Dr. Mark Fulmer introduced this special Sunday school class (11/6/11) by calling our attention to how counseling is being used as an instrument of evangelism. In the past, counseling was seldom considered as a tool for work in missions. But in Indonesia, Jeff White and Lee Jagers have been working with Iwan Sulistyawan (a church planter) to do exactly this.
Pastor Iwan explained how he uses radio broadcasts to inform local villagers about principles to make life better. He noted that radio is used not for entertainment, as in the USA, but for information and to bring the people in for discussion. Is he effective? Let the fruit of his labors answer that question: 1,300 churches established in the last 9 years, 6 counseling centers (Hope Centers) established in the past 5 years, 47 radio stations, and 16 orphanages. All helping people live better lives.
Is it hard to do this in this predominantly Muslim/Hindu environment? Not the way Iwan does it. He explains that the radio sets the stage. He may use an antenna tied to a mango tree to broadcast 20 yards so he is not too intrusive. He gives hand crank radios to the villagers, one to a family, fixed on that one frequency. The people so appreciate the helpful insights for living life better that they respond with their personal questions. They are then referred to a local counselor who can get more personal. As they question the motivation of the counselor, they hear about the love of Christ that is available to all of them. When this leads to a testimony, a response, then a small group is formed. The small group often gradually grows into an established local group with the encouragement of the local Imam because so many lives are changed for the better.
Is it dangerous? Iwan says that often the local Imam is so appreciative of the social contribution of these “lessons” that often he is willing to support the establishment of a local church. In some of the more radical Muslim areas, he remains less public. To see more, check out their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7xWUxBqic0.
Jeff White and Dr. Jagers are working on plans to send counselors and students to Indonesia each summer to help with the training of workers in the islands. Hope for the Heart (in Plano, Texas) supplies pamphlets on 100 counseling topics already translated into Indonesian. Our prayer support will greatly encourage and empower the multiplication of churches throughout the 17,000 islands of Indonesia.