Exercising good stewardship is one of the things a believer needs in life to be successful. Jeffrey Rachmat, senior pastor of Jakarta Praise Community Church tells us how recognising seasons and trusting God comes into play in stewardship.
He was 17 when he first met Jesus and received Him as his Lord and Saviour. The teenager was studying in the Netherlands when he encountered God and was filled with the Holy Spirit. There, God called him to minister His Word, and he took his first step into ministry.
Today, Jeffrey Rachmat leads Jakarta Praise Community Church, a vibrant and thriving church in Indonesia. Pastor Jeffrey visited City Harvest Church on the last weekend of February, where he delivered an important message on being a good steward.
He tells City News that, while in school in the Netherlands, he started a small fellowship group among Indonesian students which eventually spread beyond the university where he was studying. However, he was not able to finish his studies and returned to Indonesia to work in a bank.
He continued serving the Lord while he worked, but after five years, he heard God calling him again. He left the bank thinking that he would serve God as an itinerant minister but God had other plans for him. Pastor Jeffrey started a fellowship group among his friends and it quickly grew to 700 people.
In the midst of that, the Lord told Pastor Jeffrey to start a church. “I didn’t want to at all,” he admits truthfully. “I wanted to be an itinerant minister because I don’t like to stay in one place and it’s hard to be a pastor. So, it took me almost a year to say yes.”
He started JPCC with a team of more than 60 people on the 4th of July 1999. After 24 years of stewarding the church, it has grown significantly and today, the church has three worship locations in the capital of Indonesia.
City News: Your message about working and keeping what God has given to us is an important reminder for us. You said that we will lose what we cannot manage. What would you say to those who now realise they are not managing certain areas in their lives and are overwhelmed?
Jeffrey Rachmat: Well, first you need to realise that without good management, you will lose what you have—so coming to that realisation is very important, that’s the first step. The second step is you need to study and understand what areas you are lacking in, and then start to learn about [how to make up for that lack].
I didn’t have the time to go deeper into the parable [during the service], but in the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30) the master told the servant that if he could not manage the talents, he should have given it to another person who can manage it well. That was a piece of good advice: if you’re not good in one area, and you don’t have the time to focus your energy on it, look for a friend who can do it for you.
Not all of us are good at managing our money, for example, but I’m sure that you have friends that can help you, at least by giving you good advice. Just be humble and admit your weaknesses, because there’s no way we are good in every area—we have our strengths and weaknesses. You just need to be able to admit your weakness and get someone to help you.
You also preached about a time to scatter seeds and a time to sleep so that God can work. Some people sleep too much while others can’t stop scattering seeds. Are there any disciplines we can follow to keep that balance?
The parable that I mentioned last night (25 Feb) is very crucial to the way we live our lives. Jesus said during the day you need to scatter seeds (Mk 4:26-27). Daytime is the time when we wake up. The sun is shining, and we can see clearly. Mostly, we don’t stumble during the day. We can see far.
You need to make use of your daytime to scatter seeds. It can be in the form of love, words or money. Like what CHC is doing with its charity work, scattering seeds in the city.
Because there will be a time when darkness slips in—it’s not your fault, that’s just the way the earth functions. Genesis 8:22 tells us, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” So, when the night comes, it’s not your fault. Most of us think that when we entered the night season of our lives, it’s because we did something wrong. It’s not. What you understand in the natural will happen in the spiritual. In the natural, we don’t panic when the day turns into night, but in the spiritual world, we panic.
When night comes, usually you cannot see far. You can only see a short distance and sometimes you stumble. Then you cry out to God, “Why this is happening? Why don’t You speak to me?” and all of that. But if you understand how God works, the night is the time for you to rest. And while you rest, He will be working for you.
But your sleep does not do you any good if you did not scatter seeds during the day. If you’re at the peak of your performance, you’re getting promotions at work, that is your daytime—don’t forget to scatter seeds. Don’t eat all your blessing by yourself, scatter some seeds because there will be a time when night comes and we have to go to sleep because it is the time for him for God to work, to grow your seeds.
Growth comes from God. Parents never need to pray for God to grow their kids. In fact, sometimes they pray, “God, don’t let them grow so fast.” (laughs) Growth happens naturally but you need to do what you can do, and God will do what you cannot do.
You also talked about God being silent while Adam worked. While God has already equipped us to do what He called us to do, sometimes that silence is scary: we work but we don’t know if we’re going in the right direction. How do we get past that fear?
We seem to misunderstand the silence. The best way to put it is to imagine your dad. Our dads only speak what is necessary, [they are] different from our moms. I always think this: if He is not speaking, it means that I should do what I need to do. He will definitely correct me and speak if I am doing something that He thinks is not what I should do.
Imagine a dad with kids playing at the playground—he would just watch the kids having fun. But if the kid wants to cross over to the other street, then the dad—with his voice loud enough for the kid to hear—will make sure that the kid understands that it’s not the direction he’s supposed to go. If we as natural dads will do that, God will surely do that too.
We have to understand that when God is silent, it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t approve. His silence, I reckon, means we are doing the thing that we need to do. We need to learn to trust Him and to trust in the ability that He has given us. That’s why we need to know God’s character and learn about His silence. But I can assure you his silence doesn’t necessarily mean that he is mad at us—He loves us so much.
I often say He is your dad, not your mom (laughs). We tend to interpret being intimate with God as asking Him for every detail in our lives. When we are still a child in the faith, it is good, but we need to grow up. It depends on the season of your life. He will speak more to you when you’re still a child. But when you grow up, it will be different.
So, it’s also about recognising seasons? Recognizing the day and the night, the season when God will speak more, and the season God would not?
Yes. And the Bible says in everything there’s a season and everything is always beautiful in its season.
Today, JPCC is one of the most well-known churches in Indonesia and it just started its third branch in 2021, in the midst of Covid.
This is all by the grace of God. When I look at the way God works, I’m just amazed. I don’t take any credit for it. It’s all God.
When we first started, God told me not to take an offering. Well, we have never taken an offering from the get-go until today. That’s why I told you that it is only by the grace of God. Now I can easily say that God spoke to me, but back then, it was tough. I didn’t have anyone who supported me financially. I had just gotten married and my first child, my son, was only for three months or four months when we held the first service. But God is always faithful: if He gives you the vision, the provision is always available. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need faith, you need to have faith. Up until now, I pray every Sunday for God to provide. But we never encountered any lack. We built our last two buildings without raising any funds.
Would you say that it is your personal testimony of being a good steward?
Well, you will lose it if you cannot manage it—that’s what I have found. I preached this message because I need to learn, I need to study, and I need to make it my walk and not just my talk.
I think now is the time for me to teach it because someone once told me that if you want to be successful in life, learn about these three things: leadership, relationship and stewardship. Since that moment, I have wanted to learn about all these three things. But then I found out that leadership and relationship are taught very often, yet stewardship is the least taught. That’s why I felt like it’s my time to fill the gap.