Ari Wibowo is a household name in Indonesia, and the man is also widely recognized as the most “gorgeous” man in the country. On the weekend of 29 to 30 August 2009, the multiple award-winning model/actor paid a visit to City Harvest Church (CHC) to share a remarkable testimony of God’s grace in his life. Traveling around the world to share with Indonesian communities in various countries including the United States, this was the first time Wibowo has shared his testimony in English.
Born Arianto Wibowo in 1970, to an Indonesian father and German mother, he has more than 20 years of experience in entertainment industry under his belt. From catwalk, to photography model, drama serials, film, and even a short foray into music, the versatile star has practically done it all.
Wibowo’s family lived in Germany up to the time when he was 10, wherein he made his first visit to a Catholic church, and there, had his very first encounter with God. That experience of peace and having his burdens lifted impacted him and showed him the reality of God. He became a believer from that day.
It was in Indonesia where the land of open doors lay, as his father moved the family due to business opportunities. This was when Wibowo’s elder sister first stepped into the world of modeling. On one occasion when Wibowo went to pick his sister up from the dance studio, the tall 17-year-old was talent-spotted for catwalk modeling, and the rest was history.
Wibowo’s first movie role was the main lead, Valentino, in the highly popular film Valentine (1989).
“I was very blessed, that as a relatively unknown actor, I had the opportunity of starring in a major role and also rubbing shoulders with already popular fellow cast members. This further increased my exposure,” said Wibowo of his maiden film which still enjoys screening every year in Indonesia on Valentine’s Day.
“Thankfully, the road to stardom for me was step by step. I didn’t skyrocket to fame, so it was easy for me to adjust over time and not let success get to my head.”
Now in his late 30s and married with two young sons, Wibowo is very selective about the films he does. He wants to bear a good testimony of the kind of values he wants to promote.
“I used to be very involved in action movies, but after realizing that what I did contradicted the values in the Bible, that is, the promotion of violence instead of peace against our enemies, I switched to love related films,” he said.
That certainly has not stopped his steady stream of Best Actor Award wins, among many others. But Wibowo keeps his feet firmly planted on the ground.
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He said, “It was God’s grace and protection that preserved me from not one, but three car accidents, resulting in complete wreckage. As a result of this, I always remind myself to remember God’s hand upon my life.”
It was not always smooth-sailing for the talented thespian. “At the peak of my career, I felt emptiness. I tried to fill it with all kinds of bad habits, such as drinking and drugs, but nothing worked. It was only when I thought back to that time when I was 10, and I remembered the peace of God, that I yearned for it again. That was when I would return to church.”
Wibowo struggled between leaving his old lifestyle and returning to God’s way fully, until a fateful night when God spoke to him a word which greatly convicted him, and changed his attitude forever. Since then, he has been sharing his testimony all over the world, impacting many.
If the actor had to give a piece of advice to aspiring young artists, it would be to always stay humble. “Don’t let the world get to your head, and always remember your roots. People always value humility and will respect you for it.”
He is not worried about his future, instead, preparing himself for whatsoever may come by reading the Bible more and equipping himself with the Word of God. One thing Wibowo would like to see is a more open Indonesia.
“I wish for the continuing freedom for people to attend church, and for any religion to be preached freely in peace. For this to happen, it will require a lot of patience, understanding and open-mindedness from everyone to continue in Indonesia.”
In the meantime, Wibowo is content to enjoy life with its daily joys. “As long as I experience happiness, which to me is being able to feel fulfilled with a life of peace and godly contentment, that, to me, is daily success.”