Faith and Work

100% Jesus, 0% Me - Interview with Abraham Viktor

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During Tommy Lee’s last visit to Jakarta, in January 2019, he was able to meet with several Resource Global (RG) cohort alumni, including Bram. The two caught up after connect group, and shared the latest updates across Bram’s life (both professionally and personally) since his time with RG.  

Bram grew up in Jakarta, and received his accounting degree from University of Indonesia (UI). He always had an enterprising spirit so before his final year in school, he attempted to launch his first startup with a few friends: a Kaya jam company. They had a great formula, but struggled to find the right factory for production. Eventually, he had to make the difficult decision to move on. The experience would be the first of a couple of “professional failures,” through which Bram learned much about the world, faith, himself, and God.

After graduating, Bram found himself on his second startup - this time in the construction industry working on lightweight building blocks. However, after much time, and significant monetary investment, a series of unfortunate events lead to the closure of that startup too. This second failure was much harder on Bram. He found himself low on cash, and felt like the weak link in a group of friends who had gone into banking or consulting, were rising the ranks, and making good money.

Looking back, he recalls how this devastation was partially influenced by his own family’s financial crisis when he was younger. That experience had taught him to be driven by monetary gain in his own decisions. Desirous of more stability, he took a step back and decided to pursue work in investment banking and consulting. He went first for an internship with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), before eventually moving into investment banking. He remembers fondly that first paycheck, and the feeling of security it came with. However, he also remembers the disappointment he felt shortly into his tenure as he began to feel restless, thinking: What am I doing here?

Throughout his early career struggles, Bram recalls feeling God convicting him to rely not on his own desires and ego, rather on God’s plan and design. He also recalls how he always pushed those convictions aside, deceived by his own pride. However, the more restless he felt at work, the more he reflected on his failed startups, and the more he found himself turning to God.

In an act of faith, Bram asked God to purify his heart. In reconciling his desires to those of God’s for him, he found renewed clarity. Suddenly, he felt God impressing upon him that he should be working in financial inclusion. He took a leap of faith, and left his cushy investment banking job. That very day, he stepped into creating his next venture: Taralite.

Through much faith and hard work, Taralite is now a key mover for financial inclusion in Indonesia, providing micro loans and and micro funding to underserved people. They also lease their algorithm to banks for more efficient processing and greater financial inclusion across the country. Most recently, Taralite has been acquired by OVO - a large mobile payments player in Indonesia. Bram sees the move as synergic, allowing the team to work with mentors with more experience, as well as expanding Taralite’s own market share and impact on Indonesia as a whole.

Around the time Bram was working on Taralite, building it up into what it is today, he had experienced several other milestones as well. These milestones informed many of his decisions, and continue to shape his career and faith journey today.

First, he got married - to a woman he says is greater than his equal. “She humbles me,” he says - describing how his pride and self-righteousness often causes him to lack grace, whereas her own deep desire and honor for truth make her the opposite: humble, kind, gentle.

Second, he participated in Resource Global’s first cohort - an opportunity he credits for giving him clear and encouraging mentorship. The Christian guidance and focus on bringing the gospel into the business sphere helped him in many a decision, especially in the Taralite’s early days.

Third, he had a clear epiphany about finances. Whereas his upbringing and “the Old Bram” led him to focus on simply gaining wealth, the Bram of today who remains stayed on the Lord realized that money is a blessing from God. This blessing, he believes, is one that must be shared, and enjoyed. Ultimately, he says “my life and even my finances don’t belong to me. [They] all belong to God alone.”

And last of all, via redemption through, and trust in, Christ, Bram has received 2 priceless gifts from his turbulent professional experiences to date: humility, and trust in God’s sovereignty. Humility because, whilst he continues to struggle with pride, he remembers that he has never succeeded when he has insisted on doing things by his own strength. And trust in God’s sovereignty, because when he looks back at the last few years (his career trajectory, his marriage, his time with Resource Global, and his failures), he sees how God’s providence was upon him through it all.

“When I failed the second time, it felt like the lowest point in my life, it felt like I’d never get close to where my friends were. But somehow God just cared for me, equipped me, strengthened me. And it’s all God’s work. When I look back, it was 0% Bram, and 100% Jesus.”

Lemonilo: Adventures Beyond Expectations

On the afternoon of January 22, 2019, Tommy Lee paid a visit to past cohort member - Johannes Ardiant, at the Lemonilo headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia. Surrounded by the cheerful green and yellow murals, and beautiful paintings by local artists, the two sat down to catch up on faith, friendship, business, and responding to God’s call.

Lemonilo - the brainchild of Johannes and Shinta Nurfauzia, is a healthy home staples brand. Their hero product is healthy additive-free instant noodles in a country where instant noodles are King. This is, after all, the place that brought the world Indomie, and boasts street food dishes like InTerNet - a mixture of instant noodles, telor (egg), and cornet (corned beef). However, analogous to Johannes’ own eclectic background and professional journey, Lemonilo wasn’t always about food. In fact, its journey (from healthcare to health food), which closely mirrors Johannes’ (from engineering to politics to business and more), is a reminder that God’s call often leads to adventures beyond our own expectations.

Johannes was born and raised in Jakarta, but studied in Singapore for university at the National University of Singapore (NUS). From an early age, he had a passion for politics, but somehow ended up in degree programs related to Computer Science. The decision had been made in response to pressures from family and the market that demanded for more engineers. After university, he took on a PhD program again related to Computer Science, but found it lonely, and knew deep down he was meant for something else. After his struggle through the program, he worked at International Business Machines (IBM) for a time, before finally admitting to his own political passions and aspirations. After IBM, he took on more finance and consulting roles across entities such as Tusk Advisory and the Indonesia Infrastructure Finance, until which point he found an opportunity to go back to school.

From 2013-2015, he took his passion for politics with him to Harvard University, and studied a Masters in Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Governance. However, upon returning to Indonesia, instead of doors opening in politics, he saw doors opening in other areas to help the public as a private citizen. With his friend, Shinta, he started Konsula then - a healthcare tech startup that sought to connect Indonesians with doctors. Public health was a cause that he felt the Lord impressing upon his heart, even as he wished for inroads into policy. It then occurred to him, perhaps serving the public from this private sphere, was actually an inroad. After over a year of building the company, he felt a strong call from the Lord to think of an area he could help that was more organic to the Indonesian people. Something that they needed everyday, but weren’t even thinking about. This is where the idea for a health food startup came.

The statistics were clear: in 2015 alone, Indonesians consumed 13.2 billion instant noodle packets. That is 55 packets per person, per year, as a general average (counting even infants). The logical conclusion was that Indonesian adults ate instant noodles multiple times a week, despite what most in the developed world might consider common knowledge of how unhealthy instant noodles are because of the preservatives used. In late 2015, reports were surfacing of people developing cancer linked to their frequent consumption of instant noodles. Considering Indonesians’ dependence on the staple food, Johannes saw an opportunity there to provide a healthy alternative. With that seed planted, Konsula slowly grew into Lemonilo.

Since then, Lemonilo has launched a second instant noodle flavor (now with both mee goreng [fried noodles], and curry noodle soup), and is well along the path to launching healthy cooking oils, and other pantry must-haves. Johannes has found himself in a leadership position yet again in an area that was not his initial expectation: health products, instead of politics. However, he’s clear that, while it may not have been what he expected, he is learning that “God is teaching [him] the hard way” that doors will open and close according to God’s will.

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As a leader in this new area in his life, Johannes says “the hardest thing is the draining work, the meetings,” but it is all worth it when rewarded with the blessing of mentoring others and sharing one’s values (something he feels he lacked as a young professional). He also credits Resource Global with a lot of the strength and confidence he has pursuing his work with a Christian perspective. For his cohort, their retreat exposed him to Silicon Valley’s challenges for people of faith - the money, idolatry, relativism, and more. He considers this an important component of his maturity today as a Christian business leader. On top of all this, to cope with the pressures of his work, Johannes says he leans on the personal mentorship he received from Resource Global with Ken Baugh (Saddleback Church), as well as time in the Word. “Being rooted in the Word, focusing on one passage per week, meditating on it…[also,] instead of just spending one prayer a day, taking short breaks throughout the day to converse with God,” these are the things he leans on most when times get rough. For him, now, he no longer mourns for his own dreams (such as a political career). Rather, he feels confident that God will open and close the right doors, at the right times, and his job is to faithfully heed the Lord’s direction.

Serving God Faithfully in all Things

An interview with Lukas Limanjaya, Founder of Kalm. He was in our Second Cohort in Jakarta.


On Tommy Lee’s last trip to Jakarta from January 20-23, 2019, he had the opportunity to catch up with and interview past cohort members. One of these was Lukas Limanjaya - a sprightly, young business leader with a passion for counselling, improving mental health and well-being, and reducing stigma around mental health disorders.

During the interview, Lukas cited his past as formative in both his grounded faith, and his calling to help broken people cope with and heal from that brokenness. As a young child, he lived in Surabaya - the second largest city in Indonesia, and was raised by his grandparents. At around the age of 8, his parents - who were living in Jakarta, running the family businesses, decided it was time to move their children in with them. Lukas soon found himself and his siblings transplanted to the bustling national capital, and were immediately put into a Christian private school (Sekolah Pelita Harapan - known as SPH).

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During those first several years in Jakarta, the adjustment for Lukas was significant, and home life was not ideal. His parents fought often, and Lukas felt acutely the brokenness of the world. To cope, Lukas turned to school. He says, “God’s providence stuck him at home” as he struggled to run off and get up to shenanigans with his friends outside. Instead, he found himself holing up in his room and running to his books, and his studies, to avoid the stresses of his family life. He credits his teachers and counselors at school for their constant support. Most of all, he cites that the key determinant to his success today is how God’s divine purpose brought people into his life to teach him that “Option A” (what he describes as the obvious choice, or other people’s expectations, or the way you’ve been brought up) is not the only option. There is always an Option B. And often Option B is the true option God has for you: His true plan for your life, the one you neither want or expect.

Going for Option B, however, requires what Lukas calls both an external factor (a spiritual mentor, for example), and self-reflection. After all, these types of choices sometimes require a leap of faith. Especially if it’s not what you initially envisioned. To Lukas, the crucial element here is humility. “Being humble isn’t about low self-esteem,” he insists. To him, humility is about knowing who you are, and who God is. “God shows me how big He is as I know him.” Knowing God, and knowing who you are in relation to God (how big He is, and how small you are, and how He protects and covers you) humbles you, and prepares you for his plans for you.

“Being self-reflective comes down to being humble. Being self-reflective means being reflective on who God is. When I acknowledge that everything is a gift from God, it’s ok to be proud of the things I am good at. At the same time, when I acknowledge God is there for me, means it’s ok for me to admit my weaknesses too.”

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After university abroad, and a short stint working in the tech industry, Lukas returned to the United States to study a Masters of Arts in Counselling and Biblical Counselling from Westminster Theological Seminary. When he finished, he returned to Jakarta at the end of 2017 armed with the right tools to begin his new business venture: PT Sanubari Senantiasa Sejahtera. It was into this business that he took his passion for helping the broken. His journey starting this, coincided with his time with Resource Global - a time he credits for “emboldening him to keep moving forward in the path God has set for him.” The encouragement he received from his fellow Resource Global cohort members, reminded him that as young professionals, they were all in a similar boat. Whether taking on family businesses, working on new and challenging roles in their current companies, or venturing out on their own, all of them were experiencing many difficult firsts. The sensation that he was not alone, and that others were pushing themselves and supporting one another in Christ, gave him energy to continue.

“When I look back at my life, and I see my challenges and hardships, I don’t see wow look how great I am I went through [all this] and look at where I am right now. When I look back I see those ways that God tells me how I never was alone. I never walked through it alone. The only reason I survived, is that God brought me people, and He was there through those people, and that’s what brought me to my life at this point.”

Since then, Lukas and his business partner, Angela, at PT Sanubari have launched their app: Kalm, a mobile application that allows Indonesians to connect with counselors, offers tips for dealing with mental health issues, as well as encouragements to get you through the day.

As he described his advocacy, Lukas highlighted the muddled view on mental health and wellness as a key point he’d like to change.

“In the business world, if a person has a heart attack from overwork we say ah he worked so hard, what a strong man. But if a person gets anxiety or burnout or depression from overwork we say, ah so weak. Maybe we shouldn’t trust him. And unfortunately, it’s a mindset not only in the business world, but in churches too. Pastors, elders, people serving. We say because they’re doing the Lord’s work they must be perfect. But they’re under immense pressure too.”

His passion for the cause is clear, and it is with these thoughts that he continues to lead the charge on destigmatizing mental health, and pushes forward to help Indonesians who struggle. Still, as with any new venture, days have not been without their uncertainties.

Lukas remembers talking to a fellow Resource Global cohort member who was giving him advice on what not to do when kicking off a startup. Some of the advice that came up included avoiding products that required one educate the market with something completely new. At that, Lukas was immediately dejected. He thought to himself: oh no all the things I was told not to do, I’m doing right now. When he expressed his fears, he was encouraged instead, reminded that: “if you know and feel God brought you and told you to do it, if you have to fail, just fail faithfully.”

“That really changed my mindset,” said Lucas.I don’t have to prove God called me to do this. Whatever I do, I just have to be faithful. Even in failure, fail faithfully that it honors the Lord. That lifted off so much burden from me. I don’t have to make my company successful. I just need to do things in a way that is faithful.

These simple, yet powerful, words reminded Lukas of the truth that as Christians, our success should not be defined by what the world considers success, but by our service to the Lord. Just as God is faithful to us, so should we remain faithful to Him in all things. This revelation freed Lukas to work without worry, and to know that regardless of how “successful” his company becomes, he needs only to go forth in faith and rest assured in God’s promise of love and grace.

For Lukas, in the end, it’s not about success today, tomorrow, or in this lifetime now. It’s not even about his success as an individual and the number of other people he helps with his projects. It’s about an eternal purpose that serves the Lord faithfully, and becomes part of a tapestry that weaves God’s plans together into one beautiful, big picture. “Even if you fail, fail faithfully. Everything we do is to honor God”.