Indonesia Harvest Church overcame great odds to become the beacon of light it is today.
Contributed By Lee Wei Fang
In the book of Zechariah, a word of encouragement came to the afflicted prophet Zerubbabel. “Do not despise the days of small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin … ” This verse could well apply to Indonesia Harvest Church, a growing church led by Pastors Johnny and Tina Seragih.
Seragih graduated from City Harvest Bible Training Center (now the School of Theology) in 1996. Upon his return to Indonesia, he assumed the position of senior pastor of Bukit Doa Church, a church founded by his father, the late Stefanus Seragih. Unfortunately, when Stefanus passed away, the church membership decreased by nearly 90 percent. Left with a small congregation of just 25 people, this was truly a “small beginning” for Seragih.
“When I returned to lead as the senior pastor, a large portion of the congregation refused to accept me as their leader, labeling me too young and inexperienced,” the pastor recalls. “However, the fire of God that burned in me was not one that could be easily quenched by man’s opinion. Through the time I spent in CHBTC, I had become even more excited and determined to serve God.”
Hence, with encouragement from Kong Hee, the senior pastor of City Harvest Church in Singapore, coupled with the assurance that he would have CHC’s practical guidance and support, Seragih pushed aside all negativity and focused his energies on building a strong local church. He formed cell groups, initiated prayer meetings and built up the foundation of the church from scratch.
Indonesia Harvest Church, as it came to be known, became an affiliate of CHC in 2001. Now a decade later, the church has grown to its current size of 700 members, made up of mostly youth and young adults. Its members attend three churches in different locations: Harvest Medan, Harvest Bukit Doa and Harvest Binjai.
LOVING PEOPLE, SERVING PEOPLE
IHC is a church that walks the talk. The church boasts a wide range of ministries, catering to a broad spectrum of people.
In its children’s church, kids of different age groups are grouped into classes and taught praise and worship, as well as for the study of the Word. While the children are engaged through sports and games, their parents receive support and help, including assistance with school fees. Many parents have been integrated because their children are in church.
Bukit Doa Harvest Mission School was opened on August 4, 2003 with only nine students. The aim of this live-in school is to train and equip students to become full-time church workers and leaders in Bukit Doa through a 10-month course. The class curriculum involves practical outreaches to the different ministries of IHC.
The church looks after its members’ growth inside and out. There are five praying “caves” owned by the church, for those who want to pray privately. The caves are also used for counseling, prayer and fasting. They provide a physical “altar” where believers go and often encounter God.
IHC also has its own library, to provide a resource for members to increase their knowledge. Says Seragih, “People from all over the world have contributed to the hundreds of books we now have in our library. We are now praying for God to provide us with computers, tables and other office supplies so that our members can pick up basic IT skills.”
Beyond its own walls, the church provides a valuable service to its community through the Bukit Doa Harvest Rehabilitation Center. It was started by Seragih’s father Stefanus in 1983. He had received a vision from God to build this center, and sold all his chickens and cattle, as well as land, to raise money for the ministry. There was a great need in the community. Mentally-ill patients kept turning up at BDHRC for help, but often, there was insufficient space to house them. As a result, the families of these mentally-ill individuals started donating money to build a larger facility.
Despite its good works, the center came against detractors who accused Stefanus of black magic. However, the work of God could not be stopped. To date, there have been approximately over 1,000 people who have been healed by the power of God through this ministry.
Through its good track record, BDHRC has been well-received by the social department of the Government of Indonesia. Success stories include those who have returned to work, and others to their studies, with a few even enrolling in Bible school. “As such,” says Seragih, “people know our church as one that operates through the healing power of God.”
Being firm believers of the healing power of God, Seragih and his team hold healing services regularly as well. He says, “We believe in the power of prayer according to James 5, and we have seen many miraculous instances of healing take place during these services. Through our rehabilitation center, we have managed to impact society. People with sickness come to us, and as we pray, care for and counsel them, they receive healing!”
In the years to come, Seragih hopes to be able to grow the congregation to 1,000 members. He adds, “We hope to be able to have a permanent building for our church in Medan, as we have been renting worship venues and moving from place to place for many years. Furthermore, we are also looking for land to expand the children’s ministry in Bukit Doa.”
Doubtless, IHC will continue to grow and shine for many years to come, proving that small beginnings can be the start of something great.