The Hope Festival in Soe, Indonesia (July 4-7) was a great success.
Soe is located high on a mountain top. The two hour drive from the city of
Kupang winds upward all the way to the town center of Soe.
Although Indonesian weather is generally warm to tropical and very hot, Soe was found to be cold during our stay. My interpreter on this trip (Daniel Pradhana) was wearing a thin Batik shirt (made of thin cotton, silk or polyester) on the opening night. I was only slightly more comfortable in my two-piece suit as the wind blew hard throughout the meeting. Then, the mountain mist rolled in, blowing to and fro; making everything (and everyone) wet. By the end of the meeting, our hands had become stiff from the cold, wet air. Still, God was at work.
Despite the weather, the people stayed that first night. It was then thought that the weather might then keep people away the next three nights, but they kept coming in greater numbers!
The weather was cold. The water was cold. And for the most part, we were also cold. …but the gospel of Jesus Christ is always hot and ready to warm the hearts of every person who hears it.
Roughly 3,500 people attended the first of four public evening meetings. Attendance grew to nearly 6,000 people who came to hear the gospel on the last night. This showing was apparently considered to be very strong given the rather humble size of the local population. I was told that this was the largest attendance of any similar event in this area. Whether that is so or not I cannot tell, but it does show that Jesus was speaking to the people.
Some came forward in tears. Their sobbing could be heard from the platform where I stood. Others carried a look of complete relief on their face as if to say “finally, I am home.” There is no better place to be than in the hands of Jesus. Jesus saves. He changes lives. He gives us hope and a home in heaven. He protects us and gives the assurance that even the foulest life is no obstacle for His provision.
In all, exactly 1,812 new believer decision cards were completed over the four nights. The counselors worked feverishly to gather the contact information of those who received Christ into their life.
Jesus never changes. His power to save and to heal is always working.
A young lady, 15 years old, had a heart condition that caused her heart to beat very erratically and quickly all of her life. She told that she had been bothered by this condition every day for her whole life. There had never been a moment of relief. It was a part of her life, but Jesus also became part of her life and healed her. She stood beside me with tears of joy and relief as she described her previous condition. She could only describe the change in her body as “normal.” Praise the Lord!
I must tell of one more miracle.
One man had long suffered with a tumor/growth on his neck. It had been growing there for 12 years and had reached the extraordinary weight of 3 kilograms (6.61 pounds)! It had affected his eating habits and his ability to speak. We prayed for healing every night, but Jesus healed him in the middle of the day (12 noon)! It took no fancy sermon. Jesus is always ready to heal.
(WARNING: This paragraph may be graphic for some readers.) The man recalled how the Lord healed him of this tumor. He said that the growth “popped open” and he filled two buckets of blood mixed with a yellow-green colored substance that came out. His story was told at the beginning of one of the evening meetings. He had a red handkerchief around his neck to prevent infection and to protect the opening in His skin. I have never seen someone so happy to wear a bandage! He was, however, still unable to talk. But the Lord finished the work, healing his speech during the final service!
HOLY SPIRIT AND FIRE
The morning “Fire Festival” will perhaps leave the greatest impact in the region. For four days, church workers and pastors were encouraged and strengthened in evangelism and in their understanding of the Holy Spirit and faith. Attendance was again high for this area, growing to around 250 on the final day. (If you think the number modest, then we must refer to scripture. This was more than twice the attendance of those in the upper room when the Holy Spirit was given to the church as described in the book of Acts, chapter 2.)
Every attendee came ready to receive from the Lord on the final morning. As a result, many church workers received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not withheld from the church. He is given without reserve and I trust that He will continue to move through the lives and ministries of these church leaders and their congregations.
The morning conference closed with many of the church leaders expressing their gratitude with tears. I have personally never seen such sincere thanks from a gathering of pastors. They were very touched that we came. They also send their thanks and prayers to those who have supported The Nations Hope and especially those who have made the Hope Festival and morning Fire Festival possible.
There is no greater opportunity than to partner with Jesus! And we rejoice in what God is doing in Indonesia.
We are busier than ever; planning and preparing to increase our effectiveness in reaching and winning the lost. In the coming weeks, you will hear of some exciting developments for our next campaign with two Hope Festivals on Sumba Island (in Indonesia) which is coming soon!