his ministry. Having received salvation, he was compelled to tell others about his Saviour. So like the demon-delivered man from Gerasene the Lord told A, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).

A is now an intern who works fulltime with JF. His task, along with five other men JF has discipled, is to go out to the “highways and hedges” – in this case, the islands and the villages – “and compel them to come in, that [the Lord’s house] may be filled” (Luke 14:23). Therefore, with their marching orders in mind, a Bible in hand and faith in their hearts they go from house to house. And like the disciples of old they seek a person willing to engage in spiritual conversation. More often than not these conversations bear little perceivable fruit. But now and then, a relationship is formed and the Word of Life, affirmed by actions of love, connect with the heart and someone believes.

That afternoon we had our own opportunity to develop such a relationship. One of JF’s sons has Down syndrome. What most of the world sees as a curse, this brother sees as a precious gift from God and asset for the gospel. A connection of JF’s knew of a family of a man with a mental disability. So, armed with an invitation to visit, JF, his wife, son, Daniel and I boarded a small boat and wove our way through islands skirted by fishing villages until we reached our destination. We spent time with the disabled man and his 16-year-old carer. There were no conversions that day but we made some friends and built a bridge for future interaction. As JF’s son entertained us all by singing karaoke, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do,” I was convicted by the Lord’s words to Jeremiah, “Is anything too hard for me?”. No, there is not. It is true, there is nothing my God cannot do. And Lord willing in time may we see the truth of this unfold in this home and to this people.

The following morning we met with JF’s interns for their weekly systematic Bible study. On this day they were in Ephesians 3 where Paul outlines the mystery of the gospel. Paul said,

…this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things” Eph 3:8-9

Such a light had fallen on those brothers, and now it was their turn to shine the light into dark places.

As I watched the Grand Mosque fall from view that afternoon on my ferry trip back to Singapore I reflected on the immense privilege it was for me to get a front row seat as I witnessed the missionary work among these islands.

The Lord said He will build His church. His love is so insatiable that every barrier will be broken down, even the gates of hell, in our Lord’s pursuit to set the captives free. From our perspective it looks like a family leaving the comforts of their home to spend years learning a language, settling among and embracing a people who are not their own and beginning to form relationships that are doors through which the unsearchable riches of Christ can be presented. It is slow, tiring, God-dependent work. But from the perspective of Heaven, where time is not measured, light is breaking into dark hearts according to God’s plan and angels are singing for joy. Indeed the Son of God is rising over the crescent moon of Islam.

The needs are immense, but our God is “so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Faithfulness to the Lord’s mission has always been the measure of a believer’s devotion to their Lord. May King Jesus find us faithful in our service to His mission, no matter the cost, for He is infinitely worth it.

Pastor Craig Baxter


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