Since the beginning of March, we have been on a long international trip through different Asian countries. For the first three months, we led a Children at Risk School, and now we are giving seminars in different countries and locations--beautiful places with delightful people and endearing children, but each with its own particular challenges.
Hinduism, fear and poverty
If someone in Bali wants to become a Christian, his or her parents, who are most likely Hindu, will react very negatively. They expect their children to continue the custom of bringing daily sacrifices to appease the spirits of the ancestors; also, when parents pass away, their children must pay for a very expensive cremation ceremony in the local Hindu temple. Most families end up in great debt because of these customs. A large portion of the population is very poor and getting poorer. It´s an almost endless spiral of poverty.
The people in Bali who have continuously offered sacrifices to their ancestors are afraid. They ask themselves, “Who will take care of my spirit after I have died?” For when the next generation becomes Christian, they will stop paying for expensive rituals and daily sacrifices.
The Hindus in Bali have lived their whole lives in fear of the spirits of ancestors and demons. They find it difficult to receive the liberating love of God and the sacrifice that Jesus made for them. It is heartbreaking to see an island that looks like paradise, but where the people are in such bondage.
YWAM in Bali
YWAM has had a beautiful base in Bali for many years, hosting a large group of international missionaries who reach out to children and families in poor communities. Roberto, our friend from Brazil, is part of this base and is trying to start a community center in a poor neighborhood to reach families with God´s transforming love and power.
There are also many Indonesian staff on this base, and some of them became our students, together with people from local churches and from other YWAM bases. One person even came all the way from Papua New Guinea! For this very diverse group, we gave a two-week seminar about how to work with Children at Risk. On the weekend, they put some of the things they had learned into practice when a group of children were invited to the base. The students had prepared an attractive children’s program and it worked wonderfully well!
“This is the first time I really enjoyed doing a children’s program--it is a pity it is already finished,” said one of them.
“This was just thrilling and fulfilling,” exclaimed another.
After two very intense weeks, we finished with a night of thanksgiving. One of the Indonesian students, who had lived on the streets as a child and teenager, gave a testimony:
“I have learned so much about working with children at risk. I will do many things differently from now on. But besides all that I learned, I also received lots of healing of some deep emotional and spiritual wounds. I am so thankful to the Lord!”
We so enjoyed our time there, but after this evening, it was time to catch the next plane to Jakarta.
Many people in Bali had told us how different Jakarta was from Bali, and we could already see that as we flew over the city. The capital of Bali, having no high rises, looks like an inflated village; however, Jakarta is obviously a mega city with a sea of high rises and a population of around 20 million people. Instead of the many Hindu temples, here there were lots of mosques. Walking through the city, we could see the strong Muslim influence.
In 2016 YWAM launched a small pioneer team in heart of Jakarta. They live in an old wooden house with steep stairs that dates back to the time when Jakarta was called Batavia City, built by the Dutch who had colonized Indonesia.
Our students here were the missionaries on staff, all Indonesian, one girl who works on a YWAM team in Thailand, as well as some people from local churches and organizations. They were so eager to learn more about children at risk that they had scheduled classes in the morning, afternoon and evening! Little time to catch our breath :) But we loved it! It was very meaningful (and fun!) to teach such a motivated group.
Just to give you an idea about the classes we give during such a seminar, have a look on the page "teachings" on this blog or click on this link, and you´ll find a list of teachings.
Cebu in the Philippines
Now we have arrived in the city of Cebu in the Philippines, where we will be conducting our last seminar on this extended Asia trip. This country has more in common with Brazil than any other place we have been so far. It was colonized by a Catholic country, it has problems with drugs and corruption, and there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor.
We are staying on a beautiful YWAM base which sends teams out to nine different locations, reaching children in poor neighborhoods, under bridges, and in slums, using any open area they can find.
They would like to have a complete Children at Risk school here in the Philippines to train their staff, and we are trying to see how this could quickly become a reality. We are praying that this school will then be multiplied into different locations in Asia; the need among children is immense.
And how are things in Brazil?
Recently we received some wonderful news from Brazil. The base we started in Belo Horizonte and led for 27 years (until 2013) has just celebrated its 30th anniversary! So many blessings to recount over the last 30 years. So many children and families transformed. We praise God for his faithfulness. So much to be thankful for!
In other news from Brazil, the church in Rio, which last year housed our 8-month DTS/Children at Risk School, sent us some beautiful photos from the children’s program started by our students in the very poor community behind the church. It continues to grow, and whole families are being changed through the love of God.
January 2018: Children at Risk School in Holland
When we arrive in Holland this September, we will prepare for the upcoming European Children at Risk School that will have a special focus on refugee children. It will start January 10, 2018 at the YWAM Heidebeek (Holland) base. The lectures will all be given in English. After the 3-month lecture phase, the students will go on outreach, most probably to a refugee camp in southern Europe or the Middle East.
Please help us promote this school, so we will get the right students. Join us in prayer, and help us pass the information on to potential students. For further information, please go to the YWAM Heidebeek website: http://ywamheidebeek.org/nl/car/
Thanks for standing with us in this!
With lots of love from Johan and Jeannette
- Thank God for our restored health during this trip.
- Pray for the Hindu families in Bali that live in fear and bondage. That the love they see in Christians may convince them of the hope Christ offers.
- Thank God for the new pioneering team in Jakarta.
- Pray for them, that God would give the right strategies to share God’s love with the people in their community and city.
- Pray for the children in Cebu, that they may really get to know the Lord Jesus from a very early age.
- Thank God for all the eager students with whom we could share during this trip.
- Pray for multiplication of Children at Risk schools in Asia.
- Give thanks that the work in Brazil continues so well.
- Pray for the next Children at Risk school in Holland.
With lots of love from Johan and Jeannette