INDONESIA — Tears slid down
the curve of her brown cheek; her shoulders tensed in emotion. She cried
without reservation as a man placed one hand on her head and raised the other.
His prayer for her was drowned out by praise music.
From the first pew to the
back wall of a seminary auditorium, Indonesian and American Christians closed
their eyes, raised their hands and sang praises to God. Southern Baptist
pastors David Platt and J.D. Greear stood in the first row, hands lifted with
the rest. Greear had just given an invitation to the audience, asking if anyone
wanted to know Jesus as their personal Savior.
That night, three people
The church can reach these
unreached peoples with the love and joy of Christ, Platt said, however it will
come at great cost. “But in the end, it will be totally worth it.”
In his recently released
book, Radical, Platt calls for American churches to abandon their inward focus
and forgo comforts to share the gospel with all nations — to sacrifice and go.
Platt, pastor of The Church
at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., preached in churches, seminaries and
Baptist conventions in Indonesia in mid-October. J.D. Greear, lead pastor of
The Summit Church in Durham, and eight other Southern Baptist pastors and
missions leaders from the United States preached in addition to Platt.
They encouraged local
Christians and challenged them to proclaim Christ’s love throughout Indonesia,
the world’s largest Muslim nation. The pastors also sought ways their own
churches could actively get involved in taking the gospel to unreached people
groups. During this process, they found inspiration from their audiences.
Speaking in stifling hot
auditoriums and sanctuaries, the pastors delivered messages about the cost of
witnessing and the worth of Jesus Christ.
“Some of you might be called
to go to places that are very dangerous or where people may not like you,”
Greear said from the pulpit. “My friends, is Jesus enough for you?”
Many listeners already knew
the price of the gospel. One female listener had begun a movement that birthed
four generations of believers in a previously unreached village. One man went
to jail for the same kind of initiative.
Jacob Snow* is encouraging Indonesian believers to do what’s necessary to share
the news of Christ. But because of ethnic and cultural divisions among people
groups, he said many local congregations — like many American churches —
embrace the status quo.
But things have begun to
change, he said, noting that local Christians have started to see their
neighbors differently — as people God loves and as people with whom they must
share their faith.
Because of this, Platt and
Greear’s presence made an impact.
“I think the local people
are humbled by the fact that Christians from America are willing to come to
this island, and they come having a heart for the unreached,” Snow said. “It’s
a … reminder to the local believer that the body of Christ is trusted with
the gospel and that baton of faith must be passed to the unreached. They have a
right to hear.”
As Platt and Greear spoke in
Indonesia, their audiences responded.
Greear still speaks some
Indonesian from his stint 12 years ago as a short-term worker there. He used
the language he recalled to mingle with audiences, getting ideas for future
ministry from Indonesian pastors and finding encouragement through stories of
the people God has already used to advance the faith.
One of those stories was
Budi Syamsuddin*, a former drug dealer from the island of Java who became a
Christian while in prison and has since led 10 people to Christ. Under his
training, those 10 people have started a church-planting movement resulting in
nearly 700 new believers in five years.
“I began to think what would
happen if every follower of Christ was doing what Budi is doing — making
disciples,” Platt said. “And, when you make disciples, churches start happening
and churches start growing and churches start multiplying. What happens when
every follower starts doing that? Then we realize, ‘Wow, together we are a part
of a global purpose that has the potential to spread the gospel to every people
group and to every nation.’”
Syamsuddin embodied Platt’s
dream for the future of the church. Syamsuddin made his life count by
fulfilling Christ’s command to train believers. And those believers followed
Christ and trained more in an ongoing process.
“I praise God for Budi, and
I pray for a lot of Budis to be raised up in the churches I lead and in
churches all across our context and our country,” Platt said.
To reach the lost, he said,
people must live out the gospel. Whether they minister to family and friends in
their hometowns or move their businesses 11 time zones to the west, they must
live as Christ commanded.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lane is a
writer for the International Mission Board.)