Language Immersion

Posted on February 11, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

Knowing we were returning for a visit to Indonesia, friends still serving here persuaded me to agree to leading a 4-day seminar for students at the Baptist seminary in Semarang on spiritual warfare. After having study guides and a power point presentation translated into Indonesian, I was able to study and review the presentation but approached this opportunity with a great deal of anxiety since it had been 30 years since using the language.

LangImmersion-CongregationAfter a couple of days with personnel serving with Antioch Ministries International in Malang we flew to Central Java and, unexpectedly, was asked to preach in a village church on Sunday morning then in a rally of several house church congregations gathered in the evening. It was good warm-up for the week and reinforced the awkwardness of my language skills. However, there was an amazing anointing and evidence of God’s grace as the fluency and confidence improved day-by-day.

Simultaneous with this lecture series was a meeting of the Evangelism Department of the national Baptist convention with pastors and representatives from associations all over Indonesia. I was asked to lead an evening mission emphasis during the week, but once on the scene that responsibility had been expanded to three presentations in the context of a “missions revival.” I was reminded the keyword of all missionaries is “flexibility.” God blessed and many knelt at the altar (pictured) surrendering their lives to take the gospel to unreached people groups.

LangImmersion-AltarPrayingThe significance of these decisions was enhanced by the fact that a seminary student had recently been murdered for witnessing among a fanatical Muslim people group. This incident had cooled the fervor of students and pastors for assuming the risk that would accompany a deliberate commitment to reach all the people groups of Indonesia.

The convention also agreed unanimously to form a mission-sending body to mobilize and send out missionaries to unreached people groups and even overseas. They also renewed their commitment to train church members in Muslim evangelism.

LangImmersion-Jerry&IndonesiansI am pictured with Pak Joko, the president of the seminary, and Pak Bambang, the chairman of the Department of Evangelism, who graciously hosted us and facilitated these opportunities for ministry. We ended the week totally exhausted but exhilarated to experience such an outpouring of God’s grace and evidence of His power in the lives of those among whom we ministered in Semarang.

LangImmersion-FamilyArriving in Surabaya we welcomed our daughter, Lori, and family from Central Java, returning to her roots after 30 years. We are pictured in front on the house of former missionary colleagues where we spent the night (it is now empty and used as a guesthouse). We would always stay in this house when traveling into the city from Jember, our assigned place of ministry four hours to the east. Lori was in Junior High School when we lived in this city of four million people our last two years in Indonesia, but reporting on that experience will have to await the next post.

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