Overview of 2014 Missionary Visit to Indonesia
In November 2012, with the blessings of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos and His Eminence Metropolitan Konstantinos of Singapore, eight men from the Greek Orthodox Christian Society travelled to Medan, Indonesia, for a ten-day medical and missionary visit at the request of Fr Chrysostomos Manalu, an Orthodox priest of Indonesian background. Over the last 2 years, Lychnos has published a number of articles outlining various aspects of this visit. Towards the end of 2014, nine members of the Orthodox Christian Society revisited Indonesia again. This article will reflect on their relationship with the Indonesian Orthodox and overview aspects of this most recent trip. Further articles on the visit will follow in future editions.
Indonesia is a close neighbour of Australia, with a population of more than 250 million people. Most are Muslims, with about 10% of the population being Christian. Orthodoxy came to Indonesia relatively recently. The Indonesian Orthodox belong to the spiritual flock of Metropolitan Konstantinos of Singapore.
In 2012, Fr Chrysostomos Manalu invited us to Medan, Indonesia. In 2012, we saw first-hand the scope of work enacted by the Holy Spirit: St Paul’s theological college, several parishes and schools and the Theotokos Hospital. Medical and dental clinics allowed us to make close contact with people and help in practical ways. A number of important surgical operations were funded. The fundraising effort also helped complete the construction of the church of St John Prodromos, on the outskirts of Medan.
This initial interaction between the Indonesian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox from Australia had profound impacts on all of us. We were moved by the Indonesian people’s love, gentleness, humility and Christian zeal. We who were born Orthodox, marvelled at those who made the active decision to embrace Orthodoxy.
The Holy Spirit continues to be active in Indonesia. Since 2012, two local Indonesian Orthodox have been ordained to the priesthood.
In November 2014, another group of nine men from the Greek Orthodox Christian Society went back to Medan. This second trip was a natural consequence of the initial visit. It allowed for a deepening of our relationship with our Indonesian brothers and sisters in Christ. Fundraising prior to the recent trip secured the purchase of a much needed electricity generator for the Theotokos Hospital. Medan has a notoriously irregular electricity supply.
The recent trip enabled us to continue the work of the first visit. We were shown more trust. We visited more regions. We saw more people. We performed medical and dental clinics most days of the visit. These clinics attracted huge crowds of Orthodox and non-Orthodox. We also visited remote areas in the mountains around Medan and on a neighbouring island of Nias (affected by the tsunami in 2004 and a major earthquake in 2006). We worked in the slums of Medan, surrounded by pollution and poverty. During our visit, Fr Chrysostomos organised a theological seminar on St Paul, attended by many ministers and pastors from non-Orthodox denominations. There were more than 300 registrants. Dr John Psarommatis and Andrew Psarommatis presented talks at this important seminar.
One of the highlights of the 2014 visit was meeting His Eminence Metropolitan Konstantinos. His Eminence witnessed the medical and dental team in action at a busy clinic conducted in the church of St John Prodromos on the outskirts of Medan. We had the blessing to attend the Divine Liturgy officiated by His Eminence on the Feast Day of St Nicholas. We learnt from His Eminence of the triumphs and difficulties that Orthodoxy faces in Indonesia and the surrounding regions.
Metropolitan Kallistos, a professor of Orthodox Theology at Oxford University, has developed the idea that relationships are important to personhood. No one who is isolated, cut off, inward looking is truly a person in the image of God. The early Christians had a saying “unus Christianus, nullus Christianus.” That is, a Christian isolated, on their own, cannot truly be a Christian. We need our Indonesian brethren, in order to be ourselves.
Source: April–May 2015 Lychnos Edition