by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I Thessalonians 2:7-13
I. Reading from Isaiah 35:1-10
A. Vs 3 - Encourage, strengthen
B. Vs 8 - A highway – an easier way to travel through life
II. My trips to the South Asian islands started in 2013.
A. I had been studying with a young man, named Minghui, in the National University of Singapore for several years via Skype. He had asked me repeatedly to come hold a meeting in Singapore and things worked out for me to come in 2013.
B. That same year I had began studying with a young man on the island of Bali in Indonesia. Pieter decided to become a New Testament Christian, but there were no churches on that island. The nearest church was 1.5 hours away by plane and people weren’t certain it still existed. Pieter was baptized by a denominational preacher.
C. After my meeting in Singapore, Minghui and I went down to Bali to talk to Pieter. The studies went very well. A few weeks later Ed Brand was in Singapore. Minghui invited Pieter up and Pieter’s sister joined him. After talking with Ed, Mia decided to be baptized and Pieter decided to be baptized again to make sure his baptism was done correctly.
D. Both Ed Brand and Bob Buchanan started regular visits to Bali.
E. Since that time the group has expanded to include Pieter’s brother, Marco; his father; his business partner, Marlen; and her sister, Ria.
1. Mia and Ria are on a different island, so don’t attend with Pieter, Marlen, and Marco.
2. Martine, whom I baptized in 2016, fell back into drugs and no longer attends.
3. Pieter and Marco’s father doesn’t attend either.
F. This last year has been a struggle for Pieter and Marlen. A volcano on the north end of the island blew, which interrupted tourism for several months. In turn, it caused financial hardship for Pieter and Marlen. And the lack of new conversions was depressing them.
G. My main goals were to encourage the brethren and push them a little to grow stronger in the Gospel.
A. Kuta, on the island of Bali in Indonesia, is a tourist town. Bali is surrounded by long beaches which draws many people from around the world. There are about 2 million people in the Denpasar area, of which Kuta is one suburb.
1. While Indonesia is a Muslim country, Bali is primarily Hindu. 85% of the island’s population is Hindu, 13% are Muslim, and only 1.5% claim to be some sort of Christian.
2. Hindu idols and temples are everywhere
3. Because it is a tourist town, English is commonly spoken as a second language.
B. For the five days I was there, the typical schedule was:
1. 6:30 am breakfast
2. 7-9 am Bible study
3. 11:30 am lunch
4. 1-3 pm Bible Study
5. 6-8 pm Bible Study
6. 8-9:30 pm dinner
A. Because I arrived at 1 am, we did not meet until the afternoon.
B. Met in the afternoon with Pieter and Marlen. Marlen could not stay as someone needed to watch the shop. I covered a few questions Pieter had from the end of I Samuel. Pieter wanted to discuss what the Scriptures had to say on finances
C. Kuta attracts the Australian crowd, which means lots of bars. I went exploring in the late afternoon. I thought I remembered the way to the beach, but I couldn’t find the right turn. I did conclude that the street I went down was not a nice part of town – too many solicitations for massages.
D. Marco joined Pieter and Marlen. We talked about working ethics.
E. Pieter and Marlen took me out to a food court for dinner
A. Met with Pieter and Marlen in the morning. We talked about what roles a woman can have in the church and modest dress.
B. Did some exploring in the late morning. I found the beach and explored another street that was a bit better than the one I found the first day.
C. Walked to Pieter and Marlen’s shop for the afternoon class, which is about 1.5 miles from the hotel. There was no power for the first hour, which made things a bit hot. We talked about personal money matters and planning for uncertainites.
D. Met the owner of a plant grower on my walk back. She hand signed that she was impressed that I walked. But she didn’t understand my answers to her questions.
E. In the evening we talked about things we can control and not control
F. No dinner after as Pieter had a dental appointment.
G. Hotel plays the same Balinese flute tune from 7 am to 10 pm. Exotic the first day, annoying the second.
A. Met with Pieter and Marlen in the morning. We finished off lessons on money and business practices. I wanted to encourage Pieter and Marlen to learn to dig into their Bibles when studying, so we stared lessons on Hebrew poetry
B. On the way to the shop for the afternoon study, I tried yet another street. I found out that people will worship just about anything. I found a shrine with the Harley-Davidson logo done in mosaic.
C. We continued the lessons on Hebrew poetry in the afternoon.
D. After class I walked south along the boardwalk for the beach
E. I also noticed there is no fourth floor in the hotel. Turns out that 4 is considered unlucky in the region (the word “four” in several Asian languages sounds very similar to “death”).
F. In the evening we discussed how to evangelize the area and talked about the fact that there is no one right way to reach people.
A. Marlen wasn’t feeling well, so I only met with Pieter in the morning. We covered Economic Systems and talked about Pieter’s future plans.
B. Explored to the southeast of the hotel.
C. I realized that walking around Kuta is much like a Nintendo game. You move on different levels. Sometimes the paving tilts unexpectedly. One almost flipped over. Obstacles push you out into the street with the traffic to dodge. Pedestrians don’t have the right-of-way in Indonesia.
D. Finished off Hebrew Poetry in the afternoon at the shop
E. In the evening we talked about avoiding debt
F. Afterward we when to Ultimo Italiano. It was in the north section of Denpasar that attracts the European crowd. The shops are fancier here, though the traffic is just the same.
A. Met only with Pieter at 8 am. We went out to a coffee shop. Covered Proverbs 1-2
B. Pieter took me to the beach. Stopped at McDonalds where Pieter wanted me to do some pictures of two new granola cereals
C. Services from 2-4 Marlen, Pieter, and Marco attended. Class on Proverbs 4. Sermon on Abigail.
D. We walked a beach path all the way to the airport to see the sunset
E. We went out to dinner at Taco Loco. First time they had Mexican food.
1. The driver of our car hit a parked car. Pieter thinks he dozed off. I was shocked that he didn’t stay at the scene. Pieter said he almost hit another car. I couldn’t tell, all the driving is crazy there, but we made sure we took a taxi back.
F. After fetching my suitcase, I was dropped off at the airport about 10 pm. I flew out at 1:25 am on Monday. After 23 hours of sitting in planes, I arrived home at 5:30 pm on Monday.
A. From Marlen, “Mr. Jeffrey, Thank you for your visit. I am so blessed to be able to meet and study the Bible with you. Thanks for the encouragement. I pray that you can have a safe travel to home and be reunited with your beloved family. Please take care.”
B. From Pieter, “Hi Mr. Jeffrey, Hopefully you arrived safely back to your home. Thank you for coming. At the time that I need it very much. Now I have confidence. Now only one way / option for me, I need to walk with God.”
C. Matthew 28:19-20 - It isn’t just about baptizing. Teaching is also needed
D. Consider what Paul did - Acts 14:21-22; 15:41; 18:23
E. Too often I hear of preachers anxious to make converts in remote areas, but few spend the time to get congregations established and functioning.