By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
FLORES, Indonesia – This month, a small group of Hispanic pastors will board a plane from Louisiana and head across several oceans to share the Gospel with Indonesians using an English-speaking interpreter.
Using Spanish speakers to reach this country might seem unusual, but it is a perfect approach to winning souls among this mainly Muslim population, according to trip organizer Carlos Schmidt.
“Indonesians accept Hispanics easier than Anglo people,” said Schmidt, Hispanic church planting strategist for Louisiana Baptists. “Even though the cultures are miles apart, they have similarities such as being very family oriented and having a unique colorfulness of the culture.”
This is the third year Louisiana Baptist Hispanic pastors and church members have taken a trip to Indonesia, a country located in southeast Asia.
The primary mission of the team is to assist the ministry of an English-speaking Christian couple, who live there and are trying to reach their people group for Jesus.
During the first trip in 2014, the team worked through a small English-speaking grade school to share the Gospel in one town.
When the team returned to the country last year, they built relationships with an unreached people group in a mountainous small village, after making contact with village elders, while working with children at a school nearby.
This year, the group will help lead a Vacation Bible School there, working alongside the English-speaking couple they first worked with in 2014.
In the future, the team hopes to help with a construction project to build a water well in the area. The majority of people there do not have access to clean drinking water.
Another long-range goal is to plant a church there, as the area has no evangelical church.
“Our hope is a church planting movement begins, not necessarily in a building with a steeple but in homes through the people,” Schmidt said. “You are not allowed to start a new church there like you would here. It would have to be something that is born with the people and they spread it from village to village.”
Though the work in Indonesia is still relatively new, Schmidt said their work there already is bearing fruit: Last year a girl there accepted Christ and was baptized.
Schmidt said despite the heavy influence of Islam in the missions area, people are friendly and are open to hearing the Gospel. He said some claim to know about Jesus, but do not fully understand why he came to earth.
“People might have a picture of Jesus in their home but their lives have never changed,” Schmidt said. “It’s a matter of teaching them the true Gospel.”
This year a team of four will leave May 19 and return June 2, and he is asking Louisiana Baptists to pray they may find indigenous believers to begin Bible study and who might be leaders to continue the work.
“Everyone who has gone is committed to go again and to continue the long-term partnership with the people group until something is established,” Schmidt said. “At that point, it can continue moving on its own without us going there several times a year.”