Tommy: I still remember when I was in Jakarta last and you actually did a whole sermon series for multiple weeks on depression, mental illness, homosexuality. What are some of those taboo topics that you spoke about that are taboo to life in Jakarta?
Andrew: Yeah we called the sermon, “You Can’t Talk About That. In the US it’s the same as those are a little bit of taboo issues to talk about, but especially in Indonesian culture those things are not going to be addressed over the pulpit nor are they really talked about even among family members and things like that. So you have a bunch of people, a generation, that’s really kind of at a loss on how to deal with those things. And so most of their influence in learning about topics like same sex attraction and depression and politics are really just from each other or from media or something like that. So I think we have the privilege, as an international church, I’m not necessarily bound to some of those cultural constraints and to talk about those kinds of issues that may be a little bit more taboo or people might be a little bit uncomfortable hearing from a pastor. They’ll be a lot more open to hearing it from me, and so we found that sermon series and that teaching really fruitful and helpful for people and even following up with it in their life groups. So we do bible studies according to what we teach on Sundays, and so we dealt with it on a life-on-life level in small groups and hopefully it was really helpful for people to talk about it because those issues exist, things like mental health issues and same-sex attraction—those are things that are pretty relevant in Indonesian culture and society and yet are not really talked about or addressed.
Tommy: Andrew, Indonesia has the fourth biggest population in all of the world and is one of the wealthiest countries in all of the world with fifteen thousand islands. There is a difference between ethnic Indonesians and Chinese Indonesians. For the average American, what is the difference?
Andrew: The difference is, I think Chinese Indonesians will look at themselves even though they may be third, fourth generation, they still look at themselves as ethnically Chinese and distinctly Chinese, and so I think it would be actually the same thing as second or third generation Korean American or Chinese American who still has a distinct Asian culture and background, and yet also has an American background. So in Indonesia, there will be Chinese Indonesians who are distinct Chinese ethnic background and it may not be 100 percent, but that’s their dominant background, and yet they grew up in Indonesisa. That’s where their parents were born or they were born, so it’s kind of similar to that.
Tommy: Got it. I have found that the people who are Chinese Indonesians have a huge respect for Americans. Would you find that to be true? Why is there such a huge respect towards those in the West, especially Americans?
Andrew: I think there’s various reasons. I think probably one is probably a little bit of a colonial influence. Indonesia has been colonized and fought over for many, many centuries. And so I think it’s naturally ingrained in them to perhaps look at, for example, Americans or Europeans in a much higher regard. I think also because at least another factor is the young people that are educated and ambitious. I think they really look up to things like the work ethic or social ethics of Americans or Westerners and those are things that they grew up partially with, whether they studied overseas or something like that, for university or high school that they want to emulate. So I mean those are probably two of the factors that I can think of as the reasons why.
Tommy: As a pastor, you’re also learning the importance that some of these individuals may not have a good biblical foundation in terms of digging in the Scripture, and sometimes you’ve actually been trying to do that more as a church, as a pastor?
Andrew: Yeah, that’s right, so we’re really trying. I think it’s two things. It’s giving them a biblical foundation. They need that understanding of what is the theology of money, or what is the theology of work, what is the theology of marriage and family, so that’s a really big foundation for them. And then the second part to that it is discipling people through that, through what does that look like in their lives on a daily basis? What does that look like for them personally, and how do they need to live in obedience to the scripture in their own context? And I think a lot of time that’s actually the harder part. A lot of guys in our church, they have access to all the books and all the stuff on the internet by Tim Keller and all these great pastors and theologians but walking through those types of issues are challenging. And I think that’s really the role of the local church in Indonesia—to be discipling young people to do.
Tommy: Andrew I have two last questions for you. The topic is nonprofits. We’re very familiar with that here in the US but in Jakarta people may not have a very high confidence or opinion of nonprofits in Indonesia. Can you talk through a little bit of that and explain this.
Andrew. I think a factor that you can’t ignore about working with nonprofits in Indonesia is the factor of corruption. I mean it’s so pervasive in the society in Indonesia, so a lot of nonprofits are going to work in that kind of environment and in that kind of system. So a lot of them are going to be affected by it or kind of get swept under by it.
I think another big issue with nonprofits is leadership. There is a big leadership void, so really having people who are let alone “godly,” but just someone who has integrity and someone who is able to follow through and able to execute on a plan they have, I think that’s a lot harder than often times it’s realized in a situation like Indonesia. So even though people may have great ideas, the execution of those ideas and goals as a nonprofit are just really hard to realize. And so, yeah, it’s really, really hard to find those kinds of people who are really good leaders in the nonprofit sector.
Tommy: Andrew, even as you’ve been with Resource Global and been helping us out on the Indonesian board what is your hope that these cohort members would do to help their city or their country in the future?
I’m really hoping that people that are involved in this cohort first really love Jesus Christ and that love and devotion to Christ comes out in the way that they do everything in their lives, in the way that they’re involved in their local church and discipling people, the way that they’re involved in their families and we see restoration, Christ-like restoration in their own marriages and with their parents and just with their own parenting. I want to see them as people who really are salt in the marketplace, and they’re really light in the marketplace and use that platform to bring Christ into the systems that are in place as well as relationships with people that they work with and the influence that they have. So that’s what I’m really praying for, for the influence in this generation in the next 20, 30 years, that God would really raise some of them up in different spheres in society, whether its business or whether it’s education or government or even in churches. You know, that they would be these people who really love Christ and are really making Him known and exemplifying that in their lives and the generations to come. That is my hope and vision for Jakarta.
Tommy: Hey Andrew, thank you, I appreciate it!