REVIVAL IN INDONESIA
ASIA'S GREAT OPPORTUN1TY
Since the original publication of this book in Germany, I have been able to make a further visit to South East Asia, the essence of which is described in the following pages. Within them, you will find an account of a series of experiences that have moved me most deeply. An interval of 16 months separates the events of the previous chapters from those recorded here. We are, thereby, presented with a fresh survey of what is currently taking place in the Far East, a survey that will cause us to hold our breath in suspense.
In the European Olympic Games, a custom still persists today of a relay of runners who set out from the ancient Greek town of Olympia, where the original games were held, by whom the Olympic flame is transferred from torch to torch until it reaches its final destination. The runners, in this relay, carry the flame from country to country and from continent to continent to the city in which the Games are to be held.
Here, in this procession of torches, we find an illustration of the spreading of the gospel message. Some 1,900 years ago the good news began to be relayed around the world. The first station consisted of the lands of the Mediterranean area during the time of the Roman Empire. Rome stood at that time at the central point of the then known world. For this reason, as we have already hinted at in the previous chapters, it was destined to become one of the first centres from which the gospel message was spread abroad.
The inner decay of the Christian Church was not long in following the collapse of the Roman Empire. The so–called vicar of Christ, by now, had little in common with his Lord. The spiritual centre of Christianity was, therefore, to be gradually transferred to central Europe. And so, the flame journeyed on. The missionary work of people like Columba, Pirmin, Boniface, Ansverus and numerous others of the Teutonic race, prepared the ground for the new area of civilization under whose protection the gospel was to be propagated further. The Reformation, therefore, with its two main branches of Calvin and Luther, introduces us to the second station in the relay of torches which began at Pentecost.
The theological renewal at the time of the Reformation was closely followed by a spiritual revival in the form of the Pietist movement. In this way, men like Spener, Francke and Zinzendorf became midwives to a spiritual deepening and supplementing of the Reformation faith. The Pietist movement was destined to become the scriptural seedbed of the many missionary ventures of the 18th and 19th centuries. For 350 years Germany, together with Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, whose religious history is closely connected with hers, remained the spiritual centre for the propagation of the Christian message.
But, God's will was that the flame of the gospel be carried further still. Every race and every continent was to be given its opportunity. The 18th and 19th centuries, also, saw the rise of the British Empire. The fruit of this development is evidenced today by the fact that one can travel almost anywhere in the world using English as the Língua Franca. This has been of an enormous help to both the missionaries and the gospel. It is easy to see why the torch was to be transferred to the English–speaking world, for in this way, the whole globe lay open to the message of Christ. This third major centre of the good news embraced lands on either side of the Atlantic. In Britain, the names of men like Wesley, Booth, Spurgeon, George Müller and Hudson Taylor shone in the darkness, as God raised each of these men up to be the founder of some great Christian movement. In America, those chosen and used by God to serve as His tools included C. H. Finney, Moody, Dr. Torrey and many others. As we think of Billy Graham today, it almost seems as if he is the last great light to shine from this Anglo–American missionary centre. The torch must continue its onward march.
Today, as we move further into the second half of the 20th century, the world is facing a massive upheaval. The neo–rationalistic philosophical and theological outlook has almost extinguished the light of the gospel in the Western world. The centre of gravity is, therefore, shifting eastward to Asia. But those familiar with the history of Africa and Asia will wonder why Africa is seemingly overlooked in our story. There is a reason. Africa has already experienced a mighty awakening in the form of the Uganda revival. This, too, gave birth to a number of evangelists and missionaries, perhaps the most well–known being William Nagenda. However, the Uganda revival was neither privileged nor destined to send a host of missionaries into other parts of the world. It possessed but a limited power to radiate the gospel to other continents. Why was this? Although it is not easy to talk about the negative side, it must be admitted that the Christians in Uganda suffer from a rather unhappy characteristic. They are simply too sure of themselves. A Japanese Christian, Professor Shimizu, once said to me, "I found that the attitude of the Christians out there was a little repugnant. They didn't seem to be ready to accept anything from another brother, although they expected other Christians to listen to them." This has been my own impression on a number of occasions too. When the leading Christians lose their humility, a revival rapidly goes downhill. This seems to be the reason why Uganda has been unable to reach out successfully and evangelize the other continents.
In Indonesia, however, the circumstances are better. The revival there, although only four years old, is already sending out many missionaries into other parts of the world. And so, a fourth great centre for spreading the gospel message is developing. The relay of torches has probably, with this fourth station in the Asiatic world, arrived at its most crucial yet. Over one thousand million people are living today in Asia, and every one of them needs to get hold of the gospel in order to avoid being ruined and destroyed by the massive bulwarks of darkness found in their midst. It is possible that Asia is to be the last great missionary centre before the second coming of Christ. A gradual shifting is, therefore, taking place from West to the East. The spiritual strength of the West is rapidly declining. Many missionary societies have already lost the spiritual authority they once possessed, and yet, too often they remain unhappily oblivious of this fact. Others are merely a “smoking flax”, and are near to being extinguished. Indeed, one of the most well–known spiritual leaders of Asia has been heard to say, "In the last century the West sent many renowned missionary workers to us. This era, however, has almost passed. For every sound Western missionary who arrives here today, we receive another two with an unscriptural theology and no commission from the Lord." This is one of the results of having so many modern theologians teaching and lecturing in the missionary colleges of the West. What good can come of this? While I was actually writing this account in the Far East, the president of a missionary college here said to me, "When we send our enthusiastic young missionary recruits to the West in order to receive further theological training, they return having lost almost all the inner spiritual power that they ever had. Western theology simply destroys a Christian's faith, and, instead of building him up, robs him of his power." As a result of this, the Asian Christians are being forced to begin to train their young people themselves. They have had to sever themselves from the West and found their own colleges in which, if they hope to retain the young Christian's faith, they have to forbid the teaching of Western theology.
Asia's time is approaching. No other continent has drunk so deeply of the blood of Christians martyrs. Asia's soil is saturated with blood. In every Communist country of the world, the cries of the saints reach up to heaven. Is God unable to hear? Surely not, the revival in Indonesia is already His answer. This new centre of missionary activity is already sending out teams of evangelists to Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, Germany and other countries. There is, obviously, no lack of opposition; yet, this is all part and parcel of the growth of the Kingdom of God.
I. THE BULWARKS OF DARKNESS
In South East Asia, one finds many strongholds acting as blockades to the gospel message. The chief fortress of darkness, however, is Communism, no matter whether it appears in a Chinese, Russian or neutral garb. The present population explosion and the threatening world food shortage, only serve to promote its growth. The very spirits of hell have become incarnate within this political system. This can be supported by examples from many reliable sources. For example, in one Communist prison, the guards arranged a horrifying and blasphemous ceremony. A Christian minister was forced, during a communion service, to distribute excrement and urine to the communicants. This is simultaneously a case of both blasphemy and torture. What a revelation of Satan! And this is not just an isolated case. One can read of further examples in the books written by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a man who has personally witnessed similar atrocities in Communist prisons. There can be no doubt at all about the Satanic origin of these tortures.
The second bulwark resisting the Christian missionary work in Asia is the religions of the East, particularly Islam. The Moslem faith has experienced a renaissance of a more aggressive outlook. In the past, in many areas, Moslems had developed a certain tolerance. Today, however, although many of the younger Moslems are losing interest in their mother religion, there is, nevertheless, a growing hostility towards other faiths among the more convinced disciples of Mohammed. Having mentioned this already, we will content ourselves by simply quoting a few more recent examples which illustrate this fact.
On the 1st October 1967, 29 churches and church buildings were destroyed on the island of Celebes by a large crowd of Moslems in a single night. In spite of the fact that a church organ was burnt in front of his house, a president of the police living in the neighbourhood of one of the churches, took not the slightest bit of notice of what was happening.
In northern Sumatra, a number of acts of persecution took place against the Christians in 1968. On the island of Banjak, 300 Christians were threatened with death if they did not leave the island immediately or accept the Moslem faith. Although some 25 Christians capitulated, the remainder fled to the nearby island of Nais, leaving behind all their worldly goods.
In the same year, the Moslems destroyed the Christian church in the village of Asahan. The Batak, a Christian tribe who outnumber the Moslems on the island, were so furious that they destroyed two of the island's mosques in revenge. One can understand why they reacted like this, but, at the same time, it was not scriptural, and such a reaction would never have occurred in the revival area itself. As Christians, we must never retaliate. In fact, this retaliation merely supplied the Moslems with fresh material for their anti–Christian propaganda. For the Batak, it was a disastrous reaction, because it simply illustrated how far away they are from the real teachings of Christ.
In the months of September and October 1968 in southern Sumatra, four Christians were killed by some Moslems in Marta Pura. They had only recently been converted to Christianity from the Islamic faith, but they had had to pay for their conversion with their lives. However, their sacrifice was not in vain. Shortly after the death of these four Christian witnesses, 60 other Moslems were converted. The last specific act of persecution in 1968 was a Moslem attack on a church in Kedini in East Java, when the building was simply burnt to the ground.
The year 1969 immediately ushered in a new series of Moslem attacks on the churches in the area. On January 17th, the Dutch Reformed Church in Djatibarung (West Java) was destroyed. The next blow fell in Slipi, a suburb of Djakarta, on the 28th April. Within the space of two hours, a newly constructed church was destroyed by a mob of some 500 Moslems. Although, as before, a general of the army was living only 50 yards away, he was, to quote, "completely unaware of the disturbance." I have visited the site of the ruined church. The building had only been completed two months prior to the attack. Without any form of outside help, the Christians had managed to raise over £3,000 to have the church erected and, for the poor Indonesian Christians, this had been an enormous sacrifice. But, on top of this, since the attack the authorities have refused all permission for them to begin rebuilding.
The minister who founded this church in Slipi is at the same time pastor of another three congregations. These, too, have become the targets of Moslem attacks. He is prevented from preaching at one of the meeting places because the Moslems in the neighbourhood have threatened to use force to stop any services being held there. At another of his churches, the Moslems have erected their own mosque on a site immediately adjacent to the church building. Woe to the Christians if they had attempted to do the same!
My host, who is the minister of the largest church in the town, has his own church lit by bright flood lights day and night. "We just don't know when we'll be next on the list", he told me.
The third bulwark of darkness erected in Asia against the Christian faith is occultism. The Eastern religions, together with animism, are so entwined with magic and spiritism that the demonic forces often reach deep within the Christian churches themselves. Many nominal Christians, although paying lip service to the Bible, still retain their old fetishes, protective spells, and healing magic, to which they always return when danger threatens or when they are in need.
The revival on Timor began with the islanders bringing their fetishes out of their houses and burning them. Very briefly, we can tell the story of how just one of the nominal Christians was delivered from his bondage to fetishes. Mark, a young man of 26, had witnessed some tremendous events during the revival, but, he had been left completely untouched by them at first. For a number of years, he had been an active charmer, and many people had been in the habit of turning to him when they had needed help. Finally, however, the Lord met him in the spring of 1969 and gave him a direct revelation. One evening, at about 6 o'clock, Mark saw a shining figure approaching him. He fell to the ground and lost consciousness, and lay there as if dead for 14 hours. Ants crawled into his mouth and eyes and ears, and his relatives were convinced that he had died. The next morning, though, at about 8 o'clock he regained consciousness. He told the people of the dreadful things he had experienced. He had been taken to the very gates of hell. A horse, which had been covered with blood, and on which numerous people had been sitting, had galloped past him. Then, a voice had called out, "This horse carries to hell people who have not forsaken their sorceries." He had had other visions which had likewise terrified him. After this dreadful experience, he burnt all his charms and fetishes. The Lord, then, called him to the special task of being a team leader. I was able to meet this brother myself when I visited the area in which he lives.
In addition to these bulwarks of darkness, a new threat is appearing in South East Asia, which I have referred to already on several occasions. By this, I mean the deadly modern disease of Western intellectualism and destructive biblical criticism. Some Christian students recounted to me how they were forced to leave the theological college in D. for fear of being robbed of their faith. In K. they face the same problem, where both a Dutch and a German theologian teach the present day brand of modern theology. On the very island on which the Lord has revealed himself so mightily, Satan has established his own seminary! Because of this, the Christian students in the revival area were forced to arrange a conference at which to decide what their attitude should be to this new but very real threat.
Another difficulty facing the genuine work of Christ in Asia today is the missionary practices of the Catholic Church. In this so–called age of ecumenicalism, some almost unbelievable things are taking place. As this report was being written, the moderator of the Reformed Church told our international team of some terrible events which had occurred quite recently. He gave us some examples of the Catholic intolerance in the area, and described instances of the unspiritual altitudes of the Catholic missionaries working here. In the northern part of the island, the Catholics put the following scheme into practice: they renamed some 60,000 animists in the area, baptised them, and then registered them as members of the Catholic Church. Yet, not one of the 60,000 animists accepted Christ as a result of his registration. I repeat, this was reported to me by the actual church authorities on the island and can, therefore, not be looked upon as just a piece of malicious anti–Catholic propaganda. We shall be hearing more about the actions of these newly baptised Catholics a little later.
We can see that Asia bleeds from many wounds. Yet, the glorified Lord has ignited a fire in Indonesia which will continue to burn till He returns to this earth again. In the past, the messengers of the cross used to travel from Europe and America to the East. Today, we find our Asian brothers and evangelists journeying west to a civilization which has been drained of all its power by rationalism.
II. THE BIRTH OF A BOOK
Let us turn for a few moments away from these meaty matters, to a story of a lighter nature. Much of this book was born in a region close to the equator under a burning tropical sun. A shirt and a pair of trousers is already too much clothing for the type of climate one finds here. Mosquitoes and other insects buzz around my arms and feet. A glass of lukewarm water stands on the primitive table beside me. Since leaving Germany, not a single cold drink has wetted my lips. Wherever I have travelled the only refreshment available has been a glass of either hot or lukewarm water. Brown–skinned native children stand around the little table at which I am working, staring in amazement at the portable typewriter set before me. They have never seen anything like it before. The noise of their chatter and laughter blends with the sound of the older natives sitting nearby conversing loudly with one another. A short distance away a group of some 25 people are singing revival hymns and clapping their hands in tune to the music. A weak paraffin lamp, which keeps going out, stands on the table beside me. I take some cream and rub it into my skin to repel the insects, and try to keep the noise out of my head by putting ear plugs into my ears. But, on top of all this, I feel almost overcome by exhaustion through having attended so many meetings. And, some of these have lasted for as many as 12 hours at a time. What an effort it is to try to concentrate! I find it almost impossible to put my thoughts down in an orderly fashion on the paper in front of me.
III. THE BIBLE AND THE IRON CURTAIN
The Communist beast which has risen from the very abyss itself has lain for many years over Asia, and it smothers almost every move which is made in the area in the name of freedom. Its claws continue to grope towards those few lands which, as yet, have withstood the pressure it puts upon them. Communism's lustful aim includes, not only the subjugation of all the peace–loving peoples of the world, but also the extinction of the Church of Christ.
With God's help, I have been enabled, in my travels, to visit almost every country in the Far East. Wherever one goes, one is faced with a different set of needs. In one area, the problem consists of a lack of rice, in another a lack of employment; but, in every single country (with the exception of Ceylon) one finds a common need for the Bible, the printed Word of God.
This famine of God's Word has been particularly laid on my heart with regard to one of the countries of South East Asia. I cannot mention any names for fear of endangering the Christians working in the area. Countries under Communist rule all over the world allow neither Bibles nor Christian literature to cross their borders. However, in order to dupe the West, a few Bible colleges are allowed to remain open here and there. But, even in these, the same shortage of Scriptures exists. In the country I am particularly thinking of, there is only about one Bible for every six students, and so, when their training is ended, they are forced to leave with nothing to aid them in their ministry save those portions of Scripture they have managed to copy out while at college. "Isn't it possible to get Bibles to these people?" I asked. "Yes," a missionary replied, "the British and Foreign Bible Society has already printed Bibles in their language. The unhappy thing is that they are still lying around in London, since it's illegal to import them into the country." "Hasn't anyone thought of a way of getting the Bibles to the people who need them?" "Oh yes," he replied again, "500 have already been sent." He then went on to tell me excitedly how the Bibles had finally found their way into the country - unfortunately the method used cannot be described at the present time. Suffice it to say that the missionary has learnt from the Vietcong how to cross frontiers which seem almost impossible to cross. Hatred is not the only emotion that can cause one to be inventive, for a love for Christ and his Church is even better at opening doors where no doors seem to exist. Desiring to know more, I questioned the missionary further, "How many more Bibles do you need, and do you know what they would cost?" "Well, we could use a further 500 Bibles immediately, and maybe up to 10,000 New Testaments," he replied. "We could get these through the so–called iron curtain. Concerning the price, though, the Bibles from London cost about £1 each, but the New Testaments are a lot cheaper."
The idea of taking Bibles through the iron, or red curtain as it really is, gave me no rest. A few mornings later, I went and found the missionary again and said to him, "I’ll make you a promise. I and my fellow helpers from Germany and Switzerland will supply you with these Bibles and New Testaments without cost." And so we agreed: the Bibles should be ordered from London while the New Testaments should be printed in either India or Hong Kong in order to allay the cost.
Will you pray for the success of this campaign? Our one desire as Christians should be that the message of our Lord and Master be spread throughout the world, and this includes those places where man has apparently forbidden its entry.
IV. A VICTIM OF THE RELIGIOUS BEAST
In the book of Revelation, we read, in chapter 13, of the beast and the false prophet which will one day appear on this earth. These are destined to terrorize mankind in the last days. This Satanic alliance represents in effect the union between on the one hand a political, and on the other hand a religious power. It is to be an 'arranged marriage' between Church and State, between the beast of Communism and the beast of religion.
It would be an over–simplification to equate the religious beast with the Catholic Church. Religious fanaticism exists as much among Protestants as among Catholics. But, basically, every religion which excludes the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit is, in the last analysis, Satanic. By their fruits you shall know them.
Some years ago, I made a number of visits to the Latin–American countries where the majority of people subscribe to the Catholic faith. In Colombia, which could almost be called the Spain of South America, I met a missionary who told me the following story. A Protestant evangelist was pulled out of his bed one night and kidnapped in full view of his wife. A few weeks later, the evangelical Christians received some small packets containing dried flesh. The duplicated letters which accompanied the packets claimed that the flesh was, in fact, the flesh of the kidnapped man. This claim was followed by the threat that anyone not prepared to forsake the Protestant faith and return to the Catholic Church - outside of which there was no salvation - could expect a similar fate. Of course, it could not be proved that what was in the packets was the kidnapped man's flesh but, whatever the case, he was never seen again. The missionary affirmed, "I can guarantee, as a Christian, the truth of the story I have just told you."
Since this particular episode, terrorist acts in Colombia against Protestant Christians have on the whole ceased, but this is mainly due to the adverse publicity they received, and the disapproval expressed by certain governments concerning such persecution. However, the religious beast is still very much alive, and it continues to raise its head whenever the time is right.
In South East Asia, a fresh blow was struck on the 28th March 1969. The facts were confirmed in the court case which followed. There can be no doubt at all about the actual validity of this report.
To avoid the possibility of any form of revenge being taken on those involved, the names of the people and the places will be omitted. However, let it be said, I not only wrote the story in the country in which the crime took place, but I have also preached on more than one occasion at the actual home town of the victim himself.
After much prayer and preparation, a group of Bible students felt compelled by the Lord to go and preach the gospel in a Catholic area near the country's border. Many people may immediately retort: "Well, that was wrong to start with. You don't need to send Protestant missionaries into an area where a Catholic church already exists!" Yet, in answer to this, no one would be so foolish as to suggest that all the people living near a Catholic church, or even near a Protestant church, will automatically be Christians. Christ's disciples are always in the minority. "The way is narrow which leads to life, and few there be who find it," said Jesus. Nominal Christians always need to be evangelized in the hope that some may be converted.
And so, the young soldiers of the cross set out, travelling from one Catholic village to another. They went, from house to house, inviting the people to their meetings, and the Lord blessed their work. In each village there were those who found the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. But, this stirred up the anger of the leading men in the villages, and a form of denominational hatred broke out - a hatred which never comes from above, but from below.
After a campaign lasting for several weeks, the group decided to return home. One of them, however, we can call him Stephen, said to his friends, "Last night the Lord told me that I must continue working here on my own. I must stay and evangelize the area more." The other Christians respected his decision, and so, after a long period of prayer together, they finally parted. Nevertheless, although they left their brother behind, they continued to remember him in their prayers.
In his subsequent ministry, Stephen received confirmation that his decision had been in line with the will of God, and the Lord used him mightily in his service.
According to the local by–laws, Stephen had to inform the mayor of each village of his presence before he could start his work. In one of the border villages, the elders called the local council together. After a lengthy discussion in a dialect which Stephen could not understand, they called for six men who, they told him, were to accompany him to the next village. After leaving the village and walking for a distance of about three miles, Stephen sensed an evil force about him. Stopping, he raised his hands into the air and started to pray. There was a flash as one of the six men struck at him with a bush knife, cutting off the fingers of his praying hands. A second blow followed which severed a hand from one of his arms. Stephen sank momentarily to the ground. Then, with renewed strength, he raised his bloody stump into the sky and started praying again. At this moment a third blow struck the back of his neck killing him instantly. His body was then dragged into the bush and hastily covered with earth.
But, the murder could not be hidden. Before the day broke out, the whole village knew about it. Summoning the villagers, therefore, the mayor explained to them that the reason Stephen had been killed was because he had been a Communist. He went on to warn them, saying, “If anyone talks about this outside the village, he'll be killed. No one else is to know what has happened."
However, in spite of the warning, within a few days an account of the crime reached the police station in the nearest town. The note included, not only a sketch of the place where the body was hidden, but also the names of all those who had taken part in the assassination. The message had been left unsigned; it would have been too dangerous to have done otherwise.
From the information they had received, the police soon found the body of the murdered missionary. Since the crime had been instigated by the Catholics, the Protestant police president ordered six Protestant policemen to take part in the arrests and so prevent the people involved escaping. At sunrise the next day, the police surrounded the mayor's house. They told him to summon all who had either planned or taken part in the crime. In this way, everyone involved was arrested and, together with the mayor, imprisoned in the district jail. At the time of this writing, they were still awaiting trial.
In their confessions, the murderers described their crime minutely and claimed that they had been urged to commit the murder on religious grounds by the village elders.
The most significant thing for the Christians, however, was not so much the confessions of those involved, as the actual circumstances surrounding Stephen's death. As he had been cut down by the knives of those accompanying him, not one cry of pain had crossed his lips. With no thought of revenge in his mind he had departed to be with his Lord in a spirit of prayer and utter peace, content to know that his Saviour had counted him worthy of suffering for His sake.
And so another martyr has been added to the list in South East Asia. But, the seed will surely bear fruit, as it did with that other Stephen who was stoned to death outside the walls of Jerusalem so long ago. "Lord, do not hold this sin against them", must surely have been the cry of both.
When Stephen's body was finally recovered, a small sensation ensued. Although the feet had remained ex–posed in the hastily dug grave, the process of decomposition was not so far advanced as is usually the case in the hot tropical climate of the country. This news soon spread around the Catholic village and many of the people began to beat their breasts, saying, "We have killed a saint, we have killed a saint."
V. IN THE INDONESIAN REVIVAL AREA A SECOND TIME
I was first able to visit this area in which the fire of God has been lit in 1968. Ever since that time, my heart has longed after the work which God is currently doing in Indonesia.
In the spring of 1969, I had the great joy of being together with Pak Elias and David Simeon when they visited Germany and spoke at the meetings I had arranged for them in Stuttgart and Bretten. Although on both occasions there was insufficient room in the actual meeting places for all those who had come to listen to the messages, it was a source of even greater joy when Pak Elias told me that he would be willing to accompany me to the centre of the revival area on Timor later in the year. I find it almost impossible to put into words the events I have subsequently been able to witness and experience and, apart from my own conversion in 1930, I look upon this second visit to the Indonesian revival area as the greatest spiritual event of my life.
As a prelude to our trip, I was able to participate in yet another Christian conference in East Java. Daily, the people present were brought face to face with the Lord Jesus. The climax was reached at the valedictory service at the end of the conference which lasted for more than nine hours.
In Europe, three hours would have been quite enough for me at any meeting. Yet, the strange thing was, even after nine hours, I was neither tired nor exhausted. In fact, I was rather quickened. David Simeon and his brother talked with me after the meeting, and I commented to them about this fact. "It's the spiritual atmosphere," I said. "There's a complete difference between an atmosphere which drains your strength away and one which renews it. In the West, many missionary conferences, instead of quickening a person, have an atmosphere about them which leaves one exhausted afterwards."
In the revival area, the believers attending these conference meetings, which can last anything up to ten or even twelve hours a day, are supplied with a spiritual manna by God's angels themselves. It is true that we know from the Bible that things of this nature have happened in the past, but today their occurrence is rare. Timor, however, is an exception.
One of the people I was privileged to meet on Timor was Philip, who was also a native of this island. A spiritual atmosphere seemed to radiate from this humble and simple servant of Christ. I was unable to obtain his story from himself, since, like many of the islanders, he spoke little about his own experiences, but rather of the Lord. His friends and fellow workers, however, had some tremendous stories to tell. Philip is the leader of Team 36. On one occasion, when he arrived at a village with ten of his team members intending to hold a mission there, he was met by the minister of the local Reformed church and was told, "It's no use staying here, the village is very poor, and there is simply not enough food for you and your friends."
The team was driven to prayer, and they asked their Lord, "Lord, are we to stay here, or to move on?" "I have brought you," replied the Lord, "and so I will supply your needs while you stay."
Next morning, very early, they commenced their first meeting which lasted until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. By then, the young missionaries were feeling hungry, for they had had nothing to eat since the previous day. Turning to the Lord again in prayer, they asked Him to take care of their needs. "Fetch the minister and the local elders and leading Christians together," the Lord commanded them. They obeyed, and subsequently 39 of the local Christians gathered with them to pray. Suddenly, they had a vision, and they saw before them a table spread with a white cloth and covered with foods of every sort. Every one of the fifty people present saw the same vision. Next, some hands appeared which distributed the food richly among them. It was then that the real miracle took place. They found that, as they put the food into their mouths, they really had something to chew. It was now real. That evening the experience was repeated, and during the three days in which the team stayed at the village, the miracle was repeated on altogether eight different occasions. The local minister, the church elders, and other leading Christians in the area, as well as the eleven members of the team, were all witnesses of this event.
We have, in the Bible, a record of the feeding of the four and the five thousand. Now from Timor comes the feeding of the fifty. But, there are other examples of how the Lord has supplied the daily bread of his messengers.
Neither the rationalists nor the modernists of today will be able to accept what is to follow. However, in this instance, it is not their opinion that really matters, for their attitude leads them to reject every miraculous event recorded in the Bible and elsewhere. The only advice I can give to such people is, "Come and see for yourselves." The reason for my own visit to Timor was that I, too, might be able to share in the Lord's revelation of himself there, and if God so will, this will not have been my last visit to the area. It is true that one is able to feel the Lord's presence in every corner of this world if one has surrendered one's life to him, but Timor has become a present day 'mount of transfiguration'.
The Wine of God
We now come to a series of miracles which are astounding Christians throughout the world. At the time of writing, the miracle which occurred first at Cana in Galilee has been repeated on Timor already on eight occasions.
We will turn first of all to a first–hand account from the leader of the church in the central region of the island. Pastor Joseph is a member of the Reformed church and received his theological training in the West. During the conference in July 1969, he gave a complete account of the events as they had happened, before a group of some 120 missionaries and students drawn from all four continents. The day was in fact July 12th. I was personally present at the time and afterwards received a translation of his report in English. Such details as these are necessary since the events we are about to describe are truly stupendous. I have actually preached now, on several occasions, in the church in Soe where the miracle occurred, and have ascertained that the facts stand up to investigation. But now, let us listen to the report of Superintendent Joseph himself.
No vines grow on the island of Timor, and so wine made from grapes just does not exist there. The importing of wine is also impossible on account of the extreme poverty of the island's inhabitants. However, there exists a form of palm–wine to which many of the natives are addicted on account of its high alcoholic content. Before the revival, there was, indeed, much alcoholism on the island, but as the Spirit of God took hold of the people, many of them broke away with their wine and spirit flasks and gave up their evil habit. In addition to this, many of the stalls at which alcohol was sold were also smashed to pieces. Every one of the converts on Timor renounced his habit of drinking palm–wine.
This, however, raised some serious problems in the life of the church. The Reformed Church had always used palm–wine during its communion services. Since, therefore, the churches were regularly pervaded with the smell of alcohol when they celebrated communion, the custom was a great source of temptation to those who had been freed from their alcoholism. Moreover, drunkards outside the church used this as an excuse for continuing with their habit. "If the church agrees with drinking palm–wine," they said, "it can't be a sin to drink alcohol, and so we don't have to confine our own drinking to the church."
The believers prayed for a solution, and the Lord was soon to reply. On the 9th September 1967, one of the Christian women heard the Lord's voice say to her, "I will change water into wine at the communion service in October." This prophecy was repeated again on the 13th and the 17th of September. The woman, who was a member of one of the evangelistic teams, conveyed the message to the leading Christians in the area. And so, as the day of the communion service approached, some vessels were filled with water and prayed over by the Christians. Then, the miracle happened, and the church in Soe experienced its first miracle of water being changed into wine on the 5th October 1967. Superintendent Joseph was actually present at the time.
In December 1967, the miracle was repeated at the next communion service. The Lord, again, announced the forthcoming miracle some weeks before it was to take place. On each occasion, he chose a different team to pray for the water before the change occurred.
Superintendent Joseph went on to say that, up till the time of his giving his report, the miracle had occurred at every single communion service they had held since the first miraculous service in October 1967. As I have said, this amounted in all to eight occasions.
On the 7th December 1968, Pak Elias and his wife were also both present at one of these communion services when the miracle took place. He told me that, at the time, he felt so wretched inside that he had to confess his sins all over again, although he knew the Lord had already forgiven him once.
Following one of these communion services, two bottles of wine were left over. As the time for the next service approached, it was announced that teams number 4 and 11 were to participate in the fresh miracle, and seven bottles of water would be required. However, since only five bottles were available at the time, Joseph agreed that one of the Christians should empty both the full bottles and use them. When the brother had done this, he returned home only to find his own wife lying on the floor suffering from a severe haemorrhage. She had vomited about the same amount of blood as he had emptied wine from the bottles. Kneeling beside his wife, he prayed for her healing. He then hurried to see Superintendent Joseph and told him what had happened. Calling the elders of the church together, they returned quickly to the man's house and prayed over his sick wife. She then recovered.
After this experience, the men asked the Lord, "If you don't want us to empty out your wine, what do you want us to do with it?" They were told in reply that the wine should be used for the healing of any who were sick, and in particular for those who were suffering from anaemia. The Christians obeyed.
As a result of this distribution of the wine to the sick, it was discovered that, when the wine was left to stand, it gradually went sour. It remained dry for about the first week, but by the fourth week it would be completely sour. This fact is reminiscent of the story of the manna the children of Israel received in the wilderness which began to stink when it was kept longer than was necessary.
Many of the missionaries who heard the report of Superintendent Joseph naturally asked, "Was it really wine or was it just the juice of crushed grapes as certain Christian teetotallers believe?" The answer is quite illuminating. It was neither! The wine tastes and smells like genuine wine, and yet it contains no alcohol. Perhaps, this will end the quarrel between those whose opinions differ on the matter. Both sides are wrong, and both sides are right. One wonders how many of the theological problems that trouble us, will be answered in the same way.
Western theologians will find this recurrence of the miracle of Cana in Galilee almost scandalous. Many of them have already rejected the miracles of the Bible, and will, therefore, be quite unable to understand the present events taking place on Timor. The accounts written here will simply be explained away as mere fanaticism. But this is understandable. Five years ago, if I had suddenly been faced with reports of this nature, I too would have refused to believe them. I can, therefore, sympathize with the person who has genuine doubts. However, the problem of doubts can soon be solved. One can visit the centre of the revival in Soe whenever one wants to. The reported events can, therefore, be checked, and perhaps, if the Lord will, even experienced for oneself.
Yet, the revival church in Soe is by no means a mere tourist attraction. No one can approach the table of the Lord if he is not willing to follow the Lord. And, besides, the curiosity and sometimes the deceit of those who visit the area, can be dealt with quite embarrassingly. Anyone arriving here with some unforgiving sin on his conscience, or with deceit or an impenitent attitude in his heart, can, under certain circumstances, find that his secret sins are exposed and brought into the light. The Lord, quite often, gives a member of one of the teams a message for some unrepentant person present, which can strike right home to the person's heart.
VI. I AM A WITNESS
How unworthy I am! I have often robbed the Lord of the glory due to his own name and have been disobedient at times, and have often gone my own way. O, how my service for the kingdom of heaven accuses me! And yet I, too, have been a witness. God's mercy is beyond our understanding. I have witnessed the changing of water into wine.
Following the believers conference in East Java, an international team set out under the leadership of Pak Elias to visit the actual revival area in Indonesia. In addition to our leader, our team included three professors from Japan and Pakistan, as well as a young American missionary. We represented altogether five different nations, and were, in fact, the very first international team to have the privilege of becoming acquainted with the centre of the revival area. It was a moving experience to be permitted to take part in this tour. Pak Elias said to me, "You are the first visitor from Germany to have experienced the things you are now seeing taking place."
I can only repeat: this is a privilege I have neither earned nor deserved. We finally reached Soe on the 16th July 1969. The journey had utterly exhausted us. The road conditions, out here, are simply inconceivable to people living in either Britain or Germany. Although we arrived several hours late, we discovered that the members of the church had waited for four hours to welcome us into their midst.
During the next few days, we went from one meeting to another. Some meetings lasted for as much as twelve hours a day and thereby illustrated the type of spiritual appetite the local people must have to be able to absorb and digest so much spiritual food.
During our stay on the island, in company with the whole church, we were privileged to witness the changing of water into wine on two separate occasions. These were the ninth and tenth occasions on which the miracle had taken place. Can anyone imagine what it is like to be considered worthy to stand in the very presence of God?
Superintendent Joseph told us that the Lord had informed him six weeks previously that the coming international team would be celebrating the communion service with the church in Soe. But, six weeks ago, the team had not even been thought of. It had only been formed two days before our actual visit at the believers conference I have already mentioned, and then only after much prayer.
On July 5th, a group of twelve men and women were commanded by the Lord to pray for the changing of the water into wine. Six women were given the task of fetching the water from the well the Lord had indicated. The Water was, then, poured into a large vessel in the presence of 18 Christians, and covered with a piece of cloth. On Friday the 18th July at 12 o'clock, the Lord told them that the transformation had taken place. Taking the cloth off the vessel they found it was true - the water was now wine. When I saw the amount of wine that there was, I said to one of the leading brothers, "That won't be enough for the 700 or 800 people coming to the communion service." He agreed, but went on to say, "We will just have to wait for further instructions from the Lord." On Saturday at 10 o'clock in the morning, the Lord gave the required instructions: "Meet together tomorrow morning at 4 o'clock, draw some water out of the well I show you, and pray for the water until 7 o'clock." They obeyed. Next morning, at seven, the extra water had again been changed into wine in the presence of eighteen witnesses.
Whenever the miracle occurs, the Lord directs a different person or group of persons to fetch the water and to pray for its change. In this way, the wonderful privilege is shared. Moreover, on each occasion of the miracle, the Lord has directed that the communion service be held at a different location. The miracles are, thereby, experienced by the whole church, and no one knows beforehand who is to be chosen next to participate.
A number of problems are raised, however, by this miracle. It is not difficult to imagine, for example, the kind of objection that one will meet from the rationalists. But the phenomenon is not one of mass hypnosis. Neither is it a question of trickery or fraud. Those involved have included the local pastors, the local doctor and magistrate, and even the governor of the district who has, in fact, only recently become a Christian himself. We will be hearing his story very soon.
I can understand the genuine queries that will arise in the minds of even Christians. Humanly speaking I "know miracles are incomprehensible, and even the simple inhabitants of the island have doubted at times. When, however, one Christian woman actually expressed her disbelief, on the occasion of the next miracle, the Lord commanded her to be present when the water was drawn from the well, and that she should stay by the water until the miracle had taken place. Thus, with her own eyes, she saw the water change into wine. Falling to the ground, she begged the Lord to forgive her unbelief. One of the brothers told me his own story: After the occasion of the first miracle, he had expressed his doubt and said, "If the miracle really happened, I’ll give away my own cow." Imagine his surprise when, on the next occasion, the Lord directed that he should be the one to draw the water. Going to the designated well, hardly had he poured the water into the vessel he had with him, than he smelt the odour of wine. Looking down, he saw that the water had already become wine. Placing the vessel on the ground, he knelt down and begged for the Lord's forgiveness.
It is quite remarkable to see how detailed the Lord's instructions are with regard to the execution of this miracle. The obedience of those involved is absolutely essential. Once, the Lord sent six Christians out to fetch water without telling them which well to go to. Outside the village, they were suddenly commanded to stand still. "Lift up that stone," they were told. They obeyed, and there they found a spring of water with which to fill their vessels. By the following day, however, the spring had dried up again.
Another time, the 18 people who were praying, were ordered to take the wine to Pastor Micah. Arriving at his house and being met by his wife, they quite naturally gave the wine to her, asking her to pass it on to her husband. Although their disobedience had been only slight, the wine changed back into water once more. They consequently had to fast and to pray for another three days before the Lord wrought the miracle a second time.
On the ninth occasion of the changing of water into wine, at which I was also present, the Lord directed a group of 12 people to begin fasting two weeks before the actual communion service was to take place. During this time, the Lord allowed them to eat only half a banana a day, together with just a table–spoon full of rice and half a glass of water to drink. Relying on this meagre ration, the Lord commanded them to pray for several hours each morning, before setting out to work. This frugal diet, however, resulted in much blessing.
On Sunday, July 20th,we celebrated the much longed for communion service. Some 600 Christians from the surrounding district took part. I have never, in my life, experienced such a feast of the Lord. Who can comprehend the joy we had of being able to sit at the table of the Lord which had been decked with his very own wine? The taste remained in my mouth a full ten minutes after I had partaken of the cup.
What is the actual significance of this miracle? One thing it definitely is not, and that is a mere sensation. Basically, it is a means by which the Lord is aiding these poor Christian folk who have never even tasted fruit juice, let alone wine. It must never be forgotten, however, that the changing of a man's heart is a far greater miracle than the changing of water into wine. There are greater gifts than the gift of miracles, Jesus himself being the greatest of God's gifts to this world. Indeed, the incarnation of Jesus (He becoming the Son of man), atonement, resurrection, ascension and His coming again, are all greater gifts than the gift of water being changed to wine. The salvation of a soul is greater than the quenching of the body's thirst. And, besides, our faith is not founded upon miracles such as these, but rather upon the Lord Jesus Christ and the promises of God. If we can but grasp this fact, then, the way will be open for us to rejoice aright in the fact that the Lord is presencing himself with us in the 20th century and is exhibiting the same power and the same glory as he revealed during his actual earthly life nearly 2,000 years ago. It is indeed marvellous to find that God is still working miracles in a day in which the theologians of the Western world are erasing the selfsame miracles from the pages of the Bible, attributing them instead to the myths of Greece and Rome. However, the present events in Indonesia are not a myth, but rather a direct revelation of the power of the Lord himself.
This miracle of changing water into wine has yet another meaning though. When Jesus came to Cana in Galilee, he stood at the threshold of his miraculous ministry. The miracle described in John chapter 2 was the first of the signs that Jesus did in Galilee, and it was not by chance that it took place at a wedding feast. The coming of the Messiah is a time of great festivity and joy. In the same way, Christ's second coming for his Church, and the future hope of the marriage feast of the Lamb, is the greatest and most joyful event we have to look forward to. This present day miracle is, therefore, of an eschatological nature. The 'marriage feast' is at hand. The Lord is at the doors. Both the Lord's first and second coming are to be introduced with a time of great joy, and it is this joy that Christians are experiencing already in the revival area in Indonesia. In fact, many of the prophecies uttered there, point to the nearness of the Lord's return. It is entirely possible that this miracle of water being changed into wine will continue to occur in the revival area until He appears if people there remain faithful. But, now, a further story that will shed even more light on this 20th century miracle.
VII. MOTHER LI
Mother Li was first called by the Lord on the 17th November 1965. She was told, "You must go to New Guinea and preach the gospel there." Mother Li replied, "But Lord, I'm uneducated. Can't you send two of my sons instead?" She had in the back of her mind the request which the mother of the two sons of Zebedee had made to the Lord in Matthew 20:20. Accepting her prayer in part, the Lord postponed her call till later.
Mother Li is the mother of eleven children. To have obeyed the Lord's command immediately, would have been fraught with many difficulties. But, perhaps, this had not been the Lord's intention. Indeed, when he had first spoken to her, he had fixed no date as to when she should go. I can illustrate this from my own experience. About 40 years ago the Lord called me and said to me: "Go into the entire world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). However, I had to wait 25 years until this commission was fulfilled. But then, suddenly, every door seemed to open at once and ever since that time, I have been able to visit, in a missionary capacity, over 100 different countries and to preach the gospel on every continent of the world.
And so, this simple Christian woman had to wait. In 1967 her husband died. But, even this may have been part of God's plan, for the man may have been unwilling to allow his wife to leave their eleven children and travel to a distant land as a missionary. In the meantime, the Lord answered her prayer concerning her sons, and it will not be long now before the two sons will have completed their missionary training and become missionaries in their own right. However, the Lord did not go back on his original command. In spite of the fact that she is now 47 years old, He called her again and said to her, "Next year you must preach my Word in Java. After that, I will send you to New Guinea as I promised." If one were to meet this utterly simple native woman, it would almost be impossible to believe that she could fulfil such a missionary task. However, one has to learn an important lesson when in the revival area, for the Lord often seeks to use the humblest of people to fulfil the greatest of his tasks. Spiritual authority comes not as the result of possessing outstanding spiritual gifts, but, rather, through obedience.
The period of waiting did not pass in vain. The Lord gave Mother Li two specific charges to fulfil. First of all, he called her to be the leader of the prayer group which was to pray for the changing of the water into wine at the communion services. She was told that she would lead this group from April 1968 until December 1970. After that time, the Lord promised to call someone else to take on this job, although she was told that she would still remain a member of the group. In addition, the Lord promised that He would work this miracle at every communion service during her time in office, which amounted to a total of four communion services each year - two for each church. This was a tremendous promise, particularly in view of the fact that many Christians from the Western world are making great efforts to visit the centre of the revival area. Yet, tourists who come out of curiosity will have little chance of experiencing these great events, for the Lord seeks out his own for himself.
The second commission she received, referred to the settling of disputes among the pastors of the churches and the churches themselves. Mother Li, thereby, became the leader of the Team of Peace.
Her first job was to reconcile two of the pastors who had been at enmity with one another for over nine years. A reconciliation had already been attempted by the president of the National Council of Churches, but this had failed. In spite of making a long and difficult journey in an attempt to bring the two antagonists together, he had had no success in his mission. When Mother Li arrived to see them, however, the Lord gave her the authority to act as peacemaker between them, and the two men were reconciled. Travelling continually by foot, Mother Li has journeyed from one end of the island to the other, reconciling pastors and elders and other Christians to each other, as the Lord has directed her.
At the conference we attended, I failed to notice this simple woman among the many other people present. However, a few hours before my departure, she came up to me and handed me a woven mat to remember her by. This expression of love from such a simple handmaid of the Lord impressed me greatly, and I later discovered just how much time it took a person to make one of these mats. They first, of all, have to obtain the threads from certain roots and bark. These they then spin, colouring them with natural dyes made from berries and other plants. Next, the weaving begins, but they possess no complicated weaver's loom to help them with their work. Pak Elias, having grown up in this part of the world, told me, "It takes anything up to six months for a person to make a table cloth out here." One can see, therefore, the actual worth of one of these seemingly insignificant pieces of cloth. And yet, I was presented with altogether three such cloths by the Christians out there. I felt quite ashamed. Yet, the love of Christ has truly entered into the hearts of these people, and of this we will now hear further.
VIII. THE LOVE OF CHRIST
The revival expresses itself in two ways in the lives of the people it touches. It stirs up a deep love for Christ on the one hand, and a sincere love of one's neighbour on the other. The 150 evangelistic teams have fulfilled the commission of Luke 9:3 to the letter, and have gone out without bag, without purse, without money, and without food. They have, as a result, had to put up with many hardships, but nothing has daunted them in their resolve. At Soe, during a conference there, I was able to witness, at first hand, the frugality of the 43 teams present at the time. The 250 or so people who attended the conference expressed not the slightest anxiety concerning what they would eat or where they would sleep. In fact, because of the insufficient room in the houses, many of them slept under the trees at night, and this included not only team members but also many other Christians from all over the island. Their love for Christ made them oblivious to every hardship, and they lived together willingly in a state of true poverty. Each morning, they would meet before sunrise to pray for their daily bread, little knowing just how their Lord would supply their needs. It was extremely moving to listen to one of the Christians, Pak O., as he wept at a church meeting and begged the Lord to take care of these faithful messengers of the cross.
As we have said, the second fruit of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit is a love of the brethren. This love rests upon every single relationship on the island. Instead of the strife which once existed, neighbouring families now meet together between five and six in the morning to pray and to read the Word of God. Walking through the village at sunrise, one can hear the sound of these family devotions coming from every quarter as the people sing praises and pray in loud voices to their Lord. Even the police have felt the effect of this change. For years the government endeavoured to put an end to the heavy drinking and fighting which existed on the island, but without success. However, since the revival broke out all this has ended. Where the people sing to the Lord, the spirits of darkness flee.
This selflessness and love has taken forms on, which I have never seen in the Western world, and its strength and purity is almost unique. As the hundreds of visitors poured in from the outlying districts, hospitality was offered to them as freely as it was possible. In one particular home, for example, with only a thatched roof over our heads, some 40 guests were catered for in a single day. On other occasions, I twice counted some 30 to 35 people in the house, and the very minimum number present was always nine or ten. The words of Acts 4:32 apply literally to these people: "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common."
I was able to talk once to the father of a family with whom our international team stayed for a whole week.
In addition to ourselves, they had welcomed other visitors into their home each day we had been there, in spite of having six children of their own to feed. Since the father had only a very minor office job from which to obtain his income, we asked them what the secret of their scriptural mathematics was, which could make so little stretch so far. In their answer, they told us of the way in which the Lord had led them to himself, and how they had both been wonderfully saved when the revival had first broken out. The wife had been the daughter of a minister. Her father, however, had died when she had been only three years old. Although she had grown up in the traditions of the church, she had never come to know the Lord Jesus personally. When the spirit of the revival had swept across the island, she had been caught up in its power and had finally confessed her sins and accepted the Lord as her own Saviour. Following this, she now started to pray for the conversion of her husband who was an officer in the air force at the time. Under President Sukarno, he had flown in many missions during the time of the uprising in Celebes, and had been responsible for the deaths of many people. But, then, the revival arrived and many of the natives began to turn to the Lord for salvation. Prevented by pride, he sought to avoid his own conversion. However, the Lord struck the officer down with a severe illness. He developed a dangerous boil which can sometimes have fatal consequences in the tropics. The doctor informed him, "If the boil bursts internally it will kill you. If it bursts on the outside you will live." His wife, who had prayed a great deal for his spiritual welfare, begged a believing pastor to come and see him. The Christian brother prayed with the patient in accordance with James 5:14. The very next day the boil burst externally, and soon the officer was completely healed. As a result of this experience, the officer was finally converted. Not wishing to remain in the air force for fear of having to kill more people, he took his opportunity and left, taking up a poorly paid position in an office instead. And so, today, receiving just a minimal wage each week, he acts as host to the many messengers of Christ who arrive in the town. His house is, in fact, a focal point of missionaries and evangelists. But, what of the secret of their daily provisions? His wife told us, "The more we give to the Lord and to his servants, the more blessings we receive in return. We find that the giving of hospitality leaves us not with less, but with more than we started with." The Lord will accept nothing from us without repaying a hundredfold.
IX. KUSA NOPE
Kusa Nope is the fourteenth member of a line of kings which has ruled in Timor for many generations. Up till the year 1948, he had continued to hold the title of King of Amanuban. Then, after the departure of the Dutch colonial powers, he had been elected governor of the district of Soe. However, the people had continued to address him as king just as before, and his appearance and behaviour made this title well–deserved. Before we go on to say anything more about him, let us first listen to his own testimony of his conversion. Although I have had the opportunity of meeting three different kings from Africa and Asia during my life, it was Kusa Nope who made the greatest impression on me through our almost daily contact with him during our stay in the district under his administration.
"I was born in 1910 and spent my early school years in Soe. My mother often used to send me to the Sunday school of the local church, but I understood little of what they taught me there. Later, I attended the high school in K., and then continued my studies in Makassar on the island of Celebes. The only reason I carried on going to church there was to keep up appearances with my friends. I didn't want them to think I was a heathen. However, when my friends themselves began to stay away from church, I soon followed suit. At the outbreak of the Second World War, I returned again to Soe. I was even baptised at the time, yet, I was still not a real Christian. The only aim I had, was to earn a lot of money, and to attain a high position in life. I just didn't think about Jesus at the time. At first, it seemed that everything was working against me, and I had a lot of trouble with the government, with my friends, and even with my own family. Yet, I had to overcome all these problems alone and without the help of Jesus.
In 1967, however, a mission was held in Soe. It was then that I first surrendered my life to Christ. A short while later, a simple native Christian woman came to me with a message from the Lord saying, "You have got 18 fetishes in your palace at N. as well as many others at your sacrificial site on the mountain of Tonbis. You must destroy them all." At the time, I was so busy that I soon forgot all about her message. Inwardly, I suppose, I just did not want to obey. Later, when I did in fact have a little space in which to breathe, I was invited to attend a congress of the government which delayed my obedience further. On returning to Soe, I became very ill and had to go to the hospital in K. for treatment. After keeping me under observation for some three weeks, the doctor advised me to travel across to Java to receive further treatment at one of the university clinics found there. At the time, I had a blood pressure of 230, as well as many other complaints. That same night the Lord spoke to me and said, "Do not go to Java. Return home to Soe instead." When I saw the doctor the next morning and told him of my decision, he merely shook his head. However, in the meantime, I had become convinced that the illness was from the Lord, and that it had resulted from my not having obeyed his commands concerning the fetishes. Back at Soe, the Lord finally brought me to the place where I was prepared to destroy all my objects of sorcery. Together with a team of 70 believers, we decided to climb up to the sacrificial site on the mountain of Tonbis. I was so weak that in the end, I had to be carried. When we did finally reach the site, we proceeded to destroy all the fetishes.
Following this, we next renamed the mountain, Horeb, calling the neighbouring mountain, Mount Zion, as the Lord had directed us to do. I felt convinced that, when the fetishes had been destroyed, I would at once get better, but this was not to be. I asked the Lord, therefore, if I was still to go to Java for treatment. "No," was his reply, "go back to your office and work." This seemed very strange at the time, for I was still very weak, but in those days I had to learn the important lesson that one has to believe without seeing, and to obey without questioning. After much hesitation, however, I went along to my office again. The people there were quite astonished to see me arrive for I had lost some 30 pounds in weight since last I had been there. Yet, now I was back at work my strength quickly returned and I was completely healed. The most difficult aspect of all these trials, was the learning of obedience. It is only through Jesus, and through obedience to him that one can find any form of fulfilment in this life."
Having heard the testimony of the king himself, I would like to go on now and fill in some of the details behind his story.
When our international team originally arrived at the airport in K., Kusa Nope was already there waiting to meet us. Pak Elias turned to me and asked, "Have you ever heard of a king meeting an evangelist at an airport before?" The king, who we discovered, was an extremely humble brother in Christ, sacrificed two whole days in order to be able to accompany us on our six hour journey from K. to Soe. Only those who have travelled along these roads can understand what a sacrifice this really was. On our way, we suddenly came upon a bus bearing the name 'Horeb'. Stopping, we learned that not only had Kusa Nope renamed the two mountains with the names the Lord had told him, but he had given two of his buses these names as well.
After our arrival in Soe, we were twice invited to be the guests of the royal family. In addition to this, the king himself attended the conference meetings almost every day. When it was finally time for us to leave, he again ordered some cars to drive us back to K. The next day we found yet another car, complete with a chauffeur, waiting to drive us wherever we wanted to go. The impression received by all the members of our team, was that here was a king who was also a brother in the Lord.
While I was in the area, I was able to hear the report of the 70 believers who had accompanied Kusa Nope to the top of the mountain of Tonbis. The actual destruction of the sacrificial site had been a veritable battle against the powers of darkness. The following paragraphs contain a short account of the events as they actually took place.
The kings of Amanuban have been in possession of a sacrificial site on the mountain for hundreds of years. Some 300 years ago one of the princesses was sacrificed at this very spot. The idols rewarded the people greatly for their worship, and the forefathers of Kusa Nope had been able to fulfil almost every desire they had had at this altar of sacrifice. Yet, events of this nature are almost inconceivable to Westerners, who usually banish them to the realms of myths and fairy stories.
When the team arrived at the site, the Lord showed them that there were over a hundred different fetishes hidden there. Even Kusa Nope himself had not known just how many occult objects they would find. At first, the Lord had told the eight team leaders to stand in pairs at the four points of the compass. He had indicated, next, that the members of the king's family should stand in the middle of this square, with the 62 other team members standing around them in a circle. The fetishes themselves were brought from their hiding places and put in a heap. They all now began to pray together and to sing hymns of victory to the Lord. At that moment, the eight team leaders suddenly found themselves being physically attacked by some ghost–like figures. They were seized by the arms and at the same time heard voices asking them, "Why are you trying to drive us away from this place? We have a right to be here." To this the leaders replied, "We are doing this on the authority of the Lord Jesus. We don't come in our own name." On hearing this, the figures suddenly rushed away through the trees, knocking some down as they went. As they watched them leave, the team leaders saw them change into what looked like bulls and rams.
The team was now told by the Lord to stand in the form of a cross. Twelve of the elders of the former heathen tribe and twelve elders of the Christian church were made to form the central beam, while the eight team leaders had to form the cross–piece. They, then, started to pray and to command the powers in the name of Jesus to leave the sacrificial site and not return again. At the same time, a great fire was lit and the fetishes were thrown into it and burnt. Those which could not be burnt were broken into pieces and thrown away. To me, it was very significant, however, to find that the Lord had said to them at the time, "Do not simply destroy the fetishes and charms, but pray a prayer of renunciation over each of the articles beforehand." Every one of the 70 team members was a witness to these events. Later, however, three other fetishes were destroyed, but, this time only in the presence of one other Christian worker.
And so, the ban over the life of the king was broken, a ban which had affected the whole of the royal family. The result of this was a feeling of complete liberation. As governor of the district, the king today holds a monthly prayer meeting with his 80 fellow officials, during which time he reads the Bible aloud and joins with them in prayer. They also meet together in a similar way each Saturday at midday after the week's work has ended.
Governors in Indonesia are elected to office every four years. At the last election, there were, naturally, many people who opposed the re–election of Kusa Nope. Neither the non–Christians nor the Moslems were happy with his being governor. However, the Lord spoke to him one day and said, "Do not fear, for you shall be re–elected. I have placed you in this office to fulfil what I have purposed." And so, the promise was fulfilled. The Lord has in fact often conveyed his wishes to the king, sometimes using one of the team leaders to pass his message on. For example, I was sitting in his home one day, when a very simple Christian woman arrived with a message from the Lord referring to his actual administration.
This is true, also, of the pastors of the local church. Occasionally, one of the church members has been given the text on which his pastor should speak. In fact, on some occasions, the actual church services have been interrupted for the purpose of passing on a message. Once, when Pak Elias himself was preaching in Soe, a woman who was filled with the Holy Spirit, stood up and interrupted him while he was actually speaking. Yet, in all these circumstances, the Lord's discipline continues to reign supreme. Up till now, there has been no sign of the lack of restraint which is so often found among members of the extreme sects. And yet, this is almost sure to come. Every revival seems to boil over in the end. It is basically a question of whether or not the people involved will continue to accept the discipline and correction of their fellow believers and the Word of God.
It is the duty of Christians throughout the world to pray and to intercede for this revival – that it may continue along a pathway ordained by God. We should, also, pray for the leaders of the churches and for the king himself, that God will keep their spirits humble and will use them in the service of their fellow countrymen.
X. A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL BY THE GRACE OF GOD
Nathan is the secretary of the government in Soe. I was able to meet him on two occasions, once in East Java and the second time on Timor itself. The impression Nathan makes on one is unforgettable. His life is a testimony in itself, and a person can be blessed by meeting him without a word being spoken at all. Indeed, I have experienced this myself. He is one of those few people in whom the image of Christ has already been formed. One of the missionaries, who, like me, attended the conference in Java, said of him, "Of all the tremendous testimonies we have heard, Nathan's impressed me most."
Nathan based his brief report on the words of Isaiah 57:15 which read, "For thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite."
One of the secrets of the revival is the humility of the believers involved. In the other revival areas of the world, in Korea, Uganda, and Taiwan, although the same is true to a certain extent, it appeared more noticeable to me on Timor. The Christians, there, possess truly broken and contrite and humble hearts. In one's fellowship with them, one feels as if one is covered with filth from head to foot. This feeling of unworthiness is so great that one is overwhelmed with a desire to run away and hide. It seemed so out of place when they asked me one day to step up into the pulpit and preach the gospel to them. On several occasions, I have felt compelled to say to them, "No, it's you who must preach to me, not I to you."
However, this feeling of unworthiness is not engendered by the natives themselves, but rather by the Lord who reveals himself so mightily in their lives. While I was staying with them, I continually felt as if the eyes of the Lord were looking straight through me. For days, it seemed as if Jesus was standing above me and reproaching me for my sins. This was not a vision in the true sense of the word, but rather something that could be recognized with the eye of faith. The only prayer I could think of uttering was, "Dear Lord, if you don't free me from this feeling of despair I will be lost." I resolved, in my mind, that if it were the Lord's will, this would not be the last visit I made to Soe. And I feel indeed that God would one day have me return.
But, now to Nathan's own testimony of the Lord's dealings with him. In 1965 one of the teams on Timor was told by God to make Nathan one of its members. Coming to this senior government official, they said to him, "The Lord has told us that you are to join our team." Nathan was a little perplexed; he was old enough to be the team leader's father, and educationally was far superior to him. Was he to subordinate himself to this simple young man? And if he did, what would the authorities say? He told the team of young people he would have to think over what they had said and ask the permission of his superiors as well.
Quite surprisingly, the head office gave him its official consent on the 5th October 1965. The government even supplied a car to take the team on the first part of its evangelistic mission. When they were finally dropped by the car, in the evening, they went on walking until about 11 o'clock that night.
It was during this march that they first experienced the help and the presence of the Lord. For the whole of the time, a light shone around them and illuminated their way. Nathan looked up into the sky to see if it was the moon that was causing the shadows, but, as yet, it was not to be seen. Other evangelistic teams have also experienced this miraculous light on their travels.
As they approached the village they were making for, they found the villagers already coming out to meet them. They were crying and frightened, for they had heard a loud voice speaking to them and telling them to accept the message of the gospel. Meeting together in one of the houses, they immediately held their first mission service.
When the team did finally get to bed, it was already well after midnight. Nathan was restless. He kept asking himself, "What's going to happen in the morning? Where are we going to get some food to eat?" It was the dry season at the time, and besides, there was already a shortage of food in the area. Next day, however, when the team met together for prayer, the Lord said to them, "Walk one kilometre out of the village and there I will give you some food." Although Nathan still doubted in his heart, he obeyed the Lord's command with the rest of the team. As they reached a spot exactly one kilometre from the village, they suddenly saw a man coming towards them. They discovered, when they began to talk to him, that he was an elder of the local church. He was carrying a bottle of palm–juice at the time, and he offered it to the team for them to drink. And so, their breakfast had been supplied. In the East, when there is a famine, the people are content with far less than their brethren in the West. The young missionaries were inwardly moved by the way in which the Lord had supplied their needs, and they were unable to hold back their tears as they drank the juice that the man had offered them.
On their arrival at the next village, the team found shelter in the house of an old man who lived there. Their new host was somewhat worried by the number of his guests. How could he feed nine people when there was a famine in the area? In spite of the fact that the team tried to console him, their words were of no avail.
And so, they turned to prayer. However, although the Lord comforted them with the words of Matthew 4: 4, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God," the old man continued to doubt. Suddenly, the second miracle of their daily sustenance occurred: a poor man arrived at the door with some rice and a chicken for the team to eat. With this, the spell was broken and the old man began to cry and to repent of his unbelief. The team could only praise their Lord for the richness of his provision for them.
Each day, they were confronted with fresh problems concerning their daily bread. Next morning, for example, having left the house early in search of something to eat, their host returned later with a sad expression on his face. There was nothing to be found. However, while he was still speaking, two other people arrived with some rice and meat for the guests. With one accord, they fell to their knees and thanked their Father in heaven for his daily love towards them. By now, Nathan had already repented of his doubts, and yet, as each new miracle occurred, he never ceased to wonder. He noticed that the team made no plans of its own but waited in faith upon the Lord for all its directions. This is true obedience - something which has almost been forgotten in the West. Yet, if we would only obey him, no matter what the cost, the Lord would always provide.
The provision of their daily bread was not the only miracle that Nathan witnessed on their evangelistic tour. Indeed, this was but a side issue, for the most important aspect was the converting of souls to Christ. In this realm too, the team had many marvellous experiences. As was inevitable, they met with a lot of opposition to their work. In their times of united prayer, however, the Lord would actually show them the faces and the sins of those who sought to oppose them. In this way, these young Disciples of Christ had already prayed a great deal for their enemies before they had ever met them in the flesh. They were usually told, by means of prophecy, what problems and difficulties faced them at each village, before they had even arrived there. On entering a new village, therefore, the team was often forewarned of the battle that awaited them. The following is an example of this.
In one of the villages, the team was called to the bedside of a man who was very ill. One of their basic rules was to pray together for each family before they entered the house. As they were, therefore, praying for this particular man and his household, the Lord spoke to them and said, "There is a curse upon this family, for the father has stabbed another man through the tongue several times." When the team finally entered the house, they confronted the man with the sin that the Lord had told them he had committed. "Will you repent of your sin?" they asked him. "Yes," he replied, "I will." He then went on to confess to them that, as a soldier, he had once shot a man down and thrust his bayonet through his tongue several times as an act of revenge. By faith, the ex–soldier took hold of the forgiveness that exists in Christ, and he surrendered his life to the Lord. It was then that another very interesting fact came to light. After he had committed the crime, he had just confessed, his wife had borne him another child. By now, the child had reached an age of being able to talk, but, when the team saw him, they found that he was not even able to utter a single word. Following the repentance and conversion of the father, however, the team prayed for the child under the laying on of hands. Next day, the child could speak; the curse had at last been lifted.
As had been happening throughout the revival area, wherever the team went, the villagers would bring their fetishes and charms out of their houses and burn them. It was just like at Ephesus in Acts 19. When the occult ban had been broken, many of the villagers accepted the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, so much so that the glory of God rested on their whole campaign. As Nathan ended his report, he begged for just one thing. "Please, pray for me and for the other Christians on Timor that we will never become the victims of spiritual pride."
XI. GOD CALLS THROUGH VISIONS
The prophets of the Old Testament were often called by God through a vision at the beginning of their prophetic ministry. Isaiah, for example, saw the Lord high and lifted up in the temple, while Jeremiah was shown a rod of almond and a boiling pot on the day that the Lord called him into his service. Ezekiel, too, was the recipient of many visions from the Lord. And so, we find that in the Old Testament, the seeing of visions was closely connected with a person's prophetic ability. The same is true today on the islands of Indonesia. We find that the prophecy of Joel 3:1 and Acts 2:17 is being fulfilled in our midst: "Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." The revival on Timor, therefore, has both a prophetic and an eschatological nature, and this is confirmed on almost every occasion a person there is called into the Lord's service. Let us listen, for example, to the story and testimony of Philip, the leader of team number 36, and a man with whom I was able to enjoy wonderful fellowship with, when I stayed at his house and listened to the story of his own life.
Philip was called by God on the I2th September 1965. As he went out into his garden, at about 5 o'clock in the morning, he suddenly saw a shining figure with long white hair standing some five yards away in front of him. The chickens were so frightened by this visitor that they started flying down from the trees in which they commonly roost on Timor. The dog, too, started barking in alarm. Philip was quite scared and asked himself if what he was seeing was either a nun or the devil. It was well that he asked this question for the strange phenomena of incubi and succubae, about which I have already written in other of my books, occur on Timor also. Quite often, for example, the devil will appear to a person in the form of a being of the opposite sex in order to lead him astray. Full of horror, Philip ran back to the door of his house only to be met by his cousin who cried, "I've just seen a star fall into the garden." "Where?" Philip asked him urgently. His cousin pointed to the spot where the shining figure had been standing only a moment previously. Philip was now sure that he had not been suffering from a hallucination.
When he had, at last, calmed down, Philip went out into the garden for a second time and began to water his apple trees. Suddenly, he heard a voice say to him, "Water people." Although he thought it was a rather strange thing to hear, he went on with his work and started to do some digging in one comer of the garden. The voice spoke to him again: "Dig the hearts of men." Well, this was even stranger, he thought. How could one dig a man's heart with the crow–bar he held in his hand? It would kill the person! Like many of the islanders, he could only understand the meaning of words in their literal sense.
But now, the voice went on to explain the meaning of the words he had just heard. "To water people," it explained, "means to give them the water of life, and the water of life is the Word of God. To dig the hearts of men means to renew them with the Holy Spirit. The weeds in the garden are a picture of a person's sins which must be pulled out by the roots, otherwise they will grow again. Pull out the weeds therefore, dry them in the sun and then burn them. When the land has been cleansed, begin to plant, and you will reap much fruit. Remember, the thing that counts is not how nice the stalks look, but rather the type of fruit each stalk bears."
Following his 'spiritual lesson', Philip saw a vision in which he himself was preaching to a crowd of many hundreds of people, who were standing in the garden. His message was based on the thirteenth chapter of Luke, and he was talking about the unfruitful fig tree. He noticed that the audience consisted of people from Africa, China, and Europe, as well as soldiers and policemen, and they were all standing listening as if rooted to the spot. He spoke out louder in order to make himself heard by all the people present, but even this was not enough and so he moved nearer to the gate of the garden that others might be able to hear what he was saying. After he had watched himself preach for a total of five hours, the vision disappeared. Instead of the crowd, he suddenly found his mother and his brothers standing around him looking at him as if he had gone mad. It was only then that he had noticed how much time had passed. He was covered in sweat.
"Come into the house and have something to eat," his mother begged him. "Man shall not live by bread alone," replied Philip, "but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Up till then, Philip had had little contact with either the church or the Bible. He began to tell his family, however, about the vision, and afterwards went into another room and started to pray. It was the first time he had done so for years. Suddenly, he saw some white writing in front of him which read, "Read John 14:12." Fetching his Bible - he knew no texts off by heart - he read the passage concerned. "What do you mean, Lord?" he asked. "I can't become an evangelist. People like that have to leave their home and lead a very poor type of life."
That night, at about 10, while Philip was again praying, he was given his second vision. Two shining figures came up to him and dressed him in a shirt and a pair of trousers, at the same time putting a hat on his head and a sword in his hand. They then told him to read Ephesians 6:10 and the following verses. Next, they showed him the roads leading to N. and other villages where he would have to go and preach the gospel. This second vision lasted for a total of 12 hours. At 10 o'clock the next morning, his mother came into the room and found him still sitting on the stool which he had sat down on the previous evening. He got up, had something to eat, and by eleven o'clock was already dressed and walking towards N. His mother, being a little worried about the whole affair, sent some of his brothers and sisters along with him to keep him company.
Philip felt at peace, and began to sing, "I will follow you, that is peace to me." As he passed people walking the other way, he noticed that they were sweating a great deal in the sun. He realized, suddenly, that he was not sweating himself and that he was walking in the shade. Looking up, he saw a cloud in the sky which was following him as he walked and keeping the sun's rays from off his back. This continued until he had reached N.
While he was walking, however, his obedience was tested on a number of occasions. As a group of people approached him once, a voice said, "Stand still and start to pray." Philip protested, “I’m not a Pharisee.” The voice persisted, "Stand still and pray." Philip thought to himself, "Well, I can stand still and pray in my heart with my eyes open." "No," said the voice, "pray aloud." He obeyed. His brothers and sisters became extremely embarrassed and stepped a few yards back from him in alarm. Philip, however, was filled with joy as a result of this obedience, and started on his way again singing. During the fifteen mile journey to N., he had to pass the same test on altogether four occasions.
Arriving at a village where one of his uncles lived, just as he was about to enter his house, the Lord stopped him and said, "You must pray before you enter this house." Although his relatives did not understand what he was doing, he began to pray. When he had finished and had sung a hymn concerning the Lord's second coming, he found that the whole village had assembled together around him. He began to preach to them the message he had heard himself preach in his own garden before the crowd in the second vision he had had. Like the sermon in the vision, this message too lasted for five hours, from 5 o'clock in the afternoon till 10 o'clock at night. When he had finished, the people returned to their homes and brought out their fetishes and magic roots and burnt them.
The conversion of the villagers, however, was not the only fruit of his ministry. Philip was amazed to find that, while he was actually preaching, blind people began to receive their sight, while those who were lame, started to walk. And yet, it had not even entered his head that miracles like this would occur. It was then that he remembered the words of John 14:12 through which he had received his call: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to my father." Philip remained in the village for a further two days before returning to Soe.
On the 26th September 1965 the Lord showed him that he should start working with another native brother named Saul. On the 27th of the same month, in the morning, they visited the schools in Soe. Wherever they went, the children and the teachers started to cry and to pray and to confess their sins. It became simply impossible to continue with the lessons. Saul proposed that they all go across to the church and hold a meeting there. However, when they arrived it was hardly possible to hold a meeting at all, since the spirit of revelation and prophecy came over almost everyone present. Children began to say to children, "There are fetishes in your home. Bring them out and burn them. You've got roots as well, and herbs and you've a belt which you use for sorcery too." And so it went on. Each person began to uncover the occult sins of his neighbour. Philip was startled, for he remembered that he, too, had brought some fetishes home from the island of Flores. He wondered if what was taking place was scriptural, but just as he thought this, one of the school children started calling out, "There is someone here who doubts. Read Acts 2:17–21. You will find that the gift of prophecy has been promised by God." Philip knew, at once, that the words were meant for him, and he was glad in fact that he had not been publicly named in the process.
The spirit of God affected so many of the people that soon the church became filled and many had to stand outside. As the news of the meeting spread, the two local ministers came to see what was going on. Superintendent Joseph wondered, at first, whether or not it was the working of God's Spirit. As the thoughts went through his mind, though, they too were suddenly revealed through the prophecy of one of the people present. This happened on three occasions until, in the end, his doubts were assuaged. As he watched the events proceed, it became doubly clear to him that this was the work of the Holy Spirit, and, today, this brother is one of the leading figures in the whole of the revival movement.
That evening, the people simply refused to return to their homes. The meeting, which had begun in the morning, continued throughout the night. It was during this time that over 20 different evangelistic teams were born. Every leader was chosen personally by the Lord. At 2 o'clock the next morning, 18 hours after the meeting had first begun, Saul urged the people to go to their homes. When Philip himself left, at about this time, he could find no peace in his soul. He, therefore, continued in prayer for the rest of the night. The following morning, after a voice had told him which verses of the Bible to read, he assembled his team together and set out to go to K. His only clothes were a shirt and a pair of trousers. He did not even have a pair of shoes.
For two and a half months, he and his team worked in the interior of the island preaching the gospel wherever they went. Having no extra clothes with him, the ones he was actually wearing began to get dirtier by the day. He asked the Lord what he should do. "Stroke your shirt and your trousers with your hands," he was told. Obeying, Philip found that his clothes became clean. The miracle continued to occur until the team returned from its mission, but then it stopped and he had to resort to using soap and water again.
Sometimes, it could be quite embarrassing to meet Philip, for the Lord had given him the gift of knowledge, whereby he often knew what secret sins and impurities a person carried on his conscience. I was, once, present in Soe with him and another two Christian brothers from overseas, when he turned to the man sitting next to me and said, "When I saw you for the first time in East Java, I saw a flame hovering over your forehead. You have some occult objects in your home. I can, even now, see the flame above your head. You have some fetishes." My companion replied spontaneously, "Yes, that's true. I brought back some gold fetishes as souvenirs from East Asia which were decorated with precious stones. I never thought they could be dangerous to Christians. I’ll write home at once and tell my family to destroy them." I found this little episode of great interest, since, for years now, I have pointed out to people that a missionary should never take any objects home that have been used in cultic rites as mementoes of the mission field.
On another occasion, Philip was attending a meeting at which another native evangelist was present. During the message, the evangelist began to suffer from a severe attack of ear–ache. When the man could stand the pain no longer, Philip questioned him about his life. It transpired that the evangelist had in his possession a pair of ear rings which had been made from part of an idol. When he threw the rings into a fire, his ear–ache ceased.
Philip was not always welcomed by the churches he visited. Those who heard him preach, and especially the nominal Christians and the church elders, were often afraid of him. The Lord had given his messenger the ability to lay open the lives of the people to whom he spoke. Closing his eyes, he was able to see the secret sins of the people present as if by a spiritual form of photography. When he met a person for the first time, he would quite often have a vision of their whole life of sin, and would subsequently seek an opportunity to speak to that person and to tell him what the Lord had revealed to him.
But, his prophetic gift was not a static affair. On account of the anger it often produced in other people, Philip prayed that the Lord would change his method of working, and this He did. Before entering a village, for example, the Lord would show him the sins of the people in the local church. He would, then, preach against these sins, and through his subsequent ministry a great cleansing movement began to spread through the churches. This, in turn, was again followed by the healing of many who were sick.
In N. a girl was brought to him whose foot had been badly torn in an accident and was bleeding profusely. Laying his hands on the wound Philip felt power going out from him. The blood stopped flowing. Next day some new skin had already formed over the wound and it was healed.
The name by which Philip's team was usually known, was the Fire Team. We have already heard a little about their work. Sometimes, the flames were seen not only by the leader of the team, but also by all the people present at the meeting. The natives feared these flames for they knew that through them their secret sins would be un–covered. Yet, even when they fled to their houses, the flames would still follow them and not relent.
Pak Elias once said to me, "This brother is spiritually one of the most powerful team leaders on the island." But, he too needs our prayers, for the devil is always seeking a means by which to make such men stumble into sin. The experience of other revival areas of the world shows that when a man falls victim to pride, he soon loses his spiritual authority. One of the team leaders has already fallen into this trap.
XII. THE CALL OF A HEATHEN PRIEST
In a village, some 5 miles from Soe, there lived a certain heathen priest who had many followers. One day, in 1963, just after he had arrived at his small temple, he was suddenly caught in a beam of light, and he heard a voice saying to him, "Your name shall be no longer called Ham but Shem. If you do not obey, the judgement of God will fall upon you." Ham obeyed. That very same day, he spoke to his followers and said to them, "God has revealed himself to me. We must no longer offer sacrifices to the sun and the moon and the stars, but must instead begin to serve the God who made the heavens and the earth."
Before this time Ham, together with all his followers, had been a sun–worshiper, and he had often sacrificed pigs and chickens to the sun and moon respectively. Following his talk to them, however, 60 of his disciples accepted the new faith which he had adopted.
Shem, as he now became called, was greatly blessed following his obedience. Although he is illiterate, the Lord taught him a certain type of hieroglyphics, and, through a process of direct revelation, revealed to him an account of the story of creation. Later, when he had come into contact with the Christians and had read his account to them, it was discovered that the story agreed with that of the first chapters of the Bible. In addition to this revelation, the Lord told him that he would one day be visited by some people who would tell him more about his new faith. The promise came true.
A year after he had received his call from God, some Christians who possessed the gift of healing arrived at the village. Shem, who up till that time had been a leper, was wonderfully healed. Another year passed and then, when some more Christians arrived and spoke to him about Jesus, he surrendered his life to Christ immediately.
He began, at once, to make regular visits to the church meetings in Soe, as well as starting up meetings of his own for his former heathen followers. I have had the opportunity of meeting this brother in the Lord on two occasions, and he even allowed me to take photographs of the hieroglyphics he had written out. It can also be mentioned here that another brother sent me a drawing of Jesus sitting above the sun illustrating the vision I have already described on page 143.
XIII. THE CALL OF A WOMAN
The ministry of women in the Church has always been a great cause of contention among certain groups of Christians. In the revival area, however, the Lord has answered the problem by even calling women to be the leaders of some of the teams.
Sarai was first called on the 2çth September 1965. She was suddenly woken up in the night by the sound of a loud voice. At first, she was quite frightened and thought she was in the middle of a thunder storm. It was then that she heard the words, "Read Acts 2:2." When her brother began to read the passage to her, however, she lost consciousness. Then, while she was still unconscious, she heard the voice speak to her again and say, "Read Matthew 10:27–28." Later she discovered that her family had also heard the words which had been spoken to her. Finally, the voice spoke to her a third time and she was told, "Go out and preach the message I give to you."
This third command was followed by the feeling of a warm force coming upon her head. Putting her hands up to protect herself, she cried out, "Lord, help me." But the force became even hotter and continued to affect her for some time until she had regained consciousness fully. After this, however, Sarai felt as if she had been completely changed.
That same evening, at about 6 o'clock, she began to preach. Gradually, a number of her neighbours and other members of the village collected around her to listen what she had to say. Although she had spent no time at all in preparation she continued to speak of the things that the Lord had given her to say until 3 o'clock the following morning.
During her preaching, the spirit of prophecy suddenly came over her, and she began to tell the people present what fetishes they had in their houses, and where they were hidden. Those concerned hurried away and, fetching their amulets and charms, they brought them back to the meeting and threw them into a heap. Later that same morning, after all the fetishes had been carried to the church, Superintendent Joseph arranged for them all to be burnt.
Following this eventful commencement of her ministry, Sarai received new commands from the Lord. "Go out and preach," he told her one day. "But Lord," she replied, “I’m not an educated woman.” The voice went on, "Read Matthew 10:20." There she found the words, "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." Before setting out, the Lord showed her the faces of the other people who were to be the members of her team. They included three young men and another Christian native woman. Just before her first preaching campaign, she was given a fresh vision. She saw two messengers coming towards her dressed in white, who, after they had handed her a key, said to her, "This key is the Word of God, and with it you will be able to open the hearts of men." Wherever the team now went, the words that Sarai spoke began to strike at the consciences of those who came to listen, forcing them to bring their fetishes out and to burn them in the sight of all. This angered one of the people who heard her so much that he secretly decided to try to kill her. Sarai, however, was warned by the Lord of this proposed attempt on her life, and when the man found that he was unable to fulfil his plans, he too repented and gave his fetishes over to be burned.
One of the side effects of this campaign was the healing of many who were sick. Sarai was not aware, at first, that her preaching was having this effect, but, during one of her messages, a person who had been ill for many years suddenly sprang up and started shouting out, I’ve been healed, I've been healed." There are other examples too.
An old man, who had been lame for three years, attended one of her meetings. While he was standing listening to the message, he suddenly found that he could walk properly. At once, he sought out the nearest church and fell on his knees and gave thanks to God. On another occasion, among the people who had come to listen was a 27–year–old man who had been blind from birth. Suddenly, in the middle of the message he cried out, "I can see light." Coming to the front, he was not only soundly converted but was also completely healed of his blindness.
A fifty–year–old man, who had been deaf and dumb since childhood, was prayed for by some of the Christians. He was wonderfully healed and later gave his heart to the Lord.
There were, in fact, many people healed in this way, and yet it was noticed that if a person failed to follow Christ after his healing, the illness would return and would become worse than it had been before.
After labouring for some time on the island of Timor, Sarai was commanded by God to go to the neighbouring island of Rote and to begin to work there. After trying, unsuccessfully, to obtain a passage on a boat crossing from Timor to Rote, she went down to the sea shore with her team and asked the Lord, "How are we going to get across the sea?" Replying, the Lord said, "Wait another seven days and I will send you a prau (a small sailing boat)." They waited, and just, as predicted, a prau arrived seven days later, which took them to Rote. Sarai began to work now under the leadership of Pastor Gideon, and very soon the spirit of revival which had already swept Timor, came upon Rote as well. When Sarai brought the report of her own work to a close, she added, "If I fail to read my Bible for even a single day, I feel as if the Lord accuses me for my negligence. Yet, when I do read a passage from the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit Himself interprets the meaning to me verse by verse."
XIV. WHO WAS RIGHT?
When we arrived at Soe, the team that first amazed us was team number 49. Its leader was a simple illiterate woman.
They had been working in the interior of the island for a period of eight months up to our arrival, but then, this woman had heard the Lord's voice saying to her, "Go back to Soe. An international team of seven Christian workers is going to visit the island soon." It would have been impossible to have contacted the team by either post or telephone, since these forms of communication hardly exist in the island's interior at all. The team started making their way back to Soe on foot, and when they arrived they went to Superintendent Joseph and asked him, "Has the international team arrived yet, with the seven Christian workers from overseas?" "No," replied Joseph, "they are not here yet, and anyway, Pak Elias has written and said that there would be ten people coming and not seven." "It can't be ten," the team replied, "for the Lord told us there will only be seven coming." A few days later we reached the island. There were seven of us, and not ten! Three of the Japanese Christians who had intended to accompany us on our visit, had been unable to obtain their visas in time. The 'direct communication' which the team had had with the Lord, was therefore more reliable than the postal communication between Pak Elias and Pastor Joseph.
As we talked with the simple native woman who was leader of this team, we were amazed at the way the Lord had worked in the smallest details of her life. Like many others, she had received her call as a result of a vision, and as is always the case, the vision had been closely associated with the Scriptures. This is the encouraging thing concerning all these miraculous signs, for invariably the person to whom the vision is given is told to turn to the Bible and to read a certain text. If the person is illiterate, the text is read aloud to him and he has to learn it off by heart.
After her call, Mary continued to be given directions from the Lord through both visions and verses from the Bible. On one occasion, she saw an unusually strong light and found herself surrounded by angels. A voice then said to her, "Do not be afraid. At the end of this age the world will be burnt up by this light. You shall be my witness. Go wherever I send you, for the time is very short. The people must repent." Wondering whether or not the voice was genuine, Mary asked, "Who are you?" The voice replied, "The words are mine," and immediately she saw the hands of Jesus appear with the nail prints in the palms. "My hands," the voice continued, "are pierced anew each day by the sins of the whole world." Mary was frightened and replied, "But who will believe me? I'm not even educated." The Lord answered her again and said, "I am giving you five fellow workers." Immediately Mary saw the faces of the five people who were to make up her evangelistic team. The Lord continued, "You shall not speak your own words. I will speak for you, and you will stand behind me."
While Mary was telling Pastor Joseph and our international team the story of her call, she added, "The Lord gave me a song, but I can't understand the words." She then began to sing her song out loud. We were amazed. It was in English, and she sang it without making any mistakes. The words were as follows: I hear my Saviour calling, I hear my Saviour calling, Take the cross and follow me.
The only language that Mary knows is her own Indonesian dialect. She is not even able to speak the official language of the country and can also neither read nor write. Yet, here she was singing a song to us in English, a language which no one in the area in which she lives can speak.
It would take too much time to report all the details concerning the work of the different teams. One could write many books on the subject. The situation is similar to that which John the apostle found himself in when he wrote, "I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that could be written" (John 20:25). Jesus is the same today as he was 1,900 years ago.
XV. FROM PERSECUTOR TO DISCIPLE
Andrew is a police officer. While our international team was staying in Soe, we were able to hear him give his own testimony. He told us the following story.
"When the revival originally broke out on Timor, I was one of its chief opponents. I decided to go out of my way to persecute the Christians, and when Saul started preaching in the schools, I had him arrested and beaten up at the police station. I even tore off his moustache in the process.
The reason I was so strongly opposed to the Christians was because my own life was deeply involved in occultism. I come from the island of Sumba where a great deal of black magic is still practised. Whenever a person leaves the island, he takes a number of fetishes and charms with him to protect himself wherever he goes. When I myself left, I took 66 of these fetishes with me. Once, when a man tried to cut my throat with a bush knife, the knife bounced off my skin and I wasn't even hurt. The black stones I wore as a means of protection were very effective; otherwise I would have been killed. There were altogether 36 of these stones hidden under my skin in various parts of my body. I continued to oppose the revival movement for almost four years until I finally fell ill in February of this year (1969). The doctors could find nothing wrong in me at the time, but they took my appendix out just in case. However, there was no improvement in my condition, for the real cause was not my appendix at all, but rather the unforgiven sin of my occult practices. In the end, because I feared that my disease might be incurable, I went to see a believing brother who showed me the way to Jesus. That night the Lord appeared to me in a wonderful light. When I had surrendered my life to him completely, my body was immediately healed. While I continued in prayer, my skin gradually began to split open and the stones of sorcery that were buried underneath came out. After this, the Lord commanded me, "Give your testimony before the whole church or else your illness will return. I have now done what he told me to do."
Our international team was actually present when Andrew gave his testimony for the first time. I asked him afterwards, "Have all the stones come out yet and did you have to have any of them cut out?" He replied, "No, there's still one of the stones left, it's the mother stone in fact. See, it's here near my collar bone. You can feel it if you want to." I reached my hand out and touched the place he indicated. The stone was about twice the size of a thimble. Andrew went on, "It has taken two weeks for the other 35 stones to come out, but none of them were cut out. We have just had to pray, and as we have done so the skin has broken open and the stones have come out one by one. We'll have to pray a lot more though, before the mother stone is removed, because it's that stone which possesses the greatest occult power." I have since heard that the last stone has now broken through his skin, and so, by the grace of God, the ban on Andrew's life has been completely broken.
XVI. A SORCERER CAPITULATES
Just before our arrival on Timor, a man who had been much feared by the people in the neighbourhood was converted. We were able to listen to his testimony, too, at the church in Soe. While he was waiting his turn to get into the pulpit and speak, he looked as white as a sheet and was trembling all over at the thought of having to speak before an audience which must have totalled almost a thousand people. By the means of an interpreter, I was able to take down the following account of what he said.
Titus first called upon Satan for help when he was only 15 years old. "Give me magical powers," he begged. He had been brought up as an animist, and as a result was dominated by an occult view of life. At the time, when he first called on the devil, he heard a voice answer him and say, "Come out to the front of your house." He had obeyed and was further commanded, "Hold out your right hand." As he did so, an invisible force suddenly cut his hand across the fingers and he saw a small stone being placed into the wound. At once, the stone began to travel up his arm and into his heart and then down the other arm, following the blood–stream as it went. He found that, as a result of his satanic gift, he was endowed with great power. There was not a person who could stand in his way. Using his powers of evil, he began to steal, to kidnap people, and to seduce the native women, and he was even able to kill. He got a job, first working for the local authorities, but they later sacked him on account of his evil practices. Although the police was often after him, he was never caught, his magical belt providing him with the protection he desired. Magical phenomena of this nature exist also in other parts of the world, and in Germany, for example, the saga of Siegfried is based upon the same idea. In the East, however, these powers are very real, for the prince of darkness is able to endow his servants with the very powers of hell themselves.
In March 1969 Titus, finally, came to Christ. His conversion resulted from a vision which the Lord gave him of the archangel Gabriel, and yet on the day of his baptism, the 1st April, he had still not been fully delivered from his occult past. But, at least the stone had stopped moving, and it was once more back in his right hand where it had originally entered his body.
When I talked with Pak Elias about this and asked him why the stone had not come out at his conversion, he replied, "Perhaps it will act as a thorn in the flesh and serve as a continual reminder to Titus of his former evil ways. The most important thing is that the stone has been robbed of all its power through the blood of Christ." It is still possible for the stone to come out one day, for just as in the case of Andrew, a magician is not always delivered from all the evil influences around him on the day of his conversion.
In June 1969, Titus became very ill. For three days, he was unable to eat anything and started suffering from a high fever accompanied with bouts of shivering and stabbing pains in the chest. The illness, however, was used by God to call Titus into His service. On the 1st July at midday he suddenly heard a voice saying to him, "Titus, listen to me. You will not eat for two periods of six hours, for I wish to speak with you. I am giving you a staff to use." Titus asked, "What shall I do with this staff?" The voice replied, "You must use it to destroy the Islamic faith, to destroy Buddhism, to destroy animism, and to destroy Catholicism. These have been the cause of much harm in Indonesia." It was astonishing to hear of Catholicism being mentioned together with the other three religions. It would seem as if the Lord does not approve of the present day ecumenical aims of the churches.
When Titus received his first commission, he was still partly conscious and he was able to hear his wife talking about him and making fun of him while she was doing the cooking. However, when the Lord spoke to him the second time, he was completely unconscious of his surroundings. "I have called you into my service," the Lord began, "Preach the Word. Are you prepared to serve me?" Titus replied, "I'm not the right person for you. I've been one of the worst men in the village." The Lord refused to let him go. "I want you to be mine. Abide in my love. Read Jeremiah 48:10, the first part of the verse, and read John 15:9. As a bird leaves its nest and later returns, so I will lead you to places far away and bring you home again."
During the next stage of his call the angel Gabriel appeared to him and said, "I have been commanded by the Lord to take you into the heavens" (2 Cor. 12:2, 3). Together they arrived at the first heaven. Titus could still see the sun and the moon and the stars. Walking across a bridge they came to a large gate which opened by itself. Gabriel turned to him and said, "This is the second heaven. Here the sun and moon and stars do not exist." When they had entered the gate, Titus found the second heaven to be filled with a marvellous light. They continued on their walk crossing bridge after bridge and passing through one gate after another. Gabriel spoke to Titus again and said, "You are highly favoured to be able to see what your eyes are seeing. Others who have been here have fallen to the ground as if dead" (Rev.1:17).
Titus became more and more conscious during his journey through the heavens of the tremendous difference that exists between the terrestrial and the heavenly spheres. "The reason you have been permitted to see all these glories," the archangel told him, "is that you might proclaim them to the rest of mankind. Do not cast your eyes back to your past life, for if you do you will lose everything."
Gabriel continued to lead him until they had reached the seventh heaven, whereupon he said, "This is the new heaven." Titus was overwhelmed by the glory of this highest of heavens. There, before him, he saw tables prepared as it were for a great feast, stretching for miles into the distance. The seats were of silver and gold and each was designated for the person for whom it was prepared. The tables themselves were richly decked and laden with heavenly manna. Around the tables ornaments swayed in fan–like motion producing a fragrant and refreshing breeze. At the end of the tables there were two seats prepared for the bride and bridegroom. Gabriel said to Titus, "Tell the people to repent and to follow Jesus so that they will be ready for the marriage feast of the Lamb" (Luk.14:16–24; Matt. 22:2–24; Rev. 19:6–10). After this, Titus was struck by a beam of light and he sank to the ground as the vision of the seventh heaven disappeared from his sight. Gabriel touched him on the shoulder and lifted him to his feet. He was then led back the way he had come. Stepping out of the last palace, Titus saw on his left a stream flowing with milk and honey and on his right a stream flowing with gold and silver. The streams flowed through the middle of the paradise of God. As they continued to walk along the wide street that led through this veritable Garden of Eden, Titus turned to Gabriel and asked, "Is this the place of the righteous, and if it is, where is the place of the wicked?" Gabriel replied, "The Lord has not allowed you to see the place of hell itself. However, I can show you the roads that lead there." With that, Titus had a vision of three broad ways so crowded with men and women that he was unable to see any of their faces. Titus was filled with horror at the sight of these three massive columns of people marching endlessly on to the place of hell. He started calling out, "Go in through the narrow door and you will be saved." But no one heard or heeded his cry.
After his vision of the lost, Titus received the last vision connected with his call. He saw the Lord Jesus amid seven angels, four on his right side and three on his left. Suddenly, Jesus fell upon him and immediately Titus felt in his body that he had been healed. His spirit was now on the point of entering the earthly sphere again, and he saw his house and his family come into view once more. His vision then ended with the sight of the angels falling upon his relatives who were also healed in a moment. Among them was his wife who had previously been ill for a number of years.
At midnight that night, Titus was once again fully conscious. The two visions had lasted for exactly six hours each, just as the Lord had predicted. He found that as well as himself, his wife and children had also been completely restored to health and strength after this experience.
Titus now knew, assuredly, that he had been called into the service of the Lord. He was next told to recount his vision before the assembled church. At first, Satan, tried to hinder him from doing so, and he received a terrible bite in his leg from a large dog. However, after he had prayed, the wound healed up completely and was better by the following day. When he did finally give his testimony, I was seated in the church listening to him speak.
These visionary experiences pose us many questions. How should we classify them from the point of view of the Scriptures?
The revival on Timor is in itself an extraordinary event of which these extraordinary signs are but a part.
The visions are a result of the Holy Spirit falling upon these simple native Christians.
These miraculous signs have a double purpose: they serve to announce the nearness of the Lord's return, and they act as a fulfilment of the promises in Joel 3:1 and Acts 2:17. Many, indeed, are the prophecies which announce that the Lord's coming is near. The time is short!
The visions are closely associated with the Holy Scriptures.
The recipients of these spiritual experiences are ever open to correction from their brothers in the Lord if something amiss is discovered in their lives.
These visions are never greater than the One who is their author.
Our faith can never be founded upon a visionary experience, only upon the redemptive work of Christ on the cross and upon his resurrection from the dead.
God does not always send a vision before he calls a person into his service. The most important thing is obedience to the Word of God.
If visions ever become an end in themselves, they merely lead to a desire for the sensational and to pride. If this is the case, instead of being a blessing they can become a curse.
We must guard against criticizing these visionary experiences in Indonesia too hastily, without due regard to what the Scriptures have to say on the matter.
XVII. THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST
Although we have heard the testimony of Pak Elias already in this book, I want now to go on to describe some further stories connected with his work as an evangelist and minister of the Word. I have been able to meet this brother in the Lord on altogether three occasions. The first was in East Java in 1968, the second in Germany when I organized a series of meetings at which both Pak Elias and David Simeon spoke, and the third time was when we were together in Indonesia again at the conference in East Java and then with the International team on Timor. But, before going on, let me underline a principle which we can so easily forget. If we were to indulge in the adulation of a man, we would be committing idolatry. We must always remember: the cries of Hosanna in Jerusalem were not intended for the ass, but for the Lord who sat upon it. Today we are often in danger of forgetting the Lord and thinking only of the ass.
A total of sixteen months separates this second section from that which precedes it. In this time, I have been able to collect a number of stories which help supplement our first report concerning Pak Elias.
Pak Elias was preaching once on an island in Indonesia, when the Lord sent a revival among the Moslems living there. Seeing that many of his own people were being converted, a deaf Moslem, who, as a boy, had learnt to read before his illness, began to read the local reports of what was taking place. In the end, coming to Pak Elias, he said, "If the Jesus whom you preach can make me hear, I will believe in him." Pak Elias sensed that his work was being challenged, and so when the Lord gave him the inner freedom to pray, he prayed for the man under the laying on of hands. As he did so, the Moslem suddenly felt a force flowing through his ears. When the prayer was ended, finding he could once again hear, he handed his life over to Christ as he had promised.
While Pak Elias was preaching on the same island, a rich Moslem attended one of the meetings he was holding. Although the man was touched by the message, he subsequently stayed away, for it had made him feel extremely uneasy. However, with just three evenings to go before the mission ended, the Moslem's chief wife encouraged him to go just one more time. Again, the message gripped his heart, and speaking to Pak Elias later he said, "If you can help me, I will give you a new car." The evangelist replied, "God can help you, but you needn't give him a car in return." "Is that really true?" asked the rich man, "I have committed many sins, as the people here well know. I have 16 wives, and have stolen a lot of money, and I have even committed murder." As Pak Elias showed him the way to Christ, both the Moslem and his chief wife were converted. After openly confessing his sins, he gave his other wives money and allowed them to go free, while he and his chief wife went home determined to live a new life for their Lord. On another island, where it was forbidden to preach the Gospel publicly, Pak Elias climbed into a taxi and started to tell the other passengers about Christ. A few months later, he heard the joyful news that the actual taxi driver had been converted as a result of his taxi–preaching.
A professor once came to Pak Elias and said to him, "Although I’m a Christian, when I read the Bible I get nothing from it." The evangelist replied, "There are three types of Bible readers:
a) The first type merely tramples over the Scriptures looking for arguments with which to mock their contents;
b) The second type of reader, bowing down to his own intellect, critically examines anything which to him is unreasonable and reduces it to the level of his own human understanding;
c) The third type of Bible reader, on the other hand, gives the Scriptures their rightful place, and thereby places himself in subjection to the Word of God."
To this, the professor replied, "I can see that I belong to the second group." However, the next morning he came to see Pak Elias again, and after confessing his sins and surrendering his life to Christ, he submitted both himself and his reason once and for all to the authority of the Scriptures.
One of the greatest events during the revival consisted of the missionary campaign which was held in West Irian (New Guinea) in March 1969. When Pak Elias first got up to preach, the rain started to pour down in torrents. There were some thousands of people gathered in the open air at the time. Turning to prayer, the evangelist quite simply commanded the rain to stop in the name of Jesus. It ceased immediately. He then prayed that the Lord would keep the whole meeting free of rain, and so it happened. Not until the meeting had drawn to a close, did the rain begin to teem down again. The following evening, a very strong wind began to howl around the building in which the meeting was to be held. As the wind increased, the building's corrugated iron roof began to bang and rattle so much that it was impossible to hear a single word of what the evangelist was saying. Again Pak Elias stopped, and turning to the wind he commanded it in the name of Jesus to be still. Before an audience, which, again, ran into thousands and which included, among other people, the German missionary Willi Haseloh, the wind ceased.
During this 18 day mission in West Irian, almost three thousand people were converted. At the same time, some 250 young men dedicated themselves to full–time gospel work.
God has also honoured the private prayers of his servant. One night Pak, Elias saw himself hovering over a distant land, and as the vision ended, he suddenly found himself praying in a language he did not understand. Memorizing what he had said, he was amazed to find, a few months later when he visited Thailand, that the language he had used was that of the Thai people. His experience, therefore, had not simply been one of speaking in tongues, but rather a miracle similar to that which occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
It is an unforgettable experience to be able to accompany this brother in his work for the Lord. And yet, like all other servants of God, he needs our prayers so that the blessing he receives may not result in pride and so rob him of his spiritual power. Above all he needs, the gift of being able to discern between spirits to enable him to distinguish between the extreme and the fanatical on the one hand, and the spiritual and charismatical on the other.
XVIII. THE SONGS OF THE REVIVAL
Travelling about as a missionary, I have often had the opportunity of listening to Christians express themselves in music and in song. Occasionally, in the Western world, I have been able to witness the technical perfection of a professional choir, only to be left untouched by a delivery issuing from unbelieving hearts. What is technique if the Lord himself is missing?
In Barrow in Alaska I was particularly moved by the singing of the Christians in the Presbyterian Church. The life and the fervour it possessed compelled me to tape and record it for myself.
I have already described, elsewhere, the wonderful singing of the Christians in Ambon, Indonesia, which meant so much to me at the time.
However, nothing I have heard before compares with the singing I was enabled to hear in the actual revival centre on Timor. The wealth of songs in the revival churches is indeed amazing.
Although they continue to sing some of the traditional hymns of the Reformed Church, they do so with hearts and voices and spirits renewed by the Holy Spirit. In this way, the old tunes are filled with fresh spiritual meaning.
The true songs of the revival, however, are those which have literally been inspired. The teams have not only seen visions and heard voices, but have actually been given songs directly from the Lord. Sometimes, these simple but much blessed Christians have had new melodies sung to them up to twenty different times until they have learnt the words and the tune off by heart. What a joy it is to hear them singing these hymns; they have learnt them from the very angels themselves. There is such a surge of joy and feeling moving through the church that one is not only gripped by the music, but is also transported to the realms of the choirs of heaven. It must have been the same type of singing that captivated the shepherds outside Bethlehem on the night of the Saviour's birth.
Before moving on with our report, we will just mention one example, an example which is sure to provoke a lot of criticism from the Western world.
One day, a group of children who had been caught up in the revival began to sing about their Lord as they made their way home from school. Walking along, they came across a spot where a number of rocks of various sizes were strewn about over the ground. Suddenly, they heard a voice from among the rocks say to them, "You have sung very well. Let me teach you a new song about Jesus. Stay here while I sing to you." Replying, the children said, "We're very hungry. We'll go home first and have something to eat." They hurried on. When they had taken their school things into their homes, they found that their hunger had disappeared. They came out of their huts and met each other again and decided to return to the place of the stones. When they arrived, they heard the same voice speaking to them a second time. It, then, sang a song to them and told them to repeat the words after it. They did so, and after hearing the song through about twenty times, they had both the words and the tune fixed indelibly in their minds. They, then, returned to the village singing as they went. When the leader of the Bible school heard the song, he wrote it down together with the music, and he later showed them both to me in his notebook.
A psychologist or a parapsychologist would have the gravest of difficulties in attempting to explain the facts behind an experience of this nature, and yet it is not easy to deny the truth of the story, seeing that both the words and the tune are still in existence today.
XIX. PRESENTING A FALSE PICTURE
If a historian from the West were to write a history of the Russian Revolution, his account would no doubt differ a great deal from one which had been written by a 'red author' from an iron curtain country. The alleged objectivity of certain writers is often a very debatable point and depends a great deal on the attitude they adopt.
In this respect, I have come across a number of strange and even false reports of the various revivals which have recently taken place in the world and, for this reason, I feel it my duty to act, in a certain way, as a watchman in these matters.
In Germany a Christian member of one of the Pentecostal churches said to me, "You know that the Indonesian revival was brought about by the Pentecostals? In fact, they are the only Christians through whom it could have come." In the same way, a member of the T. L. Osborn organization declared, "The revival has come as a direct result of our own work in the area."
One would feel quite happy to ignore statements of this nature, were it not for the fact that comments such as these are already finding their way into the various reports of the revival which are currently appearing in the Christian press all over the world.
What I am saying is in no way meant to be an attack on the Pentecostal movement as a whole; for, in fact, since I became a Christian, I have never adopted a narrow denominational attitude. There are false teachers to be found in every confessional group, and the modern theologians who today occupy the pulpits of so many of the established churches of our lands represent a far greater danger to the Christian faith than these Pentecostal believers who have simply confused that which is carnal with the spiritual.
I have a duty, as one who is acquainted with the Indonesian revival today, to indicate, as clearly as I can, the actual boundaries of the spiritual events which are taking place there.
First of all, here is something positive. Pak Elias, who is more familiar with the revival than most people, said to me once, "There are some wonderful brethren among the Pentecostals in Indonesia who serve the Lord with all their hearts and who are open to the ministry of the Holy Spirit."
However, on the whole the revival broke out in the Reformed Church rather than in the Pentecostal churches. For example, there was a small Pentecostal church some ten miles from the centre of the revival, and when the members saw the spiritual renewal taking places in the Reformed churches, and realized they themselves were being left untouched by the blessing, they closed their own church and went back and joined the Reformed Church.
There are three Pentecostal groups in K. which have all remained on the outside as far as the revival is concerned. A circular letter called 'God is Marching on', written by one of the leading missionaries in the area, contains an excellent appraisal of this problem. He writes, "It is quite astonishing to see how God is protecting the revival from false and extreme forms of teaching. While I was staying in one of the centres of the revival, some overseas Christians arrived and expressed their desire to preach on the island. Although their views concerning the working of the Holy Spirit were rather strange, they were nevertheless genuine believers. By means of the gift of prophecy, which is frequently found on Timor, the leaders of the churches in the area were warned beforehand that some false teachers would arrive from overseas. And here they were now. The visitors were amazed at the way in which the native Christians stood their ground and refused them permission to speak in their pulpits and before their people. Although I have seen almost all the gifts of the Holy Spirit manifested in these revived Presbyterian fellowships on Timor, not one of these churches has any connection with the Pentecostal movement."
The history of the revival contains many other stories of a similar nature to the one we have just heard. David Wilkerson has spoken in both England and Germany on the invitation of certain groups of Christians in these countries. After visiting the town of Soe in the centre of the revival area for a few hours, he sent some money to the leader of the Bible School there, inviting him to go to America to speak at a series of meetings. The native leader went to Pak Elias and asked him for his advice. After praying together, recognizing that it was not the Lord's will, they sent the money back and declined the invitation. On another occasion Pak Elias was offered about £900 to visit the United States of America. Again though, after prayer, he declined the offer. These experiences seem to show that our Indonesian brothers have a greater gift of discernment than many Christians in both England and Germany.
The following short example also underlines what we have just been saying. As I have already mentioned, Pak Elias and David Simeon spoke at a number of meetings I had arranged for them in April 1969 in Germany. When Pak Elias was calling on the 3,000 people at the Stuttgart meeting to surrender their lives to Christ, as he remained quiet for a few minutes in silent prayer, a man on the platform suddenly stood up and started to pray 'in tongues'. After waiting for just a moment, Pak Elias turned to the man and commanded him in the name of Jesus to be quiet. When I asked him later, after the meeting, why he had spoken to the man in this manner, he replied, "The Lord showed me that the devil was using this interruption to try and disturb the meeting." The other brother from Indonesia then explained to me, "It often happens that when one comes to the point of urging people to repent and to turn their lives over to Christ, the Pentecostals slip into tongues speaking and thereby hinder people from making their decision." A little while after this, I found the man who had actually spoken in tongues and asked him what had prompted him to do so. He began, at once, to apologize and said, "I didn't want to speak in tongues but something inside just made me do it." We should ask ourselves what is happening when the spirit of a prophet is not subject to the prophet!
In Indonesia, I was present when a girl started to pray in tongues at one of the meetings. When she had finished, however, no one rose to interpret what she had said. Afterwards, one of the leading Indonesian Christians rebuked her saying, "Don't you know your Bible? It's written that a person should keep silent if there is no one to interpret." The Indian evangelist, Bakth Singh, was also present at the time and he said to me later, "Immediately after the girl stood up and began to speak in tongues, I started praying that she would stop, for I knew that what she was doing wasn't good."
While I was on Timor, I asked the leaders of the revival what part tongues–speaking was playing in the movement. Their reply was quite astonishing. "Within a space of about 21/2 years some 200,000 natives have become Christians. We have, at the same time, experienced thousands of cases of healing, together with many other miracles of faith, and yet we know of only one single instance of a person speaking in tongues, and even then the person doesn't use his gift in public."
What a crushing blow this statement must be to the numerous fanatic advocates of the present day tongues movement. Among a total of 200,000 new converts and some 30,000 miracles of healing, only one single case of a person speaking in tongues! There may, in fact, be others who have received this gift, but like all who genuinely possess a gift from God, they will not broadcast the fact, but simply use it to praise their Lord in secret. One can see that as Paul the apostle urged in his first letter to the Corinthians, speaking in tongues plays a very insignificant part in the revival in Indonesia, that is, if it can be said to play any part at all. Anyone who tries to inject this gift into the revival movement from outside - and this has already been attempted by three misguided brothers from the West - will find that he is labelled as a false teacher by the Lord himself. The Christian leaders in the area are prevented from allowing such people to work with them in any form whatsoever.
XX. FIRE OVER ROTE
While I was on Timor the news reached us that 30 temples had been burnt down on the neighbouring island of Rote. This happened in the summer of 1969. What, we may ask, was the background to the story? It was quite simply that the revival on Timor had spilled over on to Rote with the result that when the natives had been converted, they had straightway burnt down their heathen temples which had been filled with their fetishes and charms, wanting nothing more to do with their former way of life. But this was not the first fire they had, like a torch of God, heralded in a new epoch on the island.
The Place of Sacrifice
On the west coast of Rote, a massive shoulder of rock reaches out into the sea. For centuries, this site has been used by the natives for the sacrifices they have made to their heathen gods of nature, and many are the mysteries surrounding the caves in the rock.
In the 18th century, the island was inhabited by 19 different kings who were continually engaged in wars with one another. Finally, one of the kings defeated 16 of his opponents and subsequently the sacrificial site of Tolamanu was named after him. The remaining two kings, Foembura and Ndiihua, decided on a desperate plan. Knowing that the Dutch authorities were located in Batavia (known today as Djakarta), and hoping to receive help from them, they prepared some small sailing boats with the intention of attempting the 1,500 mile journey to what is now the capital of Indonesia. They took as provisions, maize roasted in sugar, intending to supplement their diet with fish and bananas, the latter being found on all the islands in the area. They intended, also, to obtain their drinking water from these islands when they needed more. And so, in 1729 the adventure commenced.
On account of the many adverse currents and ever changing wind conditions, the journey lasted altogether six months. Their boats each bore the symbolic name 'Sangga ndolu' which means 'we seek peace and powers'. They were hoping, in some way, that the colonial authorities would be able to supply them with enough magical powers to enable them to withstand their enemy Tolamanu. At the same time, they hoped to find rest from the tribal feuds that continually raged on their island.
When they did finally reach Batavia, however, they came face to face with a new problem: the people spoke a different language from their own. Had the journey just been a waste of time? The answer was no, for God, in his great mercy and wisdom, had prepared the way before them. While they were in Batavia, they one day came across a woman who had originally been born on the island of Rote. Recognizing their clothing to be that of her native island, she went up to them and spoke to them. Their faces lit up at once at the sound of someone speaking to them in their native tongue.
But, how had their interpreter come to be living so far from her country of birth? While she had been living on Rote, she had one day met a sailor who had fallen so much in love with her that he had married her at once and taken her with him on board his ship. And so, here she was acting as the advocate and interpreter of the two kings. They were introduced to the Dutch governor but were disappointed to find that the colonial authorities were not in possession of the magical powers they were looking for. However, the governor acted wisely and, after contacting a Dutch missionary, he placed the strangers under his care.
It was through this that the two kings ultimately found peace, not the type they had originally sought, but one based upon faith in Christ. They were both converted and later baptised, receiving at, their baptism, the new Christian names of Meshach and Zachariah. When I visited Rote, I was overjoyed to find that Christian descendants of these two kings still live there. Pastor Gideon, whose story I have already described on page 117, is in fact himself a descendant of the king who was renamed Zachariah.
The joy that the two kings experienced from their new found faith was so great that, when they decided to return to Rote, they left a number of their servants behind in Batavia as tokens of their thankfulness. They were accompanied on their homeward voyage by the same missionary through whom they had first heard the gospel message, and he took the opportunity provided him during the journey of acquainting himself with the dialect of Rote. They finally reached home again in 1732, after an absence of altogether three years.
The Sacrificial Fire
For the first time in its existence, the heathen fortress on Rote began to come under attack. The returning kings built the first church and Christian school on the island in a village called Ti. It was not long, though, before their work started to meet with the opposition of Tolamanu. Realizing that his influence was declining, he concocted a devilish plan. Arranging a great feast, he invited the two Christian kings and their missionary friend to be his guests. To allay any suspicion of his evil intent, he also invited the governor of K., who subsequently arrived at the feast accompanied by his secretary. The climax of the evening came when the five unsuspecting guests were suddenly overpowered and bound with ropes. They were, then, placed in a circle of heaped leaves and offered up as sacrifices on the now infamous mountain of Tolamanu. This was the first time a fire had burnt on Rote on account of the Christian faith. It took place in 1732, the same year in which the two kings had returned from Batavia.
But, if Tolamanu had thought that the new religion would now die a natural death, he was sadly disappointed. In Ti, the school and the church continued their work of teaching the islanders the message of Christ, and the fire that had been lit began to spread further. The sacrificial blood of the martyrs bore much fruit. The school was instrumental in the training of many Christian teachers and, as the years passed by, new schools were built on the neighbouring islands with the result that more and more people heard the teachings of the gospel. In this way Rote became the centre of a great missionary work.
In the Hunting Ground of the Sharks
Today, after a period of more than 200 years, Rote has once more become the spiritual focus of this small cluster of islands in Indonesia. Both Pak Elias and Pastor Gideon, whose testimonies we have already heard, are natives of Rote, and God has been using these two men in a mighty way ever since the revival originally began there in 1964. In fact, all the early Christians of the revival have shown and continued to show a remarkable boldness with regard to their faith. The following is a wonderful example of this.
Two ocean currents, one from Australia and the other from the west, meet and clash with one another between the islands of Rote and Timor. The waves can suddenly rise without warning and break over the sides of the small boats which make the perilous journey from Timor to Rote, as we ourselves experienced on a number of occasions on our trips between the two islands. Although I personally was only soaked to the skin, others had to pay for their passage with the tribute people are often forced to give to a troubled sea. For myself, serving in the air force has made me immune to the elements. I watched, though, how perilously the ship would often keel over on its side, and heard from the mayor of B. just how many small sailing ships were lost each year in this troubled stretch of water. The catastrophe which we are about to describe occurred on a similar trip from Timor to Rote. Pastor Gideon, whose own father was aboard the boat when it capsized, related to me the story as it had happened.
A prau or native sailing boat was making its way across this difficult passage when it suddenly capsized just before reaching the island of Rote. Every one of the 30 people on board was flung into the water which teems with sharks. Included among the passengers were two pastors and many genuine Christians. Gideon's father, however, had been prepared for this calamity, since the Lord had warned him beforehand that he was about to be called home. Three of the thirty, with much boldness and faith, lifted their Bibles to heaven and cried out from the sea, "Lord, you have said that you will be with us in the waters. If it is your will, we ask you to save us." With this, the three young men began to swim towards Rote in an attempt to reach the shore. Because of the strong current, however, they were driven away from Rote towards the island Semau. Since the catastrophe had taken place at night, they were unable to see the land at all. For twelve hours, they continued to fight the sea and the waves, taking it in turn to pray aloud while they were swimming. Unbelievably, not a shark came near them. It was as if God had shut their mouths even as he had shut the jaws of the lions when Daniel had been thrown into their den. Moreover, none of the swimmers was overcome by exposure or by the rough seas.
The next day, they were washed ashore on Semau, but in spite of their terrible ordeal, they at once hired a boat and returned to the scene of the disaster in an attempt to save the people they had left behind. Pastor Gideon's father had actually called to them to bring a boat when they reached land. But there was no one to be found. The remaining 27 had all drowned. The tragedy occurred in 1966, but it was marked by the occasion of a notable miracle. The Bibles in the raised hands of the three young men became symbolic of their salvation, and it was discovered that when they finally reached the shore, they not only still had their Bibles with them, but the Bibles had not been damaged at all by the sea water.
In a Small Village
On Rote, I found myself in the company of two native pastors, Pastor Micah, the former minister of the local church, and Pastor Gideon. Micah's church had consisted of a group of 30 Christians, yet, many of these had been addicted to the strong alcoholic drink which we have already mentioned, called palm wine. This wine is obtained from the sugar palm, and there are, in fact, many of these trees dotted around the village. After Pastor Gideon had taken over the pastorate of the church, revival had swept through the village, and today every one of the villagers belongs to the church, whose membership amounts to some 300 people including the children. Each week, they hold a total of six meetings. On Mondays the church workers come together to pray and to talk about their work. In all about 23 of the church members attend this meeting. On Tuesdays a second meeting is held for the 60 or so young people in the village, and on Wednesdays the women meet together for their time of prayer and fellowship. The weekly Bible study is held on Thursdays and this is attended by almost all the adults in the village. Then, on Sundays there are the two worship services of the church. When a three months Bible course was started in B. with the aim of training young evangelists, 18 young people volunteered to attend from Pastor Gideon's church alone. Whereas in Europe, the missionary societies are crying out for new recruits, the young people on Rote and Timor have to queue up to be accepted, for the simple reason that there are not enough places to go round. In fact, I met one young teacher on Rote who had already been praying for a year that she would be accepted by one of the Bible schools for missionary training. This is the difference between tradition and revival.
One event, in particular, which occurred at the village, deserves to be mentioned. A few years ago, William Nagenda, who comes from Uganda, visited Indonesia. He spoke to the Christians there on the theme of walking in the light. What does this mean? During the revival in Africa, the Christians began to confess their sins openly to one another. William Nagenda's own testimony illustrates this practice well. Before his conversion, he had been the director of a tax office, and had regularly taken the opportunity of stealing from his employers. However, when he had become a Christian, he went to the police and confessed to them his crime. During the court case which followed, the judge, who had never come across a case like this before where a man had been his own accuser, allowed William Nagenda to go free. Such a confession of sin was a radical course of action to take, yet, other Christians began to follow his example and to put their own lives in order.
This story made a deep impression on the Christians in Indonesia and many groups of believers were led of God to bring their own sinful deeds into the light. In the village where I was staying, the Christians had begun to confess their sins openly to one another and to pray for one another that their lives might be ordered aright. In this way, the church remained in full control; one thing within the revival fellowships on Rote, though: the sins of others are not bandied about.
A Memorial to Prayer
The doors of Rote have remained wide open to the gospel message ever since the revival came to the island. Wherever one travels, one can feel the effect of the spiritual atmosphere. When I first visited the office of the district president who governs the whole of the island, it seemed only natural to spend a short time in prayer together with him. The same was true at the homes of the mayor of B. and the mayor of T. who are, both, believing Christians. Where could one find a situation like this in the West? There was even an opportunity of having fellowship in prayer at the passport control on the island. It seems as if one is being plunged into an entirely different world, and this was brought home to me particularly by the following experience.
Having hired the only privately owned jeep on the island, I drove out, one day, to see the site of the new airport. Again, I found that one was able to enjoy Christian fellowship not only at the airport, but even on the landing strip itself. I could hardly believe my eyes when I was shown what had taken place there in recent days. Rote is, in fact, very difficult to reach from the surrounding islands, as it has no connections by either ship, plane or rail with the main traffic routes in the area. And, the frequent loss of the sailing boats which travel to the island has already been mentioned. For this reason, the government sent an extremely capable civil officer to the island to organize the building of an airport there.
The events which followed his arrival are absolutely unique. The airstrip was started on the 7th July 1969, and within the space of three weeks it had almost been completed. How was the work carried out so quickly? The answer rests on the people of Rote themselves. Without receiving any wages, they organized the labour forces and completed the task with no outside help at all. During the first week, about 3,500 of the islanders, both men and women, volunteered to begin work on the project. In the second week, the number of workers rose to 5,000, and in the third week another 3,000 turned up at the site to work. They slept out in the open at night, and for their meals they ate what rice they had brought with them to nourish them during their work. Their first job consisted of felling the trees. Since they had neither saws nor axes, they used their bush knives instead, burning the trees after they had cut them down. Next, they cleared away the roots with tools simply made from hard wood, as there were no spades on the island either. The stones were broken in pieces by using harder stones to crack them, and then the complete landing strip, which measures roughly 55 yards by 1,200 yards, was covered with gravel to the depth of some 16 inches. Finally, a layer of chalk, obtained from coral, was spread over the top. In this way, without tools or machinery or trucks, and by simply using baskets on poles to carry the chalk to the site, the work was completed by the natives walking barefoot over the sharp coral chalk. It only remained to wait for rain, so that the water would dissolve the chalk which would then cement the stones together.
Every morning before work began, a short time of fellowship was held, and every evening the gospel was preached to the people on the landing strip itself. Over a thousand natives were present on each occasion. In spite of having to sleep out in the open, it was noted that not a single person fell sick throughout the whole operation, and when the workers returned to their homes they declared, "Nobody was taken ill because we committed everything to the Lord in prayer." During the three weeks it took to construct the airstrip, over ten thousand different people heard the gospel message. The task of preaching fell on the shoulders of three full–time evangelists, including Pastor Gideon. Although there were another 40 Christian workers present at the time, they were unable to deal with all the people who came to them to be counselled and to confess their sins. The building of the landing strip, therefore, served a dual purpose in that not only was a site prepared on which planes would land in the future, but the opportunity was taken to preach the gospel in the present. In the field of missionary work, this story has no equal. Oh yes, landing strips have been built before on other mission stations throughout the world, but the landing strip at R. is not simply a track just a few hundred yards long with no real foundation. Instead, it is a regular runway constructed on a genuine hardcore foundation. Even in Europe or the United States with the help of the latest machinery, a runway of this nature would have taken far longer than three weeks to build. And, on top of all this, there was no architect present to direct operations. Those who visit the airport are almost lost in words when attempting to describe this 'three week wonder'. As I drove along the length of the runway, I thought of how wonderful it would be to be present when this miracle of the prayers and efforts of the natives on Rote is ceremonially opened and the first plane lands on the island.
It was quite characteristic of the Christians there to find that, from the day construction, they did not cease to pray that the island would be kept free of tourism and all the evils this modern industry involves. It is quite distressing to see how much these native Christians are fearful of the influence of the West, in spite of the way in which the Lord has been blessing their work.
The Chief Magician
Although I have already mentioned some of the details of the conversion and life of Pastor Gideon, after having been able to meet and talk with him again following an interval of 16 months, I can now give a continuation of the story I began earlier. The heading of this section is, however, rather misleading as we shall shortly see.
It is quite a spiritual experience to be able to meet this wonderful brother in the Lord. But, again, I have no intention of setting him up on some kind of pedestal, for whatever a man achieves comes only from the Lord.
The number of fellowships in which he preaches has grown since last I met him from 30 to 52, although he must still travel to each of them by foot. But, even if he had a car, he would not be able to use it, for roads suitable for traffic simply do not exist, and although a motor–cycle might enable him to travel along the forest paths more easily, there are none on Rote to be bought. And, even if there were one, nobody would have enough money to buy it. Pastor Gideon refused the idea of having a salary, and when the church offered him financial help, he replied, "No, I want to put into practice the words of Matthew 6:33 and be solely dependent upon the Lord." He continues to practise this principle today. The Lord is so generous though, that he receives more than his colleagues who depend on a salary to supply their daily needs, and he sometimes even supports them.
On the question of salaries, I heard of one jungle pastor receiving a monthly income of only £4. Others seem to receive about £6 to £8 per month for their work. The highest paid minister I ever met received only £14 a month. Wages like these should come as a shock to people in the West, although it must be admitted that the daily lives of these brothers of ours in the Lord are much simpler than those of our own. For example, they receive no bills for electricity, water or main drainage.
These amenities just do not exist in the areas where they live. For them, even bread and potatoes are luxuries, for rice is the main constituent of all their meals. And their shoes are cheaper too - they walk from village to village on their own leather! One pastor, wanting to talk to me in Sumatra, travelled about 120 miles on foot in the tropical heat in order to meet me there. In the end he had been unable to walk another step, his swollen feet being so painful. The first thing I did, when I met him, was to go out and buy him a pair of shoes. Some of my friends on hearing this story have decided to send him a small sum of money regularly in order to supplement the 'huge salary' he receives as a jungle pastor. In eternity the frugality and the sacrifices of these native Christians will overshadow much of the pretended greatness of the servants of God in the West.
Pastor Gideon is a man apart. Through being forced to come face to face with sorcery wherever he goes, in the end he decided to take the bull by the horns. His first mission took him to an ancient sacrificial site which was the subject of many taboos. Within the numerous caves found at the site, card players used to sit day and night practising their terrible art. In many areas, card playing grips the natives almost like a disease. At the beginning of this century, one particular cave used to be frequented by a notorious card player who was a dwarf. He had been an exceptionally cunning player and, when he had died at the age of about 30, he had come to be regarded almost as a kind of god among the other card players. They had placed his coffin in a particularly honoured site in one of the caves, and it later became surrounded by a whole system of taboos. Whenever a person entered the cave, he had to put a small coin into the coffin as an offering. Naturally, as time went by, the money mounted up, but the superstitious people were careful not to attempt to steal any of it. When Pastor Gideon arrived at the site, taking the coffin up in his hands in the name of Jesus he smashed it in pieces on the ground, throwing the money he found in it into the sea below. The natives waited, expecting him to die, for he had broken their sacred taboo, but when nothing untoward occurred, they were filled with awe and began to fear the pastor instead.
This active servant of God, however, was not content with a single victory. Entering the house of a man who had in his possession numerous charms and fetishes as well as many breast plates, swords and magic spears, he found that the wife was ill. The sorcerer spoke to Pastor Gideon and said, “I'm not able to heal my wife with my own magical charms. If you can make her better, I'll forsake my sorcery and burn all my fetishes.” Gideon replied, "You can't bargain with God. Get rid of your charms and fetishes first, and then maybe God will listen to you and answer your prayer." The sorcerer asked to be given time to think about what he should do, but by the next day he had decided that he was prepared to destroy all his articles of magic. Having completed this task, he prayed together with Pastor Gideon for his wife, and the Lord healed her. When the people in the neighbourhood heard about the story, they began to esteem Pastor Gideon even more highly than before.
One of the main bulwarks of occultism in the area was a much feared sorcerer whose magical powers enabled him to kill people instantly. Magicians like this assert that they can send a flying fox to their victim who dies soon afterwards. The sorcerer of our story had built his wife a house beside his own, and although he himself hated Pastor Gideon and all that he stood for, his wife was open to the gospel message. When the pastor visited the woman in her home, a very mysterious thing took place. The sorcerer was lying in a trance in his house next door when suddenly his spirit appeared in the room where Pastor Gideon and the woman were talking. When they saw the ghost, the wife began to cough up blood and to roll her eyes as if she were going out of her mind. At the same time, Pastor Gideon experienced some terrific pains in his back which continued to trouble him all the following night. In the end, he had no other choice than to command the spirit in the name of Jesus to leave. Next day, the pains had disappeared completely. The pastor went to visit the sorcerer a second time. In addition to all his fetishes and charms the evil man possessed a box of sugar which he maintained would cause a person to die if he attempted to move it from where it stood. Ordering a fire to be lit, Pastor Gideon, together with a friend, lifted the box up and brought it outside and destroyed it. He told me later that both he and his fellow believer, together with others who had been standing by watching, had seen blood dripping from the box as they had carried it to the fire. Everyone who knew the sorcerer's power was now convinced that Pastor Gideon would die. But again, when nothing happened, a fear of the pastor spread throughout the whole neighbourhood. Everyone began to say that he possessed greater powers than the sorcerers, and when the pastor entered the houses of the natives, they would automatically surrender all their fetishes to him and allow them to be destroyed.
And so, the 'chief magician' who is feared by all the other sorcerers on the island is none other than a simple believer, who, by the power of Christ, has been able to break down the bulwarks of darkness which once held the people in their grip. As the fetishes within a village are destroyed, the natives become receptive to the gospel message. In fact, the revival only advances when the people's charms have been burnt. Again, I thought it very significant to hear Pastor Gideon say that just as on Timor, "The fetishes must not simply be burnt, but a prayer of renunciation must be prayed over them before their spell is really broken." In the West, theologians are usually unaware of the reality of such phenomena, and even if they are presented with the facts, they generally find them intellectually indigestible. There are certain things that simply do not fit into the Western 'system', and one finds that the kingdom of God often operates according to an entirely different set of rules to those postulated by the unenlightened rationalists of the West.
But, one thing is certain in all these conflicts: Jesus is able to deprive every outpost of sorcery and occultism on Rote of its power. Pastor Gideon is merely the Lord's instrument which He uses to achieve his goal. A Christian never acts in his own name, only in the name and on the authority of the One who bruised the serpent's head on the cross of Calvary.
The Christians on Rote use the same method of evangelization as that which developed on Timor itself. In 1969, there were three teams working on the island, the largest of which consisted of a group of 15 believers under the leadership of a brother named Obed. This team, however, has only been able to work on a part-time basis since Obed is still in active government service. Once, when the team was preaching in an area where the natives had destroyed and burnt down a number of their heathen temples, as they were about to leave, the villagers came and begged them not to go away. Driven by a spiritual hunger for the Word of God, they took hold of the feet of the team members and cried, "Don't go, don't go. We want to hear more about Jesus." It is almost impossible to imagine the scene. In contrast to the West where the churches use anything from beat music to dancing to lure the young people into their meetings, the natives of Indonesia cling to the feet of the Christians in their desperation to hear more of the Word of God. Since judgment is to begin first with the house of God, Western churches should examine themselves to see whether or not they will stand the test.
The leader of the second team on Rote is Samuel, the brother of Pastor Gideon. Although he has never attended a Bible school in his life, the Lord has equipped him with a great deal of spiritual authority. His gifts are similar to those found among the believers on Timor, and he is able to uncover the hidden sins and fetishes of those to whom he speaks. His ministry has resulted in the conversion of many of the islanders.
The last team is led by Naaman. He has a very moving testimony to tell. He was once a leading member of the Communist party in Indonesia, but after the abortive Communist attempt to take over the country, he was arrested and put on the list of those to be executed. The loneliness and despair which overwhelmed him as he waited for the day of his execution finally resulted in bringing him to Christ. He began to pray a great deal in the prison and his heart became at rest. The day arrived on which he was to be shot. The names were called of those who were above him on the list. He waited, knowing he now had only a few more hours to live. But, there was a delay, and when night fell he found himself still in his cell. Suddenly, at midnight he heard a voice saying, "Get up." Naaman thought to himself, "They must be going to shoot me now." But the voice went on, "Leave the prison." It was only then that he noticed that the guards were all asleep, and he was able to escape unhindered. It was exactly like the experience of the apostle Peter when he too was imprisoned and under sentence of death (Acts 12).
Not knowing what to do now, Naaman fled to the forest and hid. His hair gradually grew until it reached his shoulders, and with only a little fruit from the forest to live on, he soon became terribly thin and weak. Finally, driven by hunger, he found his way to a remote village on the island, but when the villagers saw him, he was immediately recognized. They wanted at first to take him along to the nearest police station, but since he had just been bitten by a snake and was hardly able to walk on his swollen foot, they handed him over to the custody of the local mayor until the island's authorities had been informed. That night, the Lord spoke to him again and said, "Do not be afraid. I will send a man to you in the morning and he will give you help." The next morning, a police lieutenant arrived who was also a believer. Recognizing very quickly that they were both Christians, the lieutenant said to him, "You will be interrogated tomorrow. When they ask you certain questions, answer them in exactly the same way as I tell you, and you will not be harmed. If you don't, they will kill you." Obeying his Christian brother, Naaman soon found himself free. He had hardly recovered from his ordeal, however, when he started to preach the gospel. It was evident that his conversion had not been motivated solely by fear, but that he had genuinely committed his life to the Lord. After working for a time on Timor, the Lord told him to form a team and to travel across to Rote where he was to evangelize further. Pastor Gideon described to me the blessing that had followed Naaman to Rote, and how the Lord had confirmed his ministry with signs following the preaching of his Word.
And so, Rote is experiencing a visitation of the Lord as the salvation of God sweeps over the islands of Indonesia.
XXI. THE SPIRITUAL SITUATION IN INDONESIA
Between 1964 and 1970, three distinct groups of people have been touched by the revival in Indonesia. These are: the Moslems, the nominal Christians, and finally the animists or heathen.
When the revival originally began in 1964, it started among the Moslems of southern Sumatra and, in particular, among the poison mixers of whom we have already spoken. There are today some 1,500 converted Moslems in the area, and this includes a number of priests. There has also been a revival among the Moslems in West Java, Sumbawa and in the southern half of Celebes, but this has been on a smaller scale than in Sumatra. Besides the conversion of Moslems in these main areas of the revival, there have also been many cases of individual conversion very similar to that of the apostle Paul outside the walls of Damascus.
Numerically, the greatest effect of the revival has been felt among the nominal Christians in the dead and traditional orthodox churches. Before the revival came to the area, these Christians were characterized by the way in which they still clung to their former heathen occult practices. If a 'Christian' possesses charms or fetishes, he will always return to them in his hour of need. The spiritual outpouring on Rote and Timor fell upon many people who were in this position, and the same was also true in the smaller revival centres in East and Central Java.
The third group we have mentioned is difficult to fit into a unified picture. It is mainly a matter of governmental decree as to which particular religion a citizen of Indonesia is said to belong. Officially, the only recognized religions in the country are Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism and Protestantism. This third group, therefore, can be divided into two sections. It is comprised, in part, of a number of former nominal or leftwing Moslems who have taken refuge under the flag of Christianity where they find it safer to abide on account of their previous connections with Communism. In addition to these, the group includes the animists from whose ranks the Catholic Church obtains numerous candidates for its mass baptism campaigns. As we have mentioned already, the Karo–Batak tribe are included in this number. I have been able to gather some more material since my last visit to the area, which helps a great deal in clarifying the picture. There are, in front of me at this very moment, some reports from a German missionary, together with a number of shorter reports from Christians who have worked in Sumatra and who have followed the history of these mass baptisms from their very outset.
When a whole host of people queue up for Christian baptism, it depends to a large extent, if not entirely, on the attitude of the minister and elders present whether or not those who desire to be baptised are simultaneously led to a living knowledge of the Lord Jesus. In many mission fields today, the spiritual situation is very similar to that of the churches in the West, where many of the pastors and ministers and workers have no personal knowledge of the Lord. Where this is the case, people desiring baptism can have little hope of being guided aright into faith in Christ. Yet, if the church leaders are believing men, as the gospel is preached, genuine New Testament cells are quickly formed and the wind of revival begins to blow. In the Karo–Batak revival, these cells have developed among the majority of those who have come forward for baptism. This is partly the result of evangelistic teams coming into the area from outside. For example, the Christian students in Bandung, after forming a team, went to the district of Karo–Batak and became responsible for a number of genuine conversions in answer to their faithfulness in prayer. The Lord has also revealed himself in the districts where believing missionaries have been working, but these revival groups are in the minority, and on the whole the vast majority of those who have supposedly become 'new Christians' through the campaigns of mass baptism, have been left completely untouched by the revival. But, it would be a small thing for the Lord who has been working in such a wonderful way in Indonesia, to light His fire among the Karo–Batak.
XXII. ASIA'S GREAT OPPORTUNITY
It is time to bring our report to an end. If the Lord will, we shall include further reports in later editions of this book. The revival continues in its state of flux. Every new day brings some fresh revelation from the Lord. In spite of the dangers which threaten it, the blessing is plain for all to see.
Every revival is encompassed by a night of darkness which seeks to drown the work of God under a curse of sin. In Indonesia, the danger which threatens the Christians most, arises from the many visions, miracles and voices which the believers are allowed to receive. We must always remember that our faith can never be built upon supernatural events like these, but only upon the Word of God and the Lord Jesus himself. Up till now, these spiritual revelations have continued to retain their biblical form and divine characteristics, but if these are one day lost and a desire for miracles as an end in themselves, together with the sin of pride which may creep in, then the days of the revival will be numbered. At the moment, though, we can praise God that he continues to guard the work which he has begun.
The true blessing of the revival lies in this: it is utterly dependent upon the written Word of God. The spiritual outpouring is a wonderful expression of the power and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit of God. This revival in Indonesia is a twentieth century Acts of the Holy Spirit. The flood of spiritual power which our brothers and sisters in the Lord are experiencing there gives us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God in all its might, and is God's open door in Asia today.
Dr Kurt Koch