2017 Indonesia – Esther Keyser

Love Wins
(audio mp3)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12

My story is about the pastors we partnered with and how they have transformed my life.

As our airplane touched down at Manado airport, my soul leapt. After two plane rides, we were finally here! After a good night’s rest and delicious breakfast of chicken rice porridge, followed by the sweetest tea I’ve ever had, the pastors arrived. As introductions were being made, it was so evident that joy and love were going to grace our trip. We would be partnering with two local pastors: Pastor Daud who is affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ (or CCC) and is the regional director of East Indonesia – as well as Pastor Rentje who oversees the Manado region for CCC. Their beautiful wives, Merry and Wany (our interpreter) accompanied us on the entire trip.

I had the opportunity of being able to spend a lot of time with the pastors, and they gave me a glimpse into the lives they were leading. I was so blessed to be able to see just a small part of that. At the beginning of the trip, through random conversations, unbeknownst to me, Pastor Rentje discovered I was German. We had just arrived at a local university campus, and I remember I was just praising God for the beautiful weather, when suddenly Pastor Rentje stood beside me and started to speak German to me. Joy flooded my heart. Through this connection, Pastor Rentje and I began to connect. Throughout the trip God showed me Pastor Rentje’s heart and the love he had for Indonesia. The sacrifices he has had to make, the hardships he has had to endure. I learnt about those who had pioneered Christianity in Manado and how he was now one of them- preaching the Gospel to all who will hear.

I was especially touched by Wany, his wife. Here was a woman who was deeply in love with Jesus. She selflessly translated at so many of our services, and with such a joyful heart. I remember always seeing her carrying so much joy, no matter how early or late it was. One night during our trip, we had the pleasure of sleeping over at an elder’s house. Due to lack of space, Wani and I had to share a bed but not once did I get the feeling of complaint from her. I woke up in the morning to the voice of someone singing. I opened my eyes and saw her sitting with her head bowed over her Bible, singing to the Lord. That image brought tears to my eyes. I was so drawn to the love she carried, the supernatural overflowing love of Jesus.

Oh, and Pastor Daud and his wife Merry. As we travelled all over Manado, I had moments with Merry where I was so blessed by her heart and her source of encouragement to those around her. As we spoke, she spoke about her heart for God and how God had always called her to Manado. Since she was young, she had given her life to the Lord and simply went wherever He called her. She spoke with such faith, declaring God’s goodness and faithfulness in every circumstance. Even though she couldn’t speak English very well, I felt like we had known each other for ages. Her oneness with Pastor Daud was lovely to see- always ready to support and minister with her husband.

Pastor Daud is one of the funniest and sweetest man I’ve ever met. From day one, he set the team off with laughs and giggles. We dubbed him the “Godfather” because he had like this small moustache and even spoke with a rasping voice. But with his funny side, came the ferocious and passionate heart for Jesus. He was open to everything our team did and what our team leader Pastor Daniel and team preacher, Pastor Paul felt led by God to do. He danced along to our children’s songs and skits and prayed with us. One moment that stands out exceedingly was when, on our last day, we were told that we would minster with a group of people from Papua. Pastor Daud, originally from Papua, had established a community for them out of his own heart. When we met them, Pastor Daud stood like a proud father, prayerfully watching over them.

There are so many more stories I could share but that could take a few hours. I decided to share about the lives of these pastors because the power of God is so evident in their lives. Here are people who have made the choice to love on the people of Indonesia with no sense of self-fulfillment or duty. Day after day they go out to love on the people in the surrounding communities. They have their own hardships to endure, yet they have chosen Love. Daily they receive persecution or have doors shut, yet they continue to pour out love. Even if only one person gets to experience the transformational love of Jesus, then their mission is accomplished.

This mission trip was not about me- not by a long shot. It was about Jesus. Jesus came into the world that every tongue and tribe shall know his love and his goodness. Jesus commanded us to love as he loves us. To love freely and without restraint. To smile and bring hope. To pray and to encourage. To be bold and declare God’s freedom over strongholds and bondage. His love for us enables us to love those around us. Thank you Jesus!