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5. My Three Years in Jakarta, Indonesia

Chapter 5

My Three Years in Jakarta, Indonesia

The beginning of a new life in Jakarta, Indonesia

In August 1985, Bong and I both graduated from our studies. We never felt that we would stay back in Canada. The main reason was that Canada is extremely cold during the winter months. I had a hard time surviving when the temperature went below -30 degrees Celsius. So we decided to return to our respective homelands. Bong got back to Indonesia and I returned to Malaysia. We were separated for more than two years before we got married in December 1987.

Before I moved over to Jakarta, Indonesia, I thought that the environment over there would be quite similar to that of Malaysia. But after staying in Indonesia for a time, I realized it wasn’t as I had perceived it. Living in Indonesia, we con­tinued to seek God’s will to be fulfilled in our lives. We found a church near my in-law’s house to worship God. It was known as Kelapa Gading Evangelistic Church.

During the first few months of my stay in Jakarta, I faced lots of difficulty in understanding and communicating in Bahasa Indonesia. I could barely communicate with any­one. Most of the time I was tongue-tied. Life was extremely challenging when Bahasa Indonesia was the main medium of communication in Indonesia. Can you imagine that over the last twenty-six years I had been speaking mostly in English and Mandarin but now I had to switch to speaking a brand-new language in Indonesia? That was absolutely unthinkable! It was a huge challenge for me.

In my struggles I had to plead before God for His mercy and grace to sustain me during my days in Indonesia. I asked God to remove the obstacles which were standing in my way. Amazingly, I experienced God’s transformation power at work within me. He had removed my dislike for Bahasa, be it Bahasa Malaysia or Bahasa Indonesia. I started learning Bahasa Indonesia, which was quite diffe­rent from Bahasa Malaysia. I learned it mostly by reading the newspapers and watching some TV programs. In those days, my Bahasa Indonesia dictionary was my best companion.

How true it is, that slow and steady wins the race! Eventually God enabled me to understand at least 80 to 90% of the weekly Sunday sermons. I also began to read the Bahasa Indonesia Bible with the help of my dictionary in order to equip myself for my future service to our God Yahweh.

After settling down in our new church for some time, God gave us another new mission. Because Bong and I had some experience in serving with the Youth Group in Canada, our church pastor thought it would be great if someone with this kind of experience could help out in managing a Youth Group. So our pastor decided to engage both of us to start a Youth Fellowship. With a grateful heart, we started a Youth Fellowship which consisted of mainly students and young working adults. We started off with a group of 15 young adults.

We were thankful to God for calling us to serve Him. Amazingly, Bong served as the Chairman of the Youth Fellowship and I was in charge of the Singspiration Ministry, just as how it was when we were in Ottawa Chinese Bible Church, Canada. With my talent in singing, I served faithfully as a song leader during my three years’ stay in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Around June 1988, my church’s Christmas Planning Committee decided to stage a drama performance for that year’s Christmas event which will be performed by the teenagers from the Teenage Fellowship. The Fellowship’s group leader came to know of my talent in painting. She approached me and asked if I would be willing to paint a large canvas backdrop which will be hung across the stage for their drama performance. I had never ever dreamed that I would be engaged in such a unique project. Much to my delight, I was given the chance to paint once again.

“The Nativity Story,” also known as “The Christmas Story” or “The Nativity of Jesus,” is reenacted in the Christmas celebration of many churches to tell the story of how Jesus came into this earth. Throughout the many cen­turies of Christianity, the Christmas story has developed into a yearly tradition and is central to the celebration of Christmas in the Christian faith.

My heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving to Yahweh God for granting me the opportunity to paint a large can­vas backdrop of the Nativity scene for our church drama performance that year. I started my painting project in July 1988, and it took me approximately 50 days to complete it.

Besides painting the large canvas backdrop of The Nativity Scene, I was given the task of designing the cover of the invitation brochure for our Christmas event. Oh what joy! Oh how marvelous it was to be given the oppor­tunity to serve our most high God Yahweh in this manner!

It was Yahweh God who had rekindled my passion for painting and drawing. Truly, I felt honored to do it for the glory of God! Indeed, glory be to God for His mercy and love! My dream to become an artist did not come true, but most importantly I could finally serve God through my artistic talent. That brought me tremendous joy! I felt the blessings of God overflowing!

Watercolor painting Christmas Card (November 2014)


God’s grace is always sufficient for us

In our time in Indonesia, I maintained my Malaysian citizen­ship. As I am proficient in Mandarin, I could easily find jobs in companies which were looking for employees fluent in Mandarin. But in the end, I was not offered any job because it was illegal to employ foreigners. After many failed attempts, I had no choice but to accept God’s will for me as a full-time homemaker. So Bong had to work harder as he was the sole breadwinner. Life was tough those days because we could barely make ends meet with Bong’s low monthly income.

One day, we ran into deficit. In those gloomy days, God’s gentle reminder came in timely fashion. I read the Word of God in Matthew 7 verse 7 which says,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matt. 7:7 ESV)

So, with that assurance from the Word of God, we prayed and looked to Yahweh God for His provision. One sunny afternoon, out of the blue my heart desired to spend some time reading. In actual fact, I had not read any book in a long while. So I decided to browse through my collection of books. One of the titles caught my atten­tion. I picked it up and flipped through its pages, and lo and behold, I found some money in that book. It was exactly the amount we needed. Praise God!

I quickly asked Bong, “Did you put the money here?” He said, “No, I didn’t. Who on earth would use a bank note as a bookmark?” I thought, “That makes absolute sense. Bong was right to say that!” Oh wow! Once again, our God Yahweh had met our needs. He carried us through another trial. Indeed, His grace is sufficient for us. He is forever faithful! Oh how I thank Yahweh God for His unfailing love.


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