In October, I spent 10 days visiting Indonesia and Singapore. The purpose of that trip was to meet clergy in the diocese of Singapore, especially its deanery of Indonesia. Chief among these is the Rev. Dr. Timothy Chong, who is the dean of Indonesia, and has been tasked with setting up a seminary to train clergy there. My visit was a first step toward discerning whether the Lord may be calling our family to join in this work.
Dean Chong picked me up from the airport in Jakarta, put me up in hotels for nine nights, fed me royally in his own home and in restaurants, introduced me to his colleagues and parishioners, and showed me the greatest kindness and hospitality. It was a pleasure to talk with him, especially about the future of the Anglican church in Indonesia (Gereja Anglikan Indonesia, or GAI). We shared our views of the goals and methods of seminary education. Teaching Greek and biblical studies is my passion as a missionary, and the work of equipping pastors in the GAI would be a very exciting and fulfilling calling.
Being in Anglican circles meant dressing as an Anglican clergyman for a few days. (I do not generally wear clericals in the Philippines.) My fellow SAMS missionary, Gregory Whitaker, was the other American present at the consecration service in Singapore. I observed that he was the only priest wearing a black shirt, and I was the only one wearing a round collar.
By contrast, I was impressed by the beautiful batik clergy shirts that Dean Timothy Chong was wearing:
Dr. Chong took me to visit GAI churches in Jakarta and Bandung, plus a service of Holy Communion at a medium-security prison. The language barrier was a frustration, of course — I did not have a chance to acquire even the most basic Bahasa Indonesia before my visit — but a cheerful welcome and warm hospitality was the unfailing experience. (I’ll be sure to put some time into language study before my trip next June.) Here’s the bright purple hand-stamp we each received on entering. Mine stayed with me for five days!
At St. Paul’s Bible College in Bandung, I sat in on an Old Testament class and saw some lively student interaction with Dr. Gideon Limandibrata.
Hosting me for meals in Bandung and Singapore was the Rev. Yopie Buyung, also of St. Paul’s Bible College, who engaged me in a spirited discussion of whether we ought to see any Greek philosophy behind the Logos of John 1:1.
From Bandung, we went to Singapore for the consecration of two new assistant Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Kuan Kim Seng and the Rt. Rev. Low Jee King. I vested and processed with the other clergy. St. Andrew’s Cathedral is a most impressive structure. I imagine it was one of the tallest structures in Singapore when it was first built. It now occupies a serene area in the middle of bustling skyscrapers.
Please pray for the Diocese of Singapore and for the GAI, both for its present ministers and its future. There is immense potential for the gospel to be proclaimed and embodied in Indonesia.
Closing photo: the Prayer Book of the GAI, translated by a committee headed by Dean Timothy Chong.