So far I talked about what happened in the big city of Medan on the western side of Sumatra. Halfway through the trip, we took a one-hour plane ride to the eastern side. We stayed in the town of Sibolga.
We were now in a part of Sumatra that few Westerners get to see. Let me give you an idea of what I mean. The 15 mile ride from the airport to the town took one full hour because of the conditions of the road.
Sibolga is a small town on the edge of the mountains. As a matter of fact, the first thing we did when we got there was to take the road into the mountains. There was a special site we wanted to get to.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the roads we took looked like something taken from National Geographic magazine. They were narrow, winding roads, barely clinging to the sides of the mountain.
Two hours later we arrived at our destination. It was the place where the first missionaries to Sumatra (who were sent from Boston) were killed by the local Batak tribe. The Batak people now look back on that event with guilt and sadness. They have erected a memorial in honor of Lyman and Munson. That’s the picture at the top of this article.
But that brings me to the part we didn’t expect on this trip. This area is saturated with Batak churches. We came with the understanding that the area surrounding Sibolga needed the Gospel. So what was the problem?
We found that most of the local churches aren’t evangelizing the lost. A disconnect has formed between the churches and the missionaries. The local churches believe that it’s the missionaries’ job to win the lost, while it’s their job to build larger churches.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
I believe that preaching the Good News of Christ to the lost is not optional for any believer. Whether it’s next door or around the world, we all have a part to play.
Upon learning about this spiritual dilemma in the work being done here, we made a decision. What we learned served to strengthen our resolve to support and encourage the new breed of church planters that God was raising up on Sumatra.
Their goal is to present the Gospel to the unreached people around them. It’s not in their agenda to fill their churches with pre-existing Christians. They passionately desire to see the Kingdom of God increase.
Along with that, I believe that God gave me a personal goal as well. I want to come back to the island with teams of 4-5 people who can help the missionaries in their evangelism projects. I can also be an encouragement to local ministers and theological students with practical training and teaching.
Pray for the church planters and missionaries who are reaching souls on Sumatra. Pray for the local churches to get God’s vision for reaching the lost around them.
Question: How have you reached out to those around you who need Christ?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017