Alor Island is one of the most eastern islands in Indonesia. One word to describe it is “beautiful.” Another may be “hard to get to.” Yet another would be “diverse.” Apart from its remote beauty, they island has struggles between its many tongues and tribes. In fact, the local Christian population affectionately refers to the island as “Babel.” J There are 42 tribes on the island. (That’s right, I said 42!) AND each tribe has its own language. AND each language has 5 dialects which are so distinct that even people from the same tribe cannot understand one another if they have different dialects, and yet are from the same tribe! Thankfully, the national language of Indonesia is widely understood, allowing for open communication.
We came to Alor for an outreach organized by local church leaders. However, when we arrived, we soon realized something had gone wrong in the planning. Communication from our side was good, through trusted friends in Indonesia. But there was a short-circuit among local leaders that made it difficult to organize. Communication broke down along with our plans.
Still, Scripture does not tell us to hide the unexpected or unsuccessful events. Instead, I submit the following direction:
“Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) And again… “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
Even with our plans not being successful (as we had hoped), I reminded myself that Jesus is STILL Lord of the harvest! E still serve Him. And our time in Alor was greatly used by God!
We ministered in the two mens’ prisons on the island and the session in the main prison was amazingly powerful! I preached a straight and powerful man-sized gospel with a challenge for manhood. My good friend Wibowo interpreted. Afterward, he looked at me and said, “we were bold!” That we were. The Lord also prompted us to speak over their lives and there was a prophetic word for each man who wished to come forward. It was a powerful moment in the Holy Spirit we will never forget. Absolutely precious! Additionally, we had gone to the prison in the Police station in the morning and we forgot our identification. Subsequently, they did not permit us to speak to the prisoners. But after praying in the Spirit and speaking with the officers in charge, they gave us permission and also approved papers for the big prison that afternoon! 😉 Jesus is amazing!
We also spoke in local schools and share Christ with them openly. One school was for the lame, disabled and handicapped (which was among one of my most favourite places to visit.) We were deliberately led to schools where the poorest and disadvantaged children studied. But I tell you that they were glued to our every word as we ministered to them. It was a lot of fun as we ministered and led them in a prayer of salvation. There were so many students that they could not even all fit into the large assembly hall! Many were crowded outside the windows. Listening and sometimes trying to act “cool.” The response was tremendous!
One especially rainy afternoon, we found ourselves in the home of some so-called island “gangsters.” These groups were well-known for being involved with some terrible events on the island. They drank heavily and were often out of control and violent. However, I found them very receptive to Jesus Christ. We ate with them. Spoke with them. Laughed with them and made friends and led them in a prayer of salvation. Their families joined us. Their leader told me privately, “I have done some very bad things.” My response: “you have a beautiful family.” “I know” he said with a smile.
“We tried to go to church, but were not allowed to stay” one of the gangsters said. This phrase saddened me to no end. What kind of self-righteous hypocrite would turn such sincere people away…and away from Jesus?! Thankfully, a local friend is stepping up to love and minister to them. In the future, I believe this group can honor God. They already have a strong community and with Christ, ALL things are possible.
We continued to speak in churches and with church leaders. We ministered several times over the local radio station. We taught in a local Theological Bible Seminary and many other things… anything we could do to proclaim Christ in the wake of obvious disappointment. We shifted from harvesting to sowing as that is what the Lord of the harvest required at this time. We now have friends there and will work with them for a great and mighty harvest in the near future!
We will return and Alor Island will return to the Lord!
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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