Living in the western suburbs of Jakarta provides a unique opportunity for encouraging and impacting future generations. The community in which we live hosts a university, and a secondary school, both of which are quite international. So we are learning what it is like to once more rub shoulders with the younger generation. We are adapting to their approaches to communication (another 10 WhatsApp messages just hit my phone) as we walk alongside one another in this journey of life from our often different perspectives.
Barb and I have gotten involved in a church just down the road from where we live comprised of students, young adults and younger families. Several of the parents are either teaching at one of the nearby educational institutions or are involved in technology jobs in the city. Some are from other countries around Asia, or from Africa, Australia or the US. As one of the longest married couples in our fellowship, we often are asked about our perspective on life in other cultures, how to adjust and respond to the sometimes unique challenges of living here. During a recent retreat in the mountains overlooking Jakarta we enjoyed spending time with several of the younger families in our church. Our creativity was challenged a bit as we got to know some of the children of these families.
Recently, I have also had the opportunity to minister to other churches in other parts of Jakarta. After sharing at a church in Bali earlier this year, I was invited to share a message (sprinkled with musical illustrations) with two services on one particular Sunday in April. Last Sunday, I was invited to share with a smaller congregation of Persian refugees that meet together in east Jakarta. These invitations help us make new friends and expand our horizons beyond the planned community where we live.
Next week, I’ll be off to Thailand again for a conference with other media ministries in which we’ll be developing ways to serve disciple making movements in sometimes difficult locations of the world. The strategy involves local groups that spring up to explore stories that introduce them to the God of Scripture. My goal is to bring back these strategies to share with FEBC producers who are looking for ways to influence new audiences who have not yet considered Jesus.
The previous four days had been pretty intense for the FEBC staffers who attended a digital media training event in Thailand earlier this month. For many, English is a second language, requiring even greater effort to understand the principles and skills they had come learn. Yet they were committed to persevere because of how it would help them interact with their audiences using today’s Internet-based media platforms. So we planned an extra day to meet together as FEBC to review and give the participants a chance to share with one another what they had learned and how they would apply it back home.
Barb had worked with me to make the arrangements, but now at the training site, I was on my own. I thought we were all set, but it was a bit odd that the resort staff had assigned us such a large meeting room. However, I was an hour early so thought I would have enough time to set up for the day’s conversations. Suddenly, about 20 minutes before the meeting was to start, the manager from the resort informed me I was in the wrong room! Our meeting room was on the other side of the resort!
Oh, no! Now what?! My mind started racing as I frantically disconnected my equipment to move to the new room. I quickly told a couple of the participants to start spreading the news about the change in venue. I used a bicycle to quickly find the new meeting room. Yet in the rush, I’d left my computer’s power supply back at the old venue. All I could think was this day was turning into a disaster. On my way back, I found some more FEBC staff who were looking for our place to meet. I hoped everyone would find our new location.
After setting up in the new room, we finally were all together, starting about 15 minutes late. We began with a time of worship and Bible study that helped us focus for the day (and helped me regroup!). Then the conversations started. Everyone there (23 in all) had something to share. We split up into four interest groups based on their training from the previous four days. Each group, with a large sheet of paper, started capturing their ideas and plans. We all agreed our conversations needed to continue once we returned home. We are eager to hear about one another’s successes and challenges, to encourage one another to turn these new dreams of connecting with our audiences online into reality.
What seemed to start as a disaster that day turned into even more than I had hoped. Seeing FEBC people come together, many of whom had never met each other before this week, was a joy to behold. Now back home again, the real work is starting. Please pray with me that the enthusiasm we shared will translate into fresh interaction with online audiences across FEBC focusing on the gospel. Thank you for your support in this way. It is vital and our teams appreciate it.
Once a year, the worldwide leadership of FEBC comes together in one place to explore opportunities and build relationships with one another for more effective ministry. This year’s meeting was held on the island of Bali, in the west central region of Indonesia. Representatives from more than 25 countries discussed key issues of working together as well as exploring the value of being a part of the FEBC International Association.
With more than 80 delegates and guests as part of the meeting, there were plenty of logistics to address. Our host team from FEBC Indonesia did an outstanding job of warmly welcoming each delegate. We in the International Service Team worked alongside them as we helped provide administrative support to the meetings themselves.
It’s been good to come together and share our hearts for ministry. However, this time around, we shared a bit more than what we would have liked. For whatever reason, there was a flu and cold virus just waiting for an opportunity to distract us with poor health. When we are all together in a conference room sharing the same air, it didn’t take long for the coughs to settle in. During some segments of the meetings, there was as much coughing going on as there was conversation. The virus hit Barb during the middle of the week. Fortunately, the other members of our admin team were able to fill in the gaps. I was able to stay healthy until the last day of the conference before I contracted a cold. When we returned back to Jakarta, we were still recovering from these nasty bugs.
This was also a time for the International Service Team to come together and discuss our plans for the coming year. There were budgets to consider as well as updates on ministry progress from a number of the team members.
During our time together, we learned of some serious challenges that our ministry in Cambodia has been facing with its property in the country. There have been a number of legal challenges to the ownership of one portion of property from where the ministry’s flagship station broadcasts. Most of these challenges have been unsuccessful so far, but they continue to occur. Please be praying for our leadership team in Cambodia as they work to protect the property amid some lengthy disputes. One recent challenge is still under litigation even at this time.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be traveling to Thailand to participate in a new technology media conference with a number of FEBC participants from around the ministry. Please be praying for the training sessions with producers and other local staff who are at the forefront of FEBC’s media ministries in their respective countries. I’ll be there to help facilitate discussions among the participants and assess the value of the conference and associated training to the broader FEBC family.
When a person finds something of value, there will often be some attention given to detail. That’s one of the ways to discover what’s important to a person, how he or she pays attention to the details surrounding it. Jesus even commented on that perspective in Matthew 13:44-46. If a man found an item of great value, he would do whatever it takes to obtain it.
Many of us live in a technology rich environment. We have ever increasing choices to access the content we’d like to view or hear. However, in some corners of the world today, the choice is far more limited. Whether its in a remote mountain village or a distant valley, some only have access to a shortwave radio for their information.
Recently, some visitors found their way up into such a remote location in Southeast Asia. Their report below gives us a bit of a glimpse of how some of the listeners to FEBC broadcasts value their privilege of hearing programs in their own language.
It is 4 years since the last visit to these isolated listeners. Not an easy journey over borders, bumpy roads to the end of the way, and then around 5 days walking through mountains! They carried new shortwave radios with them to distribute as gifts. They found that the 4 year’s ago distribution of a smaller number of radios were carefully kept. They are wrapped in cloth, carefully unwrapped to listen to the half-hour shortwave daily broadcast, and then wrapped again and gently put on the shelf until the next day’s program! The new shortwave radios were received with delight and joy. There is no electricity here.
Some listeners go away for 4-5 months at a time taking care of the goat herds. The shortwave radio is their pastor!
One preacher has written down 600 sermons from the shortwave programs in his language.
Praise the Lord for shortwave radio … providing God’s Word of truth and light to those in isolated places!
In today’s globally connected environment, shortwave radio is one technology that is gradually diminishing. FEBC remains committed to finding ways to continue to deliver content to listeners in these remote locations. You can see how much they value it. Please be praying for our ministry leaders as they decide how to deliver such content in an ever-changing media environment where some still depend on this technology.
Barb and I will covet your prayer support in the next few weeks as the FEBC leaders from around the world come together here in Indonesia for the annual meeting of the FEBC International Council. As part of the International Service Team, we are involved in helping provide services the delegates need during their meetings.
Now, before anyone panics, let me assure you that the Bartzes are still in southeast Asia, where it never gets close to freezing, much less ever snows! However, my ministry responsibilities have me involved in a variety of projects all across the FEBC world. In the last several months, our ministry in central Asia has been expanding its reach into another part of Kyrgyzstan. Up in the highlands of this part of the world, snow matters. So it was critical that this particular project get done before now. Let me give you a glimpse of FEBC’s project around Issyk-Kul (“Hot Lake” in English) in eastern Kyrgyzstan, the world’s second largest salt-water lake.
It’s a crisp October morning on the slopes of the western mountains near Kyrgyzstan’s largest lake, Issyk-Kul. The chill in the air is a persistent reminder that winter could be only days away. FEBC Kyrgyzstan’s director, Janysh, knows the time might be short, but he is ready. Today, he puts the finishing touches to a FM translator that will relay the broadcasts of OK Radio from Bishkek the capital city. By the end of the day another 300,000 potential listeners will be added to OK Radio’s audience. So just before winter sets in, the translator is indeed on the air.
During the past several months, this project has been a high priority across FEBC International. Funds for the project came from several FEBC offices. FEBCanada once again purchased and shipped the transmitter. Other vital equipment not available in Kyrgyzstan was ordered through FEBC-US with the guidance of engineers on FEBC’s International Service Team (IST). Bob from the IST project office worked with the region’s coordinator, Rudi, since the project’s inception to draft a comprehensive project plan. Each contribution was vital to ensure that the translator would be operating before winter.
Now the work really begins. For at least the next three years, Issyk-Kul residents will welcome a new friend into the region. Pray for the OK Radio team as they reach out and engage with their new listeners. For many living around the lake, it will be the first time they have ever heard the Good News.
By now, the transmitter site overlooking the lake will be isolated for the next several months. As is often the case, the road up the mountain will be impassable due to the snow. But the residents around Issyk-Kul will have a new companion as they stay warm along the lake’s wind-swept shores. Pray for these new listeners, that they might also experience the warmth of God’s love.
It’s always good to reconnect with the familiar, especially in the middle of a transition. We have been working toward getting ourselves settled in Indonesia for the past three months, but I knew there would be a time when I would have the opportunity to return to South Africa. Earlier this year, I was invited to speak at two workshops as part of the Africa by Radio (now known as AbR Media) Continental Convention that was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. So even though we were still waiting to fully settle in Jakarta, at the beginning of September, I departed for that visit, leaving Barb to manage the office and home.
Prior to the convention, I was able to spend a few days visiting offices where Barb and I had worked while living there. During those seven years, we worked with FEBA Radio South Africa and TWR-Africa. Both organizations have experienced changes in the last year. It was encouraging to visit each office and see how God has been at work in their respective ministries.
I managed to re-connect with several colleagues and friends over my time there. Some had been former colleagues at ether FEBA or TWR. I caught up with friends from each of the three churches we attended while living in the country. I met with some musician friends, exchanging stories and perspectives about our shared passion. I was blessed to spend an evening with our most recent home cell group, where we explored together God’s strength and stability. Even though it was a full schedule, I treasured each and every moment to extend the relationships we shared.
The convention provided me the opportunity to reunite with several ministry partners through the AbR network. I was encouraged to meet the project coordinator from Radio Wimbi in Mozambique. This project has been on the air now for two years. The station has received several reports of listeners who, previously uninterested in following Jesus, started visiting some churches in the city. Even though I am no longer actively involved in these media projects, God continues to lead each one to greater effectiveness and fruit in ministry.
I presented two workshops during the convention program. One workshop focused on digital radio across Africa. Regulatory bodies in several countries are now making plans to convert radio broadcasts to digital platforms. I led an interactive discussion about how radio stations should participate in the process and prepare for what will eventually come. The second workshop explored mentoring among media ministries in Africa. Over the years, western mentors have sought to encourage local African media professionals for greater influence in ministry. Our session examined the challenges and opportunities Africans face to actively mentor others in their local contexts. This strategy may be key to greatly expanding the impact of media across this vast continent.
I returned just in time for the arrival of our personal effects that shipped from South Africa at the end of August. Our agent in Indonesia cleared the shipment through customs such that we were able to take delivery at our home at the end of this last week. All has arrived in good shape. We are now in the process of arranging our home with the familiar sights, sounds and smells of Asia and Africa. This is the final step to establishing our home, so we can now focus fully on the ministry God has for us here.
Thank you for praying with us in this transition. We are encouraged to see what God is going to do next!
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.