From poverty to preaching in Indonesia

Dr Dwi Maria Handayani is the Associate Director for Langham Preaching in Asia. It was through being a World Vision sponsored child in a poor Indonesian village that she grew in her faith. Her parents were the first generation in the whole family to be Christians. Dwi is a graduated Langham Scholar, gaining her PhD in 2017.

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population.

Last September, Dwi spoke to New Zealand Christian radio station Rhema about Indonesia and the need for Langham Preaching there.

“We have a lot of languages, different cultures, we have more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia.

Dangerous to share the Gospel

“The country is free: although we are majority Muslim, our Government is actually secular, so we are free to study theology and embrace the Christian faith. But it will be dangerous if we share the Gospel openly because there is opposition to Christianity in some parts of the country.”

“I’m sorry to say that in church sometimes you cannot find any theology. So that’s my concern, that with Langham Preaching we need to bring our faith more visually to the people, not only lock it in the pulpit.

Dwi is a graduated Langham Scholar, gaining her PhD in 2017.

“Let’s bring our theology on the road. Like when Jesus met people on the road. So let’s be a preacher on the road not verbally, but from the way we speak, from the way we treat others, from the way we give, the way we forgive people – that is the Gospel itself. The people need to see us, Indonesian. We live in a very discriminating country, where people are segregated… we as Christians need to break down all those boundaries and I feel that is the real Gospel.

Biblical foundation

“Langham is very strategic… this programme is giving a Biblical foundation for the preachers and I got involved since the beginning. We have trained more than 6,000 preachers from 2011 until now. Many of those preachers come to know Christ through this programme! That was not our intention, we just want to train pastors.

“The Christianity in Indonesia we inherited from the Dutch. So majority is Dutch reformed church. Now it’s going towards the liberal side. I’m happy that Langham is working in those churches… we train them how to preach well, and we bring them closer to Christ. Langham Preaching is not only training how to preach well but also about the life of a preacher.

Dwi was a World Vision sponsored child in a poor Indonesian village, before becoming a theologian.

“The church is growing in Indonesia. We really need to thank God, but it’s also a challenge for us, how to train these people, how to equip them. That’s why Langham Preaching is there. They equip pastors so they can disciple the people. When we train the grassroot people, especially for example in Papua, there are a lot of pastors who have never gone to theological training. But they have to pastor a church otherwise they have to close the churches down.

Relevant to the people

“The material we use is simple and transferrable, because we are aiming at grassroot pastors… they will be able to understand the material. The key is to be clear, faithful and relevant to the context. We don’t just import things from the west, but we contextualise it, so it can be relevant to the life of our people.

“The training needs to address local issues… we are living in Indonesia for a purpose. We don’t have money to contribute, we are not politicians who can change policy – but we have the Bible and the pulpit. That is more powerful than any weapon in the world. So we can change our society, we can transform the people with what we have, the Word of God.

“Through this ministry the church is built and people are equipped. We need more leaders, especially female leaders. We also need more books and materials in our own language.

Hold on to Biblical values

“We know the Gospel because of the Western people who came and had a passion for Indonesia, for people in other parts of the world to come to Christ. And I feel like it’s sad that the western civilisation is moving away from the Gospel. Look at us, we are the fruit of your ministry, from childhood till now. I feel this burden to hold on to the Biblical values that you have from the beginning… please hold on to them. That is the key.”

Langham Preaching’s Global Leadership Team, including Dr Dwi Maria, will be meeting in Zimbabwe later this month. Please pray for fruitful discussions, and for God’s guidance and wisdom as they make decisions about the future.

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