It was the last session of the course when a brother shared about, #hashtag, church -- I can understand where he came from (he's a PK - pastor's kid) as God worked in his life through the church from which he receives all God's goodness. But, not the first time I told myself, I do not have that privilege. And I remembered then sharing to a friend (another PK) in our family, how I always felt jealous with PKs and MKs (missionaries' kids) and all my other friends blessed with God-fearing parents.
In a diverse Indonesia my parents were of mixed ethnic groups -- my mom embraced Christianity due to marriage when she was 23; my late dad was always a traditional church-goer, with a wealthy father, yet having 3 different mothers as one died after the other, he never had the exemplary models of God-fearing parents. My late dad then turned backslider for many years until he died in 2006.
Practically I was born in a Christian home, going to Sunday School since I was young, growing up loving my colorful Bible-stories book so much and attended Christian private schools my entire life.
I was 17 when I started teaching in Sunday School. But God knew I was far from having a personal encounter with Him as He brought about the turning point of my faith only a couple of years after that.
Parachurch: two of themI got my B.A. (German Literature) in a (state) university which is Indonesia's oldest. But I guess being in the world's largest muslims population we never had that privilege of having various Christian organizations in 1 university. We have one, that of the InterVarsity.
The teaching was strict: as a worship leader, we learned hymnology; as part of the core committee and small-group leaders, we read theological doctrinal books.
It was imprinted on me that we were trained in student ministry to be agents of change in our own church. So, I was always clear, we are not a church, but we are here for the church.
I thought the Friday meetings, listening to good sermons from dedicated alumni/speakers and small-group were His ways to reveal Himself to me. But He was giving me more -- a Korean missionary just moved to Indonesia in 1999 with his young family and started a student fellowship in one of the student-housing areas nearby our campus.
It was the Korean missionary and his ministry -- who taught me about the missional God, who taught me to pray around the campus for salvation of students, who taught me to be in a prayer team throughout gospel rallies were being held.
I still went to our church in Jakarta with my parents. I was still a Sunday School teacher too. But all what these 2 parachurch movements did in my life made me even realize how I sat feeling empty in every Sunday service -- how my perspective about church was changed: the liberalism of theology schools that supply pastors to our churches, the lack of pastors' effort for a reformed back-to-Bible approach speaking from the pulpit.
Parachurch: yet another oneWe do 4-year (8 semesters) undergraduate study in our country. It was only the beginning of the 3rd semester when a CT-scan showed I have a 6-cm diameter of a left suprarenal cyst. Little that I knew, it was just the start of a journey dealing with the medical world that practically took almost my entire 20s.
After some trips back and forth Jakarta-Singapore, I moved to Singapore in August 2004, when doctors said it would be best for me to stay close to them. Little that I knew, God was about to reveal another amazing thing to me: His mission.
Dubbed as Asia's beacon of this century's churches, He made Singapore as a training ground for me. I unfortunately can't write much here about our missions work, to protect the safety of certain stakeholders. But again, through courses such as Kairos, Tentmaking, Cats & Dogs Theology, and some CPM (church planting) materials, not to mention those mission conferences and seminars, listening to good speakers in their field, His work was evident in my life as He showed me more about His missional heart, until I left Singapore in September 2013.
#church: meet me halfwayI have been feeling like a mere spectator in every church I was and am part of, even though every single time I gave myself up to serve, or to a church-membership (including with my church in the UK, where I was for only a little over a year), realizing that as a gesture of commitment to the church leaders, for myself to be rebuked if needed as well as to be taken care of spiritually.
Glancing back and pondering of what God has been doing doesn't help me much in pointing finger on why I feel quite distant, still, with any local church. But it certainly makes me more appreciative to the parachurch movements that He used to win me over from darkness to His light; participating in His holistic mission with a global perspective of building His global kingdom.
This morning as God spoke yet again to me through a sister sharing a changed life of hers through a local church, I am taking this divine challenge to a journey of healing, to receive gladly and waiting in anticipation of His continued personal revelations on #church.
I may find myself halfway in the journey, but just as He knew I was dry bones and He brought me to life, I rest knowing He will complete His work in me in His time.