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 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 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 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 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.

Highlights

Foundations

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 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 network.

Process

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.

  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, 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.
  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. 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.
  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 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.

Principles

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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