Indonesia Consultation on Unreached Peoples
Report on First National Missions Consultation focused on
Indonesian Unreached Peoples Groups
by Setiabudhi (Faithful Friend)
for the organizing committee
Indonesia, January 22, 1997
"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!!!"
This powerful prayer of repentance rang out from one person, but it was the
heart cry of many of the 300+ Indonesian Christian leaders who attended the
first National Missions Consultation focused on Indonesian Unreached Peoples
Groups. Many expressed the feeling that this was God's kairos moment to awaken
the Indonesian church to the desperate plight of Unreached People Groups(UPGs)
in their nation.
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
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 9 non-believers out of every 10 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
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 Gods
work in Indonesia, but according to Luis Bush, leader of AD2000 & Beyond, 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 close to
- 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 2 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
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 the Seoul GCOWE.
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
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. Initially, the main focus 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.
- 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.
- The List. After GCOWE, there was an effort to compare existing UPG lists.
Amazingly, there was up to a 50% disparity between the lists from 6
organizations. In May 96, a meeting of leaders from 8 organizations was convened
in order to agree on a consensus UPG list.
- 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.
- 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!!
- 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.
- 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.
- The Network. In 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.
- 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.
- The Future. Obviously, this is only a beginning. Key events planned for the
next year included the following. First, expanding the leadership of the Joshua
Project 23 Network beyond the current 20 organizations. Second, finding or
recruiting gatekeepers for the 23 UPG networks. Third, convening a working
meeting for the gatekeepers to discuss strategic cooperation. Fourth,
involvement in the AD2000 Gatekeeper initiative, with attendance at the March
Singapore Joshua Project Meeting and the April Pasadena Gateway People Meeting.
Fifth, a continual expansion of a cooperative system for the adoption of UPGs by
Indonesian. Sixth, training programs will be created to prepare Indonesian
Christians for effective and innovative cross-cultural mission work. Seventh, 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 view it as 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
- 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
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