Apart but not Alone
God is not distanced. This truth was experienced by Indonesian Ministry through a song.
By Kristine Lee
When Indonesian MInistry stopped physical services in lieu of COVID-19, Connect Group Leader Irsan Jie felt prompted to find creative ways to care and connect.
Since physical services stopped for Indonesian Ministry, we started online Connect Group meetings and coming together on Facebook Watch Parties for English services online. Still, I felt some measure of detachment within the community. Many of our members really miss the fellowship and hearing the Indonesian sermons from the pastors. Away from their physical families in other countries, church was like family here. We would get together, have lunch, share, and pray together. Now some are not even allowed to go out of the house. It is a stressful time.
So I was thinking - how can we encourage and still care and connect with one another? As Christians, we are called to love one another and this is the time. Then I recalled one of my favorite Bahasa Indonesian songs which I first came across more than 30 years ago in primary school. That song, based on Psalm 23, opened my eyes to Jesus as my Shepherd. Psalm 23 became my favorite passage, and anchor to my life in times of crisis.
About 15 years ago, my wife Mira had kidney failure. I did not have the finances to support her medical expenses. I was anxious that I would lose her. In the middle of the valley, Mira and I remembered the song on Psalm 23 entitled "TuhanadalahGembalaku" or "The Lord is my Shepherd".
It reminded us that Jesus was with us even though it felt like we are alone. And our loving Shepherd will guide us through the valley and to rest in green pastures. Psalm 23 gave us hope.
And as we, in tears, came to trust Jesus, He kept His Word. We never lacked. Mira was one of the rare few blessed ones to successfully get a kidney transplant. He has led us through many valleys and we have not lacked. This was the hope we need. The leaders were all very supportive of the idea. We all came together and got this done in less than a week. It's not musically polished and it's not meant to be so. It has served to engage and encourage.
I know this was a lifeline to some members who are going through crisis. Even some leaders have been blessed, hearing this song for the first time. The truth that Jesus is with them, and will lead them of the valley brings them much hope.
"When the world was shaken by COVID-19, I too became worried and fearful. I couldn’t sleep, worrying about my business in Indonesia. When my brother David rang to inform me that the business had come to a halt, I was devastated. 'Can my business still go on in, or must it be closed?' Anxious thoughts clouded my mind.
Then I recalled this song on Psalm 23 that my leaders in Indonesian Ministry sent to me. It reminded me that God is the Shepherd who cares and provides for His sheep. He provides even when the sheep try to rely on their own strength and find their own ways, like me.
I sang this song again and cried, declaring that Jesus cares and He will provide, and that I will trust in Him alone.
Within two days David called again. And he had good news! Someone made a bulk order, so now we have income! I cried and thanked God for answering my prayer. God's promises are true and He is in control." - Grace Pratiwi
When the Malaysian government announced the Movement Control Order, my husband rushed into Singapore. We have been separated since. Struggling on my own with our three young children aged 5, 2.5 and 5 months is not easy.
To make matters worse, my husband soon lost his job due to the COVID-19 situation. He also now had to find his own accommodation. Then the circuit breaker started. It was getting more difficult to get a job with companies shutting and the Ministry of Manpower increasingly rejecting work permits. My husband’s work permit was also rejected.
With my husband as the sole breadwinner and the high cost of living in Singapore was stacked against us, I was struggling with our household’s needs. The children were also always asking, 'where’s daddy?' It was very, very difficult. So when DiscoveryLand launched the online packs, it brought some relief. Our children could now attend service despite not being able to be in Singapore. My eldest was missing DiscoveryLand so much. Prayers and help from Ministry leaders were a lifeline. When the Indonesian Ministry leaders sent the song based on Psalm 23 titled "Tuhan adalah Gembalaku" to us, it brought forth a breakthrough. Not in circumstances but in helping us find that trust in God.
I believe if God allowed us to go through these difficulties, He has something better in store for us.
Through these difficult times, we cherish one another more as a family. Our relationship has been strengthened. In the past, my husband would not have much time for the family as he works in Singapore. Now that he has decided to return to Malaysia, we will have more time together.
God always cares, protects and even abounds us with all that we need, so we can say "we lack nothing, we are not afraid of the valley of death because God is our Shepherd.” He is with us in this. Even now, His blessings and care continue to abound in us. And I believe God has gone ahead of us to give us a better future. His help is never late.
Thank you, pastors and leaders for being there for us through this journey." - Naomi Mesirun
Here's the song:
Reflect & Respond
How can you respond knowing that Jesus is the good Shepherd who will not leave you nor forsake you?
Which part of Psalm 23 speaks most to you?
How can you share this true hope to someone as we weather COVID-19 together?