Mid way through September the leadership of the Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church (GKLI) traveled some 300 miles from their office in Sihabonghabong to the Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra. The journey was not easy. The roads are rough, the ferries do not do much beside keep everyone afloat, and the already hot weather is compounded by the smoke from fires throughout the Island of Sumatera. The journey was worthwhile, however, because on Sunday September 15, 2019 ten new congregations were received into the GKLI.
In Indonesia every congregation must legally be part of a registered church body. This law threatened the existence of these ten congregations as the government did not recognize their church body, The Christian Lutheran Church of Mentawai (GKLM). They could not in good conscience join church bodies around them, because they wanted to remain faithful in their Lutheran identity. So they sought out a Lutheran church body, and found the GKLI.
A quick internet search reveals that the Mentawai Islands are internationally known for excellent surfing. So most the pictures you find of the islands are of tourists and big ocean waves. Unfortunately these pictures do not tell the whole story of the people of Mentawai. They struggle with severe poverty, isolation, many lack quality education, and the congregations there need help as they seek to be faithful to Jesus.
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has been fostering a budding relationship with the GKLI for several years now. As the GKLI expands so does our work in Indonesia! Plans are already underway to bring them a seminar on the Small Catechism in early 2020. These new congregations also diversify the GKLI. The people of Mentawai are not of the Batak tribe. So they will help the members of the GKLI to understand themselves not as a Batak church, but as an Indonesian church.
Please give thanks to God that these congregations have found a place in a legal church body, the GKLI. Give thanks to God for his work through the GKLI to preserve these congregations and keep them working on the Mentawai Islands. Pray that this new relationship is fruitful and beneficial for everyone involved!