This is the day the Lord has made.
It is amazing how the Lord works when you have a purpose, I have come to realize that the saying the Lord works in mysterious ways is true. As part of the EMS volunteer programme we as volunteers are given various topics to report about each month , this month was religion and everyday life. Each day is a blessing and as the sun rises in the east (another saying that is true as we wake up really early here in Indonesia, some of my host families were surprised if I woke up 5 minutes later than the usual time of 6am….but hey the early bird catches the worm right hmmm seems like my experience in Indonesia has brought all these sayings to life.).
My programme for the past three months consisted of visiting various churches within the Church of Gepsultra, this gave me a wide impression of the importance of religion and everyday life in Kendari especially since Christianity is a minority religion which makes up about 10% of the population. There are 5 recognized religions in Indonesia (Muslim, Christianity, Catholic, Buddahsim, Hinduasim and Konghuchu).
Religion plays an important role in peoples lives in Kendari, from schooling to home life it all revolves around the love of God and praising him through song, dance and prayer. Singing is one of the main pastimes and with choir practice almost everyday of the week, each division within the church has a choir and the people enjoy using the talent God gave them to praise the Lord to the fullest.
Family prayer meetings are held almost every day, these prayer meetings are like a feast, after each service a huge dinner is prepared. The prayer meetings are all well attended.
I am based at a christian school during the day, every Monday morning a worship service is prepared and led by the students. I was amazed at how well prepared each service was and how willing the students are to sing, pray and worship. The school also has Muslim students and teachers who have a separate service.
The Indonesian motto Berbeda Tetapi tetap satu (Unity in diversity) can be seen in the way the various religious groups live in harmony with each other, Churches and Mosques flourish as people flock to the services some of these institutions are situated on opposite streets from each other. There is a Church and Mosque in Kendari which is separated by one wall as a symbol of this unity.
I have also noticed this unity at the school as two boys, one Muslim and one Christian were proud to announce to me that they are best friends.
At the last church I visited I met a man Mr. Miswan Sonaru whose father was one of the first original Kolaki Tribes to convert from Islam to Christianity and became a missionary. Mr Sonaru’s wife was also Muslim before they got married and she converted to Christianity. We had an interesting conversation, he is a faithful man and loves God. His children are all named after someone in the bible.
While attending Sunday service and various family prayer meetings, because of the language barrier it challenged me to read my bible with more understanding as I would have to translate from the Sermon also challenging my listening skills…as I mentioned before the Lord works in mysterious ways and He indeed gives us each day as a blessing to be praised.