Forgiveness Opens Doors to Peace among Believers

Editor’s Note: John and Janine Schultz—Alliance pioneer missionaries to the jungles of Irian Jaya (now Papua), Indonesia—saw entire villages turn to Christ among tribal people whose lives had been consumed with appeasing evil spirits. The couple’s work is chronicled in their book Stone Age Diary: The Story of John and Janine Schultz.

 In August 2009, John was invited to speak at a church conference in the same village where the couple had begun their missionary career 60 years earlier. The purpose of their return visit was to ease increasing tensions that had developed between two groups of believers. The following is a chronology of what has transpired since.      

DATELINE: PAPUA, Indonesia, October 27, 2009 – A C&MA national church conference was met by an angry mob threatening to kill Alliance workers and church members who had arrived by plane for the event. When the pilot opened the door of the cockpit, one man tried to pull him out of the plane.

 The attack occurred as a result of tensions between the Gospel Tabernacle [the C&MA national church, or GKII] and a group that had officially separated from the GKII. “The breakaway group, [known as the GKIP], had seriously departed from the gospel message and proclaimed to be the real fruit of Alliance missionary efforts in the region,” said retired C&MA international worker John Schultz.

Days before the conference, representatives of the GKIP had descended upon the church building where the event was to take place, setting it on fire-along with the district office and the home of one of the pastors. The conference was rescheduled and moved to another location.

A Harrowing Confrontation

On the day of the conference, the Schultzes boarded a Mission Aviation Fellowship plane, along with several Alliance workers and national church leaders who had been invited to attend. “We had been told that it would be safe for us to come and that the local police would guarantee our safety,” said John.

“As we landed on the airfield, we were immediately surrounded by a large crowd of several hundred people, most of whom obviously belonged to the split group. A smaller group, belonging to the Gospel Tabernacle, was spread out among them. Before the door of the airplane could be opened, the opposition shouted and gesticulated angrily that they did not want us to disembark-that we should go home and leave them alone.

 “Policemen moved among the crowd but [were unable] to disperse the angry demonstrators. We were told that if we came out, they would burn the airplane. After some deliberation and prayer, it was decided that getting out [of the plane] and having the conference was not an option. The pilot felt that we had no choice but to depart-a sentiment we all shared.”

But there was no possibility of starting the plane’s propeller while the demonstrators were still milling around. “They did not want us to disembark, but they made it impossible to start the engine and leave,” said John. It was not until armed military personnel arrived on the scene that the crowd began to disperse.

Wanted: Prayer Warriors

“As the plane became airborne, the tragedy began to have its full impact upon me,” John said. “I shed tears before the Lord, wondering why He had brought [Janine and me] halfway around the world only to witness this scene. Then I understood that He wanted us to see how bad the situation was. Through this experience, God called us to intensify our intercessory prayer for Papua, the land of Indonesia, and all other areas where the national church has been left [to carry on ministry] after the founding missionaries have departed from the field.”

DATELINE: Interior Highlands, Indonesia, January 1, 2010 – “The church split was taken to a new level of conflict earlier this year,” Alliance worker Barry Jordan reported in his weekly prayer update. “A GKII group from the interior highlands meeting in a kindergarten for a New Year’s service was confronted by a dilemma. Fire started to consume the building where they were meeting. The group that started the blaze was waiting to [attack] those who ran out to safety.”

A Cry for Restoration

Thankfully, no one died in the fire, but all who escaped were beaten on their way out of the building. “Please pray for our divided church,” wrote Barry. “Pray for the pastor and congregation to respond and live ‘Christ’s way.’ Pray that in their investigation, the police will respond justly, bringing peace and [reconciliation] between brothers.”

DATELINE: February 11, 2010 – “Thank you for praying for a resolution to the church problem in Indonesia,” wrote Barry Jordan. “After the GKIP (the split-off group) burned a building where GKII (C&MA) people were worshipping, six church leaders from the GKIP were put in jail.”

On February 11, during a meeting between the two church groups with police and government officials, the GKII forgave the GKIP leaders for their actions. A letter was signed by GKIP leaders agreeing not to harass the GKII anymore. “Oh, the power of forgiveness!” wrote Barry. “There was much rejoicing. Thank you for praying for our church leaders and for unity [in the Body of Christ]. Although we are still feeling the heat of spiritual warfare, we know God has already won the victory on the cross.

“THANK GOD for these steps toward unity. Please continue to pray for church leaders and for us-for humble hearts that seek God and the honor of His Name.”

“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18, King James Version).

What You Can Do

“The peace agreement was only in one geographical location,” Barry Jordan later wrote. “Many other areas of the country still have hostility.” Please continue to intercede for this situation, asking the Lord Jesus to bring lasting peace among the Body of believers throughout Indonesia.




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