Where There Is No Pastor

Written by Ruedi Giezendanner

How many pastors does your church have? It is easy to take for granted those who support our spiritual growth; however, across much of the Asian world, this question is often asked in the reverse, i.e., how many churches does a pastor have?

During a visit to a region in Indonesia, my wife, Jenny, and I experienced that in a few of the larger towns, some churches had teams of pastors. But surrounding these towns were large isolated areas where few rarely venture to go, and one pastor can be responsible for as many as ten churches. It is possible on a good day that such a pastor will manage to visit two or three churches over a weekend; but for many believers, weeks may pass before they see their pastor again.

While the pastor is busy elsewhere, the lay leaders of these isolated churches are responsible for continuing services and the spiritual growth of members in their communities. Church elders are asked to share a message on Sunday morning or to lead a Bible study while mothers in these remote villages would like to teach their kids Sunday school. Very little training is given for their roles, and only a few resource materials are available with most of them written in the national language, which few understand well. They lack what some of our Indonesians friends mentioned and when Jenny asked them what they needed most, the response was, “Books and confidence.”

OneBook is resourcing the Patip* project in Indonesia, and our local Indonesian partner organization is working with the local communities to translate the Bible into three languages, as well as assisting these isolated churches with exactly what they need. In each language, they are also creating a set of about 50 Scripture selections and study guides for an overview of the Scriptures from beginning to end. One of their staff explained to us, “Before I started working on this team, all the Bible stories I had heard just made a helter-skelter jumble in my head. Now I can see how it all fits together.”

The team is also working on sets of simple Sunday school lessons in each language that teach the children basic reading skills as well as Bible stories. The kids love the activities that go with these lessons, and the teachers are excited about the well-designed lessons.

What a privilege it is for us to know these friends and to have a little part in their ministry of building God’s Kingdom on earth in these remote areas!
Please, will you join us in praying for the Patip project? And in praying for the many isolated churches and lay leader who are in such great need of the Bible study and Sunday School materials, which our partners in Indonesia are preparing?

*OneBook is facilitating the resources for the Patip project for the Laman, Lewun, and Lowu people groups.