When we arrived, the memory of recent tragedy still lingered in the minds and hearts of the people. Just eight weeks before our arrival here in Kaimana, 7 May 2011, the town had become the center of international attention when a passenger plane crashed into shallow waters, 500 meters short of the runway of the shoreside airport. All 27 people on board were killed. The people spoke about it often.
As a result of the tragedy, we had to postpone the gospel campaign (Hope Festival) for one month, making this a June campaign happening in July. Nevertheless, Jesus was prepared to break through the gloom of all past events and devestation. He came to heal broken hearts, forgive of all sin, call His people out of darkness and adopt them into His family, heal all diseases and to bless Kaimana.
After flying and traveling all through the night, we arrived at 9:30 Tuesday morning on a grey rainy day. Our team was greeted with a traditional welcome including tribal drumming and ceremony. I was given a wonderful new crown that featured the feathers of a bird of Paradise held together by kangaroo skin. (Yes, there are kangaroos in this part of Indonesia.) We were quickly moved into the back of some trucks to parade through the town to announce the week’s public events. One lady from the tribe stood in the truck beside me, shouting “hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo” as she marched. It was part of a celebration dance. An entire drum and flute ensemble followed in the truck behind us. People enthusiastically waved as we passed through town. Some shouted. Others blew kisses. One lady ran out of the beauty salon; darting out the door with shampoo still in her hair to greet us! This was truly a place prepared to meet Jesus.
Public evening meetings are free and open to everyone. These gathering take place outside in the open air under the stars. We pray for “stars;” not “clouds.” For some weeks prior to this Hope Festival, the town experienced rain every single day. The local churches and our team had prayed for clear weather during this campaign and that is exactly what happened. In fact, we could not have prayed for better weather. Instead of rain, Jesus poured out His love on the people.
Over the course of four nights, the people of Kaimana gathered together on the local soccer field. At least 2000 – 3000+ people attended each night. They had never had such a large gathering and I was also told that I was the first foreigner to speak here. It is wonderful to preach the gospel in such a setting anywhere, but I especially like to “plow” a new garden for Jesus whenever possible.
I reached the simple and powerful message of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ every night. From the very beginning, people flooded the area in front of the platform to pray a prayer of faith and welcome Jesus into their hearts. Once the door of salvation opened, it could not seem to be closed. They kept coming to Jesus!
Counselors; members from the local churches were present to meet the new believers and gather their contact information so that local churches could continue the relationship and love them into the body of Christ. These truly were days of salvation in Kaimana, Indonesia!
Healing is part of the gospel. Every time we preach the gospel, we also take time to pray for the sick. Night after night people came forward to tell of what Jesus was doing. The people just kept coming to tell how Jesus had healed them. Back problems, legs, heart, stomach pain and ulcers, etc. If we were to write them all down, it would sound like two to three days worth of patients treated in any hospital, but this was all done perfectly by the same physician; Dr. Jesus.
One of the first healings reported was unforgettable. A woman who suffered with a tumor on her lower back over five years was present. When we began to pray for the sick from the platform, she placed her hand on that terrible thing and Jesus took it away! She felt that thing shrink away into nothingness. the tumor was gone forever. The relief on her face told all that we needed to know.
On the second night, a woman wearing her head covering walked onto the platform and stood beside me. A younger lady trailed behind her, crying. It turns out that this mother had been in an accident 5 years prior and unable to walk due to damage to her hip and right leg. This young lady who was still crying had carried her mother to the soccer field that night to be healed by Jesus and He was glad to do it! As she walked about the platform, there was no remaining evidence of the accident that had maimed her. The only remaining evidence was the power of God.
When asked who had healed her, she shouted “Tuhan Yesus,” her “God Jesus” had healed her! The people went wild with excitement.
The Un-Paralyzed Man
A man had suffered the paralyzing effects of stroke for several years. His condition left him unable to walk. But God met him and he stood with such great joy that it became a highlight of the evening. Although some of the effects still remained and he could not speak, his grateful enthusiasm and excitement told everyone plenty! It was contagious. He walked around the platform with eyes wide with excitement, giving “two thumbs up” to the crowd and trying to shout in my microphone. Gratitude makes Jesus’ healing work glorious.
Bottom to Top
One woman was determined not to be forgotten. She had apparently not been able to walk for some time. This was confirmed as we interviewed her on the platform. Jesus had healed her legs and she came walking to tell us. But after telling us how Jesus touched her legs she began pointing to her eyes. “My eye, my eyes!” she said. She also had problems seeing and it seemed her eyes were only a little better. This was unacceptable by her standards. It certainly was not what Jesus promised either! Jesus touched the bottom half but she needed to be “topped-up”! Her legs were healed, but she believed for more and would not rest until God had touched her. To be fully mobile and walking was no good to her unless she could also be fully seeing as well. We prayed for her eyesight to be restored and sent her on her way.
The final night of the Hope Festival, we had so many testimonies that I just kept reaching for the next one, the next one and the next one, …but there she was! My interpreter had to tell me “she was back.” She and I looked at each other and her eyes were absolutely clear! They were visibly different than the night before. She could see perfectly and proved it. What a wonderful woman of faith. God has used her to bless us all.
Over three consecutive mornings, a seminar was conducted for church workers and pastors. Myself and Pastor Hendrik Sarioa from Jayapura, Indonesia handled these sessions. Those who attended received were built up in faith and ministry. My sessions mainly focused on issues of faith and practical teaching on understanding the power of God working through His people and the Holy Spirit. Pastor Hendrik focused on utilizing the whole church as part of bringing the gospel to the world.
Over two mornings, our team divided in order to minister to some villages. One part of our team gathered three villages together to share Christ and minister to the children and also pray for the sick and pass out Bibles. It was such a fruitful time of ministry. They traveled back in a longboat over ocean waves that were 3-4 meters high. (O, how I wish I could have been part of that adventure.)
I was part of a group that traveled the following morning to visit two different villages and although our arrival was somewhat of a surprise, the places where we gathered were filled to overflowing with people. The villages and our team was so blessed. Village ministry will become a standard part of our Hope Festivals whenever possible.
Radio played a big part of our campaign again this time. We were able to broadcast live the last two nights and we were receiving feedback of salvations and physical healing from towns that were located on entirely different islands; places that would require at least a 2 hour flight to reach them! It was incredible to hear these testimonies!
Feedback was made possible as well by the use of SMS or “text messaging.” This is one of the recent updates to our Hope Festivals. It was our first attempt at utilizing SMS in the promotion and follow-up of our Festivals and it was a success. Even now, we still maintain contact with all of the people who have contacted us through SMS. For about two months, we will use this as a way to lead new believers through basic scriptures and understanding of church life. This gives them a chance to connect with the Bible and find a local church that will help them grow as disciples of Christ.
Various members of our team went out to minister is various churches on Sunday. This would also be the day of our departure. The chairperson of the committee invited me to preach at his church Sunday morning. He had said it was a small church in his living room, but that living room became full of living people. They also came to sit outside the house, lining the nearby road with plastic chairs where they came, sat and listened.
The gift of God through the cross of Christ should lead us all to tears of joy. No one and nothing else call bestow higher dignity upon humanity. And as we spoke, tears ran. One woman shook my hand, looked up into my eyes and started crying again at the end of the meeting. God had broken through in this small church.
Afterwards, the chairperson again met us at the airport to see us off. “We are different now,” he said. “The people are happy. Everything is different. It has never been like this before.”
With that statement in mind I conclude this report for nothing more can be added. Wherever Jesus saves a soul, the end result is salvation. All things become new when they are born again. When Jesus touches, people are not only forgiven, but also made a child of God. We are not as we were before. “We are different now!”
Jason Betler is the founding evangelist of The Nations Hope, and an ordained minister of The Foursquare Church. A "dad joke" enthusiast, Jason and his wife Angelique reside with their three children in San Jose, California.
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