This church in Indonesia faced several challenges and emerges stronger than ever.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF GPDI ELOHIM SIDOARJO
The numbers of Christian followers in Asia have ballooned from 101 million in 1970, to 351 million in 2005, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, based in Washington, D.C. Interestingly, this surge in Christianity is seen not just in Christian nations in Asia, but also in countries where Christians were once a minority group.
TIME magazine reports that Christianity in Indonesia is growing at a remarkable rate, and is now officially the second largest faith in the nation. The populous country saw the birth of hundreds of churches throughout the country. The pluralistic nature of the country, where freedom of religion is practiced, contributed to this growth. Every church planted pushed the Christianity revival a step further.
Under the Pentecostal denomination in Indonesia, GPdI Elohim Sidoarjo is a church with a remarkable story, one prepared to change the face of Christianity in their nation, one person at a time.
Located at Sidoarjo, a city in the East Java province of Indonesia, the church thrives under the leadership of senior pastor Franklin Lumoindong and his wife, Nina. This vibrant church, strong in faith and worship, and growing in strength, is a living testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace.
In 2006, the church entered into a time of tragedy, where the senior pastor of the church at that time, Nina’s brother, and his wife, perished in the Adam air crash at Manado. It was an unexpected crisis, and the church struggled to grapple with the sudden loss of their two main shepherds overnight.
Then the resident teacher in GPdI Bible School at Malang, Lumoindong and his wife were immediately asked to take over the leadership of the church. This was a high call for them, as they were still dealing with the painful loss of two family members, and had no experience whatsoever in pastoring a church. Lumoindong shared, “Both of us knew that we needed to pick ourselves up quickly as the congregation was feeling very discouraged and some had begun to scatter.” It was their dedication and bravery, which were key factors in helping the church move on down the road to recovery.
An adapting period
Former students from Singapore’s School of Theology who were among the congregants stepped forward to render help. They encouraged Lumoindong and his wife to approach senior pastor of City Harvest Church, Kong Hee, for help, which they did. Kong and CHC immediately responded by helping to implement a Bible School curriculum at the church, recognizing the importance of the Word of God to help the church through this period of darkness. Once every few months, CHC sent teams to minister to the congregation and their leaders.
After half a year of hard work, the church moved on out of despair, armed with fresh vision and purpose through the Word of God. One amazing miracle was that the church did not lose a single member throughout this period, but managed to keep all 750 adults. This gave Lumoindong and his wife great encouragement, knowing they were on the right track.
Once the church had been stabilized, Lumoindong and his wife devoted themselves to being discipled in the ministry, desiring to move on to the next level.
Says Lumoindong, “Nina and I knew that the best thing a disciple can do is to follow his teacher.” So in 2007, they spent one year traveling and ministering together with Kong and his team whenever he came to Indonesia. Spending time with them inspired Lumoindong and gave him many new ideas for effective growth and leadership. That year, the church saw a growth of 100 members to an average attendance of 850.
First big day event since the tragedy
In 2008, the church felt ready to launch out and believe for a great revival in the town of Sidoarjo. They decided to organize an outreach event and open it to the entire community. In faith, they targeted to reach at least 2,600 people, praying fervently and working hard at the same time.
Members came together with great excitement to prepare for the event— they decorated the hall and the church, invited Christian Indonesian celebrities to share their testimonies, and the dance team prepared a special item to appeal to the youth. They even specially invited Taiwanese actor-singer Liu Geng Hong to perform for the Chinese community. On top of these entertainment acts, the church bought 4,000 burger meals to bless the new friends. From May 1 to 4, 2008, they opened the church compound for their first ever Big Day (large-scale outreach event). The response was overwhelming—4,876 people came, with 890 decisions made for Christ that day. It was a major breakthrough for the church.
Thereafter, the church began averaging 950 adults. In just 2 years, the church had grown by almost 27 percent.
Moving on to greater things
Besides using the cell group system to integrate new friends, the church started the Young People of Destiny, a youth community with the purpose of reaching out to youths through common interests. Member Trifosa Benyamin explained, “With YPOD, it would be easier to integrate youth friends, as they would have established friendships with other church members within the group.”
Besides evangelizing, the church also blessed the community by providing free medical treatment for the public. Members were actively encouraged to help save lives by donating blood during donation drives held quarterly.
The church took time to appreciate the unsung heroes of the city’s cleaning service, the Yellow Brigade by giving out food parcels to them during the annual Muslim Breakfast Celebrations.
The past two years have seen GPdI Elohim Sidoarjo grow in multiple areas. The creative launch of YPOD, together with an effective cell group system and strong weekend worship services, worked together to win the lost. To date, GPdI Elohim ministers to an average of 1,000 adults and 500 children weekly.
The church’s vision for the next two years is an exciting one—to grow to 2,000 adults and 1,000 children, which is effectively doubling of their current attendance, as well as to build a congregation that is spiritual and strong in evangelism. Given the proven tenacity and faith of this congregation, this goal is certainly not far from attainment.