Category Archives: Indonesia
Over the past few weeks, my time has been focused on preparing for a pilot workshop for media teams in Indonesia. This workshop, called “Content in Context” was held on Aug 8-10 and is sanctioned under Asia by Media, a network of international media organizations operating in Asia. Offered to teams located in Indonesia, the workshop created environments for a team to explore their media efforts from their unique perspectives of their audience. It is the first time this framework, formulated during my time in Africa, has been presented in this way. It assists teams to discover meaningful and creative ways of delivering their messages in ways the audience would value.
There were four teams from Asia by Media member organizations participating in the workshop. It didn’t take long for the teams to appreciate what they were learning. Brief introductions to tools to help them explore their audiences and evaluate their content set the stage for individual team discussions. Each team then applied the tools to their issues and strategies. This allowed the teams to find answers to the questions most important to them. As I visited each team at various times, it was quite clear the workshop was giving them fresh and valuable perspectives on their content. New discoveries were surfacing, including the need to understand more about their audiences.
The workshop was quite interactive, both within the teams and during sessions when we all met together. Some of the comments heard from participants included:
- “We need to visit our listeners regularly so that we can learn more about their values and needs.”
- “Once or twice a month, our team is going to listen to one of our programs from the perspective of our audience.”
- “We need to review the different programs we produce to evaluate how well they match with our intended audience.” The workshop introduced a tool to help with this.
- “I realized that I need to know more about my audience.”
There are already discussions starting about conducting this workshop again for other teams, both here in Indonesia and elsewhere around Asia. I’m currently working on a report for Asia by Media to share the results of this pilot. In September, at our steering committee meeting in Japan, we will review these and make some decisions about how to proceed with the concept.
This was also the first time Barb and I had organized this kind of workshop. Barb was instrumental in handling the registration details, coordinating with our hosts, and communicating with the participants prior to the workshop. Her diligence to the many logistic details to organize the event made a huge contribution to its impact on the participants.
For those who have prayed with us about this workshop, please thank God for the answers to your prayers. There was much evidence that God was at work.
We anticipated being busy in May. Now that I look back at the month just past, all the places we’ve been, and the variety of people we’ve met, it is no wonder we’re feeling just a bit tired. Barb and I traveled together to Bali and Hong Kong. I made my first visit to Australia while Barb tossed in a trip up to Bangkok in Thailand. So after visiting 6 different airports last month, we’re ready to stay in Jakarta for a few weeks so we can get some focus for the coming months.
The month started off with a visit to Bali, another island in Indonesia. We’ve been there several times in the past so are getting familiar with the place. This time, we spent a few days meeting up with several of our former colleagues at TWR. We built some wonderful relationships with several staff, both in Africa and in Asia. While they were part of TWR’s emerging leaders’ summit, Barb and I were able to cross paths with them as well other members of the FEBC family who also joined this inter-mission conference. It was encouraging to see younger leaders from the different media ministries working and preparing together.
I then paid a visit to the eastern side of Australia for meetings with Asia by Media, a forum of media ministries in Asia. The two days of planning focused on an upcoming workshop for Indonesian content teams currently scheduled for August. I also participated in a conference on Christian media. This conference was quite helpful as there was a major emphasis on the use of digital media and the networking opportunities available with our audiences through today’s social media platforms. This is a key topic for many of our teams using social media to engage with their audiences.
Shortly after I returned from Australia, Barb took a special trip to Bangkok Thailand to visit with some of her good friends from the Philippines who were part of a Bible study group several years back. The three of them had a wonderful time exploring Bangkok together and encouraging one another.
Soon after her return, Barb and I traveled together to Hong Kong to participate in a digital media conference sponsored by FEBC for content teams focusing on Chinese languages. The teams explored approaches to their online ministry efforts. This conference confirmed a number of principles I’d heard in Australia. I was particularly encouraged to see the steps that our colleagues are taking with volunteers to interact with those contacting FEBC through social media channels.
We have now returned to Jakarta and are prepared to settle in for a few weeks. We need to focus our efforts to prepare for the Asia by Media sanctioned workshop which I will be leading. That will be followed by a FEBC programming directors’ summit in Thailand in September. We will value your prayers for clarity and diligence as I work on the agendas for each conference and Barb assists with the logistics.
Following these upcoming events, Barb and I are planning to return to the US for a few months of home assignment beginning at the end of September. We’ll be in the country through sometime in January 2018. We anticipate a fair bit of travel when we are home but look forward to meeting family, friends, supporters, and churches involved in our ministry.
Just after Valentine’s Day last month, I had the opportunity to visit one of FEBC’s FM radio stations here in Indonesia. This station was the second one to be constructed in what would soon be the birth of the Heartline network. I had visited this city of 300,000 people back when the station was first envisioned in 2001. So who would have thought, after 15 years of operation, I would have the chance to see how the station has been doing.
Much has changed since 2001. I arrived at a much different airport (in a different city, though) than the one I visited back then. It has been significantly upgraded because of the economic development in the region. It turns out that the island of Kalimantan has a number of natural resources which make it a destination for many investors. The city of Samarinda, where the station broadcasts, has grown considerably. Roads are in better condition. The signs of economic progress are everywhere, from construction taking place to a thriving port on the river passing through the valley. While FEBC’s station was one of the first in the city, I was privileged to also see two other stations during the visit.
FEBC’s station is still faithfully broadcasting from a residential subdivision nestled back against a hill that overlooks the city. The tower is located just below the summit. Programming is in the national language and in English. Much of the original studio equipment is still in service today.
The station has not been without its challenges. Just recently, the original transmitter was replaced with a much smaller and more efficient unit that still provides a strong signal. The tower supports not only the station’s antenna, but a number of other services. A few months before my visit, the top portion of the tower collapsed because the tower is getting older. It had been repaired by the time I arrived. The station already has a newer tower ready to put up, but it is still waiting for clearance from the government to do so.
A special part of the visit included a thanksgiving service that was hosted at a prayer chapel right next to the transmitter site. Approximately 30 people came on Saturday morning to pray for the broadcasts and to thank God for the provision of this new transmitter. Many have been faithfully listening to the station over the years and expressed their appreciation for the broadcasts. I met several of them after the service, including one woman who is completely blind. Heartline’s broadcasts have been very special to her.
Continue to pray for this radio station as they face a number of challenges in their operation. Besides struggling to upgrade their equipment, they face significant competition from the other stations in the city. Pray that the station and its staff would not only survive, but learn to thrive in the dynamic environment of growth that will broaden their audience beyond the churches in the community. I’m encouraged to see that God is still at work in a station I had the privilege, in a small way, to help get started.
Barb is enthusiastic about helping others study the word of God. I’ll let her tell you about what’s happening:
“Why are you here studying the Gospel of John?” “What do you hope to learn this year?” These were some of the questions discussed at the first Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class a few weeks ago. Last year was my (Barb) first experience with BSF, when we studied the book of Revelation. This year, I was asked to be a group discussion leader. I am thrilled to be able to serve God in this way – to encourage other women to study God’s word inductively.
Each week we each do individual study in the Gospel of John, then gather together as a group to discuss the things God is teaching us through His Word. After the discussion, all six groups gather together to listen to our teaching leader, Viska, share from God’s Word. Throughout the week, I pray for the women in my group and contact each one to encourage them in their spiritual walk.
What a blessing it is to get to know these women! And what a blessing to study afresh the life of Jesus Christ as told by the apostle John. God has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ. At times, the world that we live in can appear quite dark and oppressive. When we see the crime, terrorism, and social changes around us, we may wonder what the future holds for us and our children.
John 1:4-5 reminds us, “In Him (Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
The life we have in Christ brings light to our individual lives, to our families, and to our world. His light is continually shining. The darkness around us will never overcome the Light. God calls all followers of Jesus to shine His light to the world around us.
As you pray, please consider these:
- Pray for me as I lead the BSF discussion group. May each woman grow closer to Jesus as we learn from Him.
- Pray for Nathan as he continues to look for a full-time job in Orlando, FL.
- Pray for us as we make preparations to host our International Service Team mid-year retreat here in Jakarta Nov 7-11.
Moving across town is one thing. Moving to another state can be another. However, when moving halfway around the world into another culture, expectations can be quite misguiding. We’ve certainly experienced a few bumps (or should I say “adjustments”) in the last few weeks as we’ve been settling into our new home and work environment in the western suburbs of Jakarta, Indonesia. With each detour and diversion, we’re slowly learning how “things” work. I’m wondering if maybe the bumps aren’t just differences in expectations rather than shortcomings in various procedures.
While it has taken us some time, we are now pleased to report that our paperwork for being in the country has all been completed, We’ve been each granted a KITAS card that identifies us as temporary residents in the country. Another stamp in our passports indicates that we can travel in and out of the country freely. With all of these documents, signatures, and permissions in place, we are now pursuing the shipment of our personal effects from South Africa. We are hopeful that they will arrive about a month to six weeks from now. Pray that we will be able to coordinate the arrangements. I need to be back from my trip to Africa by the time the shipment arrives so it can be processed through customs in Jakarta.
We made the decision to purchase a vehicle (called “mobil”) for our own transportation needs. We found one suitable for city driving and have been working with the dealer to finalize the purchase. The car is all ready for delivery to us, except for one detail. The license has not yet been processed. Apparently, the local government office that licenses vehicles lost Internet access for the past several days so all license applications are on hold. Having an extra holiday in that time didn’t help. We remain hopeful that the car will be registered this week so we can take delivery.
Two weeks ago, the area in which we live experienced a three day water outage. It seems that the dry season here has been drier than normal and the rains are slow in coming. As a result, a number of areas across the country are experiencing water shortages. We ran out of water in our storage tank on day two, so were thankful when the water returned, unannounced, at the end of day three. We had two shorter outages since then, but nothing major. We’re looking forward to the rains coming to top up the municiple reservoirs.
We took yet another step to feeling at home this past week with the purchase of furniture for the office we use at our host, FEBC Indonesia. The office has mostly been used by visitors with borrowed furnishings from the local operation. Since arriving, Barb and I worked out a plan and received budget approval at the end of July for the additional hardware. With that, I ordered office furniture as well as the necessary computer accessories for my new office. With this in place, we’ll be able to focus more on our work. We’ll also be able to accommodate visitors and have sufficient privacy for meetings and conversations around ministry.
We started our language studies in earnest this past week, working with a tutor in Bandung, another city on the island of Java. We are taking lessons from her via Skype. We have study notes and lessons as well as lists of vocabulary words to learn and remember. My recall isn’t all it could be. We also need to be diligent in our practice of the language, even though we don’t know what to say immediately in nearly every situation. However, the intense focus of the lessons is making a difference even at this early stage. Continue to pray with us for diligence to grasp the language, persistence to practice speaking with those we meet, and patience for them as they try to understand what we’re saying.
We haven’t been the only part of the family in transition these days. A couple weeks ago, Nathan, our son, received a surprise phone call from a radio station in Harvey, ND. They were looking for an announcer that would also include local sports coverage of teams in the central part of the state. Nathan put together a couple of demos and was called for an interview. Liking his voice, the manager offered him the job starting later this week. So Nathan is going through his things and getting ready for this major shift to a new community. Please pray that this will go smoothly for him and that he can build new relationships after several years in Minot. We are all excited that he has the opportunity to pursue what he’s been dreaming of doing, being on the radio doing sports.
As you can probably tell, very few days have been the same. Each day has been one of adjustment, small joys while appreciating our new environment and building new relationships. As we get more settled, we’ll have further updates on how ministry is taking place here across Asia and the rest of the FEBC world.
We have finally made it to Jakarta, Indonesia and are in the process of getting settled into our new home. While we knew this would be a process, we had a few more twists and turns along the way. We are indeed grateful for the support and encouragement we’ve received from the the staff here at FEBC who have been helping us work through many of the details.
It took a bit longer than what we originally thought to get our visa. There was some confusion about the process that resulted in an extra trip to Singapore. After about three weeks of uncertainty, we were eventually rewarded with visas in our passports on July 13. Now that we are back in Jakarta, we are in the process of completing a number of other requirements to obtain documents we need to live in the country.
In the meantime, we’ve been able to find a home near the FEBC office in the western suburbs of Jakarta. With the assistance of Yaski staff, we found a suitable house within our budget that we could rent. The lease has been signed. We were able to move in at the beginning of July and are now setting up the home. We still have to wait for our shipment from South Africa, but with the help of the landlord lending some furniture to us, we are able to live in our subdivision rather than in a hotel.
In the midst of the moving, traveling, and settling, we were invited to participate in the Heartline staff retreat of FEBC Indonesia. This provided a good way for us to meet the staff in a more informal setting and start to get to know them. The two day event was filled with activities, meals, and sessions designed to help us interact with one another. It also reinforced our motivation to learn the local language!
In the weeks ahead, we have a number of prayer requests as we continue to settle into our new ministry roles here in Asia:
- Pray for the completion of the rest of our documents that will allow us to be in the country. We cannot send our shipment or travel outside the country until these documents are obtained.
- Pray for our plans to study the Indonesian language. We are working on an audio course at the moment but are considering more formal study, most likely with a tutor over Skype so that we can remain in our home .
- Pray for our adjustment to the environment and culture. We are still in the process of learning our way around the area and how to transact business in shops and stores to purchase what we need. Just purchasing drinking water took longer today as many shops had run out over the extended holiday.
We are glad to be in Jakarta. As we adapt to the way of life here, we are trusting we will also build relationships with those around us. We are grateful for many of you back home who are helping make this all possible.
Let me see, which side of the world am I on now? The month of May was a whirlwind of travel and conversations all drawing me into the new role of project management at FEBC. It concluded with the realization that I would be heading back to Asia sooner than I thought. I’m now back in Minnesota only long enough to repack and make the move to Indonesia in a few days’ time.
I traveled to Cambodia from May 18 to June 1 to start up the renovation of FEBCambodia’s headquarters in Phnom Penh. I met with a project management consultant who we expect to help us with the remodeling required to accommodate new production and broadcast studio equipment. The entire headquarters will be transformed to better engage staff and listeners for more effective ministry.
I also worked on a number of other projects that FEBCambodia is planning for the future, including an outreach to believers in the provinces as well as reaching the next generation of listeners across the Internet through mobile phone technology. I’m expecting this will require a significant portion of my attention in the coming months.
Barb and I were thrilled to hear the news from the FEBC operation in Indonesia that our visa was approved. The process required our application be passed through a number of government agencies before it was finally approved at the end of May. We are grateful for all of those who have helped us in Jakarta as well as those who have committed this matter to prayer.
Returning to Asia
With the visa waiting for us in Singapore, we have plans to depart the US in the next few days. We anticipate leaving for Asia on June 17. We will visit Singapore first to pick up the visa. We’re expecting to be in Jakarta by June 24, when we will begin the process of settling into our next ministry assignment.
Please pray for us during the transition to this new environment.
- We will be looking for a suitable place to live. We are hoping to find a home nearby the FEBC headquarters where our office will be located.
- Pray for a smooth process of completing our papers upon arrival in the country. We need to have special documents in place for permission to import our personal effects, rent our home, and set up services we need to begin our life in the community.
- Pray for the safe and timely arrival of our personal effects from South Africa. We’ll have to wait a bit once we authorize the shipment but it will be an important step to getting settled.
- We are still working on arrangements for some language study upon arrival. We will have to choose a course that will best meet our needs and the place where we will study.
- We will be seeking a new church fellowship where we can further our spiritual growth as well as engage in ministry. We’re trusting God to lead us to an English speaking church seeking to strategically impact others as they walk with Jesus.
So our next adventure has begun. We are on our way to Indonesia to help projects not only in that country but across the rest of the FEBC family. In the coming months, I’m expecting to be impacting ministry in Southeast Asia, Central Asia, India and even back in Africa. We appreciate so many of you who have partnered with us to reach many hearts for Jesus through media.
You remember the feeling. The traffic light is yellow and you know you won’t make it through before it turns red. So you stop at the intersection for the crossing traffic to pass. But wait, there isn’t any! Now you must sit at this open intersection, halted until that light changes. All you can do is, well . . . wait, for no apparent benefit, until the light authorizes you to go.
We found out this past week we will be in for some more waiting. For the past several months, we’ve been planning to establish a new role and location for ministry with FEBC in Indonesia. We are still moving in that direction, but it’s going to take a while for us to get there. We learned that the visa application process in Indonesia is going to take longer than originally thought. The government is taking additional care in reviewing visa applications. As a result, we were informed not to expect approval of our visa before June 1 this year. Until then, Barb and I will wait in the US.
This does not mean that we are idle. Since January, when I assumed my new role of providing project management services to FEBC International, I have been receiving a variety of project proposals for expanding ministry across the FEBC world. The projects have included upgrading FM radio station facilities in Indonesia, expanding FM networks in central Asia and Mongolia, and a major studio and office renovation in Cambodia. There are other projects in training and new media on the horizon which will need attention. Behind the scenes, I (with Barb’s administrative assistance) support FEBC’s International leadership with processes to help them review and select projects for action and funding.
We will now be staying in the US longer than we had originally planned. This will impact our living situation in the weeks to come. Our home church in Minnesota had graciously provided us with temporary housing during our expected 6 month stay. With our time extending, we need to make some adjustments, which may include moving to another home in the next few weeks. We are considering a number of options but need wisdom to balance our living arrangements against being ready to depart for Indonesia as soon as the visa becomes available.
So in the meantime, we are active in ministry from wherever God might place us. Please pray for the visa process in Indonesia, that our application will be granted favor and result in the approval of our visas to move to Jakarta.