- National Initiatives
"Lord, forgive us, it is our sin that has kept our Indonesian brothers and sisters unreached. Lord, forgive us for focusing only on ourselves and not on our neighbor unreached peoples. Lord, forgive them, they have never heard - it is not their fault, it is ours! Forgive us, forgive us, forgive us!!!"
Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country and the most populous Islamic country with an Islamic population of over180 million people. Indonesia has more Muslims than the Arab countries combined and more UPGs than any country except India. Current research shows 602 total Indonesian People Groups, with 207 having a population greater than 10,000. Currently, 132 of these larger People Groups are considered unreached, with a combined population of 121 million.
While quite a few Indonesian believers and organizations have had a missions vision for many years, the Indonesian church as a whole has been too occupied with survival and growth to consider a more extensive missions strategy. There are nine non-believers out of every ten people around a typical Indonesian Christian, so understandably most have not considered the need to go beyond this immediate mission field to focus specifically on totally unreached People Groups.
However, many leaders from the entire Christian spectrum attended this Indonesian UPG Consultation and affirmed the need to not only continue to reach their "Jerusalem and Judea," but also to go to their "Samaria" - the Indonesian Unreached People Groups with no viable indigenous church.
Obviously, awareness of the need is a crucial beginning, but it is only that, a beginning. One leader likened it to when a baby takes its first steps - it is a long way from running, but at that stage in life it is a challenging advance and very exciting to all involved!
Not only is this an exciting event for all world Christians interested in God's work in Indonesia, but according to Luis Bush, leader of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement, the process also has some possible lessons for workers and networks in other 10/40 Window regions. The following description will focus on four areas: highlights, foundations, process, and principles.
350 key church leaders from all spectrums of Indonesian Christianity were invited. The projected attendance was 150, but total attendance was over 300!
This meeting was very sensitive in a predominantly Muslim country, but strong endorsement was given by leaders of the three main Christian groups: Mainline, Evangelical, and Pentecostal/Charismatic.
There was a good balance of attendees from churches (35%), seminaries (20%), mission agencies (30%), and current UPG workers (15%).
Originally projected costs matched projected income, but with double the expected attendance, there was a shortfall of $10,000. This was announced in a meeting and within two hours the necessary funds were donated by several individuals and groups.
A preliminary plan was the formation of a national "UPG communication network" and the formation of 132 UPG networks. Shortly before the meeting, the realization struck that it would take a long time to form 133 networks. Using key linguistic and cultural research, the UPGs were divided into 23 clusters of related languages. The people attending the meeting strongly endorsed forming one national network and 23 cluster networks.
Obviously this meeting did not occur in a vacuum. There were several foundational influences that created the environment for a powerful consultation. First, it is important to understand that some Indonesian Christians and their international mission partners have for many years been sacrificially serving in pioneering mission work both within and without Indonesia.
Second, God's hand has been evident in a recent growing missions interest among many Indonesian denominations and Christian groups. Many of these bodies have recently begun to focus new prayers and energies towards evangelism and missions. The growing interest of the worldwide church towards UPG work has also had an influence. Perhaps the best example of this was the broadened vision some Indonesian leaders gained through GCOWE '95 held in Seoul, South Korea in May 1995.
Third, God has also been at work to create a growing cooperation among Christians from divergent groups. An Indonesian national motto is "Unity in Diversity," and more and more Indonesian Christians are adopting that as their attitude towards cooperation with other Christians.
Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is the National Prayer Network, where denominational leaders and prayer servants from many diverse groups periodically gather to pray together and also commit themselves to disseminate requests through a common network.
Interestingly, this first Indonesian UPG Consultation was sponsored by the Indonesian Research Network, which is a consortium of 20 denominations, mission agencies, and foundations. For the last six years this group has been meeting to share research results and plan common projects.
The main focus intially was on assessing the health and resources of Indonesian Churches and Ministries, sometimes called "Harvest Force" research. While this research continues, in the last three years there has been a growing emphasis on "Harvest Field" research, particularly UPGs. Several key events or decisions led to the convening of this UPG Consultation and the resulting formation of the National UPG network.
1. The Research. Several individuals began doing in-depth
studies of individual UPGs, and as they shared this research with others
in the Network, God created a growing awareness of UPGs and their needs.
2. The List. After GCOWE '95, there was an effort to compare existing UPG lists. Amazingly, there was up to a 50 percent disparity between the lists from six organizations. In May '96, a meeting of leaders from eight organizations convened in order to agree on a consensus UPG list.
3. The Prerogative. Soon after this, the international AD2000 Assessment Task Force agreed that the prerogative for defining and updating the Indonesian UPG list would be vested with the Indonesian Research Network.
4. The Goal. During this cooperative effort to define a consensus UPG list, it was agreed that the first goal should be researching and writing a prayer profile for every UPG. The day after the consensus list was defined, a meeting was held for "trainers" who then went back to prepare and send out people from their own organizations. The magnitude of
God's work in the last 6 months cannot be overstated! Due to the isolation and closed nature of many of the UPGs, total coverage in a timely manner seemed like an impossible task. However, through a combination of on-site surveys and document research, there are currently 52 completed profiles, 15 more are in process, and there is already enough data to write a further 31! That is 98 in all - attributable only to the Lord!!
5. The Purpose. A meeting to discuss forming a Indonesian Missions Network had been planned over a year ago. As the meeting drew closer, the Indonesian Research Network leaders realized that several Christian coalitions were beginning to form Mission Networks. Given the emergence of these new networks and a desire to avoid competition, the leaders identified a key missing element as a National Missions Network focused on Unreached People Groups.
6. The Consultation. Rather than hosting yet another seminar and presenting a "finished plan," the meeting was re-designed to be a true consultation with input being sought in a variety of forums. Some key input to the entire group was given by Indonesian and international leaders. Much of the time was spent in small workgroups, with some time
spent in "Harvest Force" workgroups, as churches, seminaries, mission agencies, and UPG workers discussed how they could best contribute to God's overall work. Other time was spent in "Harvest Field" discussions centered around 11 Indonesian UPGs and UPG work in other countries.
7. The Network. By a consensus decision at the end of the consultation, a new Indonesian UPG Network was formed. An English translation of the name is "Joshua Project 23," referring to the key nature of the 23 UPG clusters and the corresponding networks to be formed.
8. The Methods. There was a strong consensus that traditional methods would not be sufficient. Strong cross-cultural training centers must be created, so that the Indonesian missionary can shed his/her ethnic and religious presuppositions and incarnate the gospel within the culture of the Unreached People Group. The fact that the UPG is in the same
country does not negate the fact that there are vast cultural and religious chasms that must be bridged. How much more this is true of international missionaries. The possibilities are endless, with exciting models for creative lifestyle ministry and church planting.
9. The Future. Obviously, this is only a beginning. Key events planned for the next year include:
a) expanding the leadership of the Joshua Project 23 Network beyond the current 20 organizations;
b) finding or recruiting gatekeepers for the 23 UPG networks;
c) convening a working meeting for the gatekeepers to discuss strategic cooperation;
d) involvement in the AD2000 Gatekeeper initiative, with attendance at the March Singapore Joshua Project Meeting
and the April Pasadena Gateway People Meeting;
e) a continual expansion of a cooperative system for the adoption of UPGs by Indonesian;
f) training programs will be created to prepare Indonesian Christians for effective and innovative cross-cultural mission
g) a Second Indonesian UPG Consultation will be convened next September to assess progress and make further
plans. A special focus of the this meeting will be the UPG adoption process.
Prayer is first. The importance of prayer cannot be overstated. In addition to the prayers of many people and groups, another key to the initial success of the Indonesian Joshua Project 23 Network is the modeling and trust developed through the National Prayer Network.
Also, many think it significant that the first unified goal of the emerging UPG Network is researching and writing Prayer Profiles for all 132 UPGs. The entire body of Christ is needed. A key strength of this network is the emphasis on encouraging involvement across the Christian spectrum. "Unity in Diversity" is a recognition that Christians can and must overcome differences in order to cooperate together under God in fulfilling the Great Commission.
True Partnership among Nationals and Internationals. The international missionaries and partners continually defer to the rightful leadership of the Indonesian Christians, while at the same time, Indonesian Christian leaders humbly encourage true partnerships. One leader commented during a strategy meeting that "here there are no Indonesians and foreigners, only brothers and sisters."
Responsibility and Ownership. While recognizing the importance of partnerships, many Indonesian leaders affirmed that the Indonesian church must accept and fulfill the primary role and responsibility in reaching Indonesian UPGs. Additionally, all involved in Indonesia appreciate and encourage fellow Great Commission Christians efforts throughout the world and there is an excitement about the future growth of Indonesian missionary service among UPGs in other countries.
Appropriate Prerogative. As far as possible, all involved affirm the prerogative of those most directly involved in UPG ministry. Thus, the key workers and decision-makers are believers from the UPG, who are served by Great Commission teams composed of Indonesian and international workers. The cluster, national, and international networks must continually focus on how to best serve the local believers and UPG teams.
Communication not Control. The Indonesian Joshua Project 23 is a consortium of dozens of denominations, churches, seminaries, and agencies, both Indonesian and international. The goal is cooperation, not control. A key element of this is the commitment to honor the validity of different approaches without seeking to establish one "correct" approach.
A Focus on Adopting UPGs. The National Network and the 23 Cluster Networks are only aids to the true heart of the work: Great Commission Teams focused on specific people groups. The National and Cluster Networks will facilitate communication as well as supplement and complement the ministries of UPG teams. These teams are made up of international and Indonesian Christians, groups, churches and agencies.
Redeeming Technology. Recent technological developments have been used in a variety of ways: use of computers and the internet to aid specific people group research; raising awareness through the use of computers and video for mobilization presentations; and facilitating secure e-mail about sensitive matters. Within the next year, it seems that technology will develop to the point that secure communication networks can be greatly expanded to allow more extensive information to be shared with a minimal risk of suspicion and interception by hostile parties.
International Advocacy. There is a growing recognition in Indonesia of the tremendous need for advocates around the world, who will strengthen awareness, recruit and help train new partners, and be conduits of communication between the Harvest Force and the Harvest Field. Although advocates for all 132 Indonesian UPGs are needed in every region, the greatest current need is for advocates from South America, Africa, and Asia.
How can you be involved?
Is God calling you to partner in prayer and evangelism that leads to a church for every people and the gospel for every person in Indonesia by the year 2000?
Whether you are already serving an Indonesian UPG or newly considering involvement, it is important that all individuals, groups, churches, and agencies are part of a communications network.
"Indonesia Joshua Project 23" has established a secure communications channel in the USA.
Please make contact
via email at: Indonesia@upg.org
via telephone at either (817) 277-5398 or (800) 692-3555
via fax at (817) 277-5209 or (800) 782-2451
via postal mail at: Indonesia Joshua Project, World A, PO Box 155307, Fort Worth, TX 76155