If you are looking for a role in a pioneering team in the most populous Muslim nation on earth, read on. The existing Servants Jakarta team has been living and ministering in Indonesia’s massive capital city since 2009. Having already had team members in Jakarta for the past two years combines many of the benefits of joining an established team with those a pioneering team. For example, current team members have already established options for attaining visas, acquired a restful team center, discovered good language schools, have already trained neighbors as personal language tutors, and best of all have become well-known and loved by the community! Yet this team is still prayerfully discerning how God is inviting them to specifically carry out Servants’ vision of seeing their impoverished neighbors and community transformed by the power of Christ. The stability of established teams is combined with the creative dreaming of pioneering teams.
Jakarta—Indonesia’s “Ibu Kota” or Mother City:
Jakarta is Indonesia’s capital city and also the largest city in the country with 10 million in Jakarta proper, and 24 million in the greater metropolitan area. Like many capital cities, Jakarta hoards more than its fair share of wealth. An estimated 80% of Indonesia’s wealth is in Jakarta, yet it only accounts for 10% of the nation’s population. Even so, Jakarta has the country’s greatest extremes between affluence and poverty. Eight-story shopping malls are surrounded by some of the country’s poorest urban slums. Over a hundred high-rise apartment buildings have popped up throughout the city, yet the U.N. calculates that at least 25% of the city’s residents live in slums. Furthermore, some studies have concluded that Jakarta has the worst infrastructure of any South East Asian city.
A Brief History of Indonesia:
For over 300 years, Indonesia was under Dutch occupation and was known as the East Indies Trading Company. During this time the Dutch and many other Western nations mixed together their efforts to advance their religion and economy. The outcome of this in Indonesia was that Christianity became virtually synonymous with Western domination and greed, while Islam flourished as an anti-colonial symbol.
In 1945 Indonesia became an independent country. Today, roughly 88% of the population are Muslim. Since the country has a massive population of 240 million people, this means there are more Muslims in Indonesia than in all Middle Eastern countries combined. Yet, Islamic beliefs and devoutness vary greatly throughout the country. For most parts of Indonesia, including Jakarta, Islam originally came from Muslim missionaries sent from India, not the Middle East. Therefore, for many Indonesians, their Islamic beliefs are mixed with mysticism and numerous superstitions. Furthermore, the Indonesian government requires every citizen to choose between one of five recognized religions. Thus, many of the 88% of Muslims in the country are believed to be non-practicing. That said, when you spend time in Indonesia, you quickly realize they are a deeply religious and gracious people.
In Servants, we hear God calling for laborers to choose His downward model of becoming a servant amongst the poor, living with them, and seeking the transformative power of Jesus Christ in their lives and community. Especially because Christianity in Indonesia tends to be associated with the exploitative West, we believe there is an urgent need for Christian outsiders to draw alongside the local church and model the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom. Instead of exploiting the poor, we want to empower the poor. Instead of seeking to become affluent off of Indonesia’s resources, we sense God inviting us to set aside our affluence in order to join God’s beloved poor in Indonesia.
Servants’ History in Indonesia—First Banda Aceh, Now Jakarta:
Considered one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history, the Asian Tsunami of December 26th, 2004 will remain an event imbedded in most of our minds. Banda Aceh, located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, was the closest major city to the earthquake’s epicenter. Almost 200,000 residents of that city lost their life to the tsunami.
Soon after this tragic event, Servants started working in Banda Aceh, bringing rehabilitation and training to survivors. Aceh was a relatively unique context for Servants because our ministry there was inevitably more relief-orientated and located in a more rural context than usual. So early on, we sensed that God would eventually call us to a more urban setting once we had finished the temporary stage of disaster relief work.
Thankfully, our desire to work closely with local Christians led to a partnership with the social action arm of a major Indonesian church denomination. By God’s grace, together, we became known in Banda Aceh as people who consult widely, using an incarnational approach to serve amongst and alongside the community. God was gracious during our time there…so much so that Servants was able to transition out of Banda Aceh and into Jakarta in 2009.
The Servants Jakarta Team lives in one of a cluster of slum communities. From the start, God very evidently was preparing the way for the team to live in this beautiful yet impoverished neighborhood. On the team’s first visit, an elderly Christian man spoke of how he was the only Christian in the otherwise entirely Muslim community and how he had been praying for years for God to send more Christians to this neighborhood. Sadly, before the team moved into this slum, this modern-day-Simeon had passed away. Additionally, the Servants Jakarta team were blessed to receive enthusiastic permission to move into the slum from the community and regional leaders who had previously denied any Christian charities from working in their communities because they had seen too many well-meaning groups cause more harm than good. These leaders greatly appreciated Servants’ desire to spend the first year simply learning from neighbors instead of immediately starting projects.
In closing, the words we penned years ago when we first sensed God asking us to form a new Servants team for Jakarta still ring true: “Our calling is to move into the slums amongst those that we are ministering to, modeling the upside-down Kingdom, and equipping the Indonesian church to serve God by serving the poor. Please join us in praying for God to send more laborers into this very large harvest.”
Is God Calling You to Indonesia’s Urban Poor?
We are currently receiving applications for new Jakarta team members for an initial commitment of 3 years to this pioneering work. To find out how you can be part of the pioneering Servants Jakarta team and to receive the complete information pack, contact us.