Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sleeping on the Job

This man has a physically demanding job. He pedals his bicycle taxi to earn perhaps one or two dollars for every fare. He’s often honked at and nearly run off the road by cars and motorcycles who don’t want to be behind him. He’s in competition with several other becok drivers, many of whom drive taxis that have a motorcycle instead of a bicycle. While his seat for his passengers is shaded, he toils under the punishing sun. At the end of a good day, he may make $20.

Many people on Sumatra have a similar situation; they work hard and make very little to show for it. When asked why they don’t try something new these men often shrug and say, “This is all I know. What else is there for the likes of me?”

It’s a common situation the world-over; we get into our ruts of what we know and can’t imagine a different life. The life we have makes us weary but what else is there? Jesus invites us all to come to Him when we are weary; He offers us rest and companionship (Matthew 11:28-30). He promises a new life if we will first let go of our old lives for His sake (Matthew 16:25). This is the point where many walk away. Life may be hard, but at least it’s familiar. Instead of grabbing hold of a new life, many people on Sumatra sleep on and miss Christ’s invitation.

Pray for a spiritual awakening on Sumatra.

Pray for millions of Sumatrans to hear and head Christ’s invitation.

Pray for workers on Sumatra to not get discouraged by the sleepy apathy of those they share the Gospel with.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Keeping in Step

These Junior High School girls are participating in a regular exercise at their school. They march through the streets of their town and sing together as they march. The purpose of the exercise is exercise, but it’s also meant to build unity within the school and community. Being out of step with the values of the school and community are highly discouraged.

Community pressure to stay in line is one of the tools to keep the young from rebelling and falling into negative behaviors. The idea of being part of something bigger than yourself is indoctrinated into the thinking of Indonesian children from a young age.

Religion is a key part of community identity. Anyone deviating from the norm will receive pressure to fall back into line. Those who refuse to fall back into line are often persecuted by family and community. The cost of being different is often too much for individuals to bear. It’s perfectly okay to be nominal in your adherence to religion, just don’t break ranks with the rest.

Pray for new believers who are being persecuted for breaking ranks.

Pray for more Sumatrans to understand the value of the Gospel so that they are willing to pay the price of being a follower of Jesus.

Pray for workers to have wisdom, courage, and access to help new believers in the midst of persecution. When persecution starts, workers often lose contact with new believers.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Made to Soar

Sumatrans love to own birds as pets. Most of the birds are small and colorful, but on occasion you might see a big bird of prey like this Golden Eagle. There is something wrong about seeing a majestic bird like this caged. Eagles weren’t made to be caged. They were made to soar!

What is more tragic, birds like this who have been in captivity for a long time forget how to soar. They learn to accept being caged, and may even be fearful to leave their cage. The cage is what they know, and the unknown is scary. Freedom does come with risk and responsibility, but the benefits are far better than captivity.

In a like manner, God didn’t create man to be caged, or enslaved by sin. As an image bearer of the Most High God, man was made to for freedom; to live nobly before the Lord. Many Sumatrans live lives not much different than this caged eagle. They are working to earn forgiveness of sin, but instead of finding freedom the chains are getting thicker and heavier. When they are told of a way to freedom that doesn’t depend on what they do, but on what Christ has done they often reject it. They are comfortable in their self-made cages of religion and tradition, and the thought of being free doesn’t seem like Good News. It seems different, unknown, and scary. To them it seems wrong.

Isaiah reminds us that those who wait upon the LORD will mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31). The peoples of Sumatra will never experience this unless they are first willing to let go of what they have in order to receive what God wants to give to them.

Pray for those caged by sin on Sumatra to hear the Gospel and be set free to soar.

Pray for those who are already soaring to help the newly released to learn how to stretch their wings and soar.

Pray for the caged on Sumatra to desire freedom and to find freedom in Christ.

Pray that they will be willing to let go of the known in order to receive grace that is greater than all their sins. 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Singkil Malay People Group Profile

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV).

The 65,000 Singkil Malay live in the southern part of Aceh Province in northern Sumatra. The Singkil Malay Kingdom was once a rival power to the Acehnese Kingdom. Currently, the Acehnese culture dominates the entire province. However, the Singkil fondly harken back to days prior to Acehnese domination.

Most Singkil Malay make their livelihoods as farmers and fishermen. They adhere to a patriarchal society and give great value to the opinions of the elders in the village. Their language shows connection to the Minangkabau. The largest Singkil clans are the Berampu and Tinambunan.

The Singkil Malay follow Islam mixed with animistic beliefs. They especially revere the grave of Abdul Rauf, who was a great religious leader from their history. Like many people groups on Sumatra, the Singkil often seek the magical power of the shaman or dukun.

There is no indigenous Singkil Malay church. Churches in the area have often been the target of community persecution.

Pray that:

Believers in Singkil will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to show love even in the face of persecution.

Workers will hear the call of God to live among and share the Gospel with the Singkil Malay.

Members of fanatic religious groups will encounter the risen Christ and will become witnesses to their own people group.

Elders in Singkil Malay villages will have dreams and visions of Jesus and use their influence to reach their villages with the Gospel.

The influence of Acehnese culture will not hinder Singkil Malay people from hearing and responding to the Gospel.

The influence of animistic beliefs will be broken by the power of the Holy Spirit.

An indigenous, doctrinally sound, rapidly multiplying Singkil Malay church will soon come into being.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Grace for the Disabled

There is not much support on Sumatra for the medically disabled. This Lampung Pubian man suffered a stroke earlier this year, and has not been able to work since then. He has limited use of his arm and leg. Most disabled folks here on Sumatra end up begging on the streets. If family is unable to care for them, then they often suffer.

Nobody wants to be absolutely dependent. People like to pull their own weight and be productive. This natural independence makes many people resist the Gospel. In order to receive the Gospel people must realize their inability, or even their disability. Jesus cannot save those who think they are strong enough to “pull their own weight.” Only the poor in spirit, those unable to do it on their own, will inherit the Kingdom of God.

Pray for disabled people on Sumatra to be treated with dignity and care.

Pray for Sumatrans to realize their absolute dependence on Jesus to deal with their sin debt.

Pray for believers here to be burdened to show the love of Christ to the disabled.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Give Me One More!

To what can I liken the work of a prayer mobilizer? He is like a captain in charge of the battering ram during the siege of a powerful, well-fortified city. His job is to bring the battering ram of prayer to bear on the gates of the enemy’s stronghold. He and his troops are the focus of every enemy archer on the ramparts. The burning pitch and rocks hurled from the battlements are aimed at them. Yet, to win the war the gate must be shattered. Because of the hazardous nature of the mission, this captain must enlist volunteers willing to charge the gates. The captain must enlist a lot of soldiers, because most of them won’t last for long.

“A bit melodramatic, don’t you think?”

“No, I don’t think it is.” Many people enter into intercession for Unreached People Groups (UPGs) casually, as if it was not that big a deal. Suddenly, things start going wrong. They have problems at work. The car breaks down. The air conditioner has to be replaced. The kids start acting up. The dog dies. Someone gets sick. And they stop praying and never see the connection. Or worse yet, they give up because they get bored. They expected a quick victory and weren’t ready for the long-siege. They weren’t ready for the fiery darts of the enemy.

Praying for UPGs is not like getting into a jet fighter, cursing in at 15,000 feet, pressing a red button, and watching a smart bomb take out the target. If you’re praying for a UPG, you’re taking up the battering ram. You become the enemy’s target.

“Well that’s certainly encouraging!”

“No, it’s not meant to be. But it’s realistic and in line with what I’ve seen mobilizing prayer over the past 12 plus years.”

Here’s how it works. To mobilize prayer you first have to get the prayer requests. Every month I send out reminders to workers to send in their strategic prayer requests. On average 40 percent or more don’t reply for a variety of reasons. So I take what I get and put together prayer guides, calendars, and people group profiles. And then I send the tools by email to over 650 people representing over 100 churches. As I send the email it is like I’m yelling, “Okay, on three. One, two, three, PRAY! BOOM, the battering ram of prayer smashes into the enemy’s gate!!”

Yet every month we have people unsubscribe. I think about the 40% of my co-workers who are not asking me to mobilize prayer. I wonder what they’re facing. Then I cry out to God, “Oh LORD, send me another intercessor to pray for the workers on Sumatra. Just send me one more today!”

There are 53 UPGs on Sumatra with over 40 million souls in them. As I coordinate photos and scriptures to post prayer requests on Facebook I am often overwhelmed by the lostness on this island. We currently have over 380 people who “like” our page. Last month we had over 6,700 hits on our posts. How many prayers does that translate into? I have no clue. But every time I hit post it’s like I’m yelling, “Okay, on three. One, two, three, PRAY! BOOM!!

Thousands of hits is great, but tens of thousands would be better, especially if it’s people that are praying. There are 15 people groups on Sumatra that are unengaged. I think about them and wonder how long before they will get the chance to hear the Gospel? Then I cry out to God, “Oh LORD, send me another intercessor to pray for the peoples of Sumatra. Just send me one more today!”

The church on Sumatra is often fearful and inward focused. Many Sumatran pastors are unsaved and don’t know the Gospel. Many other Sumatran pastors are more concerned about building a bigger meeting house than in reaching the lost. Precious few are interested in learning how to pray for and share with the UPGs of Sumatra. Those who do reach out, and those who believe from among UPGs are often persecuted. As I go to Twitter, I often mobilize prayer for the apathetic and the persecuted church on Sumatra. With every tweet it’s like I’m yelling, “Okay, on three. One, two, three, PRAY! BOOM!!”

I put together a virtual prayerwalk and post it on Vimeo. PRAY! BOOM!! I write a culture article and post it to the secure web page or to Blogger. PRAY! BOOM!! I pin another link for prayer to Pinterest. PRAY! BOOM!! I redo Fast Facts or prayer maps. PRAY! BOOM!! I journey out to gather 1,500 to 3,000 photos, prayerwalk, and share the Gospel with 200 people from 10 different UPGs within an average year. PRAY! BOOM!! I lead a prayer seminar at a local church. PRAY! BOOM!! I sit on the floor on a straw mat at yet another prayer meeting. PRAY! BOOM!! I produce scripture photos for Instagram. PRAY! BOOM!! I produce a prayer card or photo video for a field worker. PRAY! BOOM!! I write and design a Ramadan prayer guide and an Advent prayer guide and distribute them. PRAY! BOOM!! With every prayer request I plead with God. Send me one more to pray for the cities. Send me just one more to pray for the children. Please LORD, send me another intercessor for Sumatra today!

If you’re still reading, you’re likely one of my prayer warriors who’ve been charging the gates with me for the past six years. I know you’ve taken hits from the enemy for your efforts to bring down the gates and set the captives here free. I salute you, soldier.

The enemy gate still looks strong, but let’s keep on hitting it. With God’s help, who knows, it might fall with our next stroke. The fires of spiritual awakening might be ready to sweep from Aceh to Lampung. Millions of souls might be on the verge of being swept into the Kingdom. Don’t lose heart!

“So, what you’re saying is you pray and make prayer tools.”

After pulling an enemy arrow out of my shoulder, I grimace and then staunch the wound. I smile sweetly and say, “Yeah, something like that.” Then I turn to my troops and shout, “Okay, let’s hit it again on three, and give it all you’ve got this time!”

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).

Pray for the gates to come down and the enemy strongholds to be demolished in Sumatra.

Pray for just one more intercessor every day to pray for the peoples, for the churches, for the persecuted, for the cities, for the children, and for the workers in Sumatra.

Pray for Sumatra’s prayer mobilizer to be strengthened in the LORD and filled with the Spirit.

Pray that intercessors will not lose heart until, with God’s help, we see the enemy’s gates fall.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Aneuk Jamee People Group Profile

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God’” (Ruth 1:16, ESV).

The 65,000 Aneuk Jamee are a small and secluded people group on the west coast of Aceh Province in northern Sumatra. Their local dialect is Minangkabau, because they are descendants of people who migrated from Padang. Aneuk Jamee means “children of guests” in Acehnese.

The Aneuk Jamee earn a livelihood primarily from fishing, farming, and trading. Most of the fishing boats in the area are owned by Acehnese or business interests from Medan. There is a great need of economic development among this people group.

The Aneuk Jamee are predominately Muslim with a mixture of pre-Islamic animistic beliefs. It’s common to consult the spiritual leaders called dukuns for enchantments, curses, or healings. There are few known believers and no indigenous churches among the Aneuk Jamee.

Pray that:

Workers will hear and surrender to the call to reach the Aneuk Jamee with the Gospel.

Satan’s strongholds will be identified and brought down by specific, persistent intercession.

People of peace among the Aneuk Jamee will be identified by Spirit-led workers.

Gatekeepers to Aneuk Jamee areas will show favor to workers as they enter this unengaged area.

Aneuk Jamee believers will be gathered into house fellowships and taught to become passionate, vibrant followers of Jesus.

The first indigenous Aneuk Jamee church will be birthed soon.

The Aneuk Jamee, like Ruth, will have the loyalty and desire to follow the One True God no matter what.