We harvested some “unusual Fruit” at UniPa (University of Papua) 6-8 November 2014.
Many gospel campaigns have been held in the city of Manokwari, Indonesia but never at UNIPA, the largest university in west Papua with more than 6,000 students.
However, student riots and some demonstrations occurred on the University campus just 2 days before the start of the crusade. A misunderstanding among the students led them to felling trees across campus roads and even beating several students and lecturers during class. As a result, all on-campus activity was cancelled …except the campus-crusade, so we pressed on.
About 300 students attended the first evening meeting. We preached our hearts out and led the students in prayer. At first the committee along with myself thought the late afternoon rain had affected the attendance, but we soon realized that all the people form the town stayed away because of the recent reports of violence on campus.
We conducted a morning fire conference for two day. In this first session, 250 church leaders and students attended with good response. We challenged attendees to faith and the need for a clear, passionate gospel in Papua. I also did some deeper teaching on the cross which was much appreciated. Attendees responded with faith and stayed afterward to pray with one another.
The second evening meeting was also difficult. Despite additional local efforts, the students and local people were still fearful because of the recent riots. Still, more than 400 students and some church leaders attended and the Lord was present. A wave of repentance swept through the students and many came to Christ. Despite the low attendance, the committee was surprised at the response.
The second morning session powerful. Attendees hung on every word. They were immersed into what the Lord was speaking to them. After praying for every person in attendance to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, attendees were led to pray for one another. The time of ministry that followed was both sweet and powerful. Hugs and tears of gratitude flowed.
In the third and final evening meeting, more than 300 students attended. We preached the Gospel as though it would be someone’s last opportunity for repentance. We prayed for the sick and there were some wonderful testimonies. But the surprise came at the end.
At the close of the meeting, the Rector (President) of UniPa (University of Papua) stood to announce that because of the crusade, the spirit of the school would not be broken. He declared that the school would march through Manokwari the following weekend to declare its peace and the unity of the student body and lecturers. He had also planned an important announcement for the final night. And although attendance was also not what he expected, he used the occasion to announce a name change for the school; from UNIPA to “Universitas Papua” (University of Papua). The announcement was important, and the students responded with shouts of joy.
We unknowingly arrived on the university at a critical time of transition which made for some “unusual fruit;” unexpected results. However, the Lord used us to mend hatred and offenses. Healing and reconciliation became the message along with salvation.
It was also good to work as an evangelistic ministry alongside leaders in the private and government sectors. The gospel ministered to the needs of the University in a time of crisis.
Our coming also fuelled a desire from the local committee to start engaging students and sending them out to remote villages and nearby islands to share Christ. Therefore, it seems that we came for harvest, brought healing and planted seeds capable of sprouting future missionaries and proclaimers of the gospel!
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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