When it was suggested in 2017 that there could be a short-term mission trip to Indonesia in 2018, it immediately stirred an interest within us. There were several reasons for this interest. We have regularly supported national church planters through GLO for quite a few years, and we thought that this would be a good opportunity to meet and encourage some of the workers. We had met Miss Merro, Principal of Worldbridge Language Centre in Malang, when she was at the GLO Family and Friends conference in 2017, and she had encouraged us to visit. Sri Les Tari, who was a student at CrossConnect during our short stint as House Parents in 2017, was another person we knew we would love to see — in her own context.
But a question entered our minds. “Would there be something useful that a couple, now 70 years of age, could do, rather than being mere spectators?” When we sought advice from Andrew Cowell (GLO Co-director) and James Lee (Team Leader), they both assured us that an older mature couple would be most welcome to join the team.
So, it was with considerable excitement, anticipation and some trepidation that we joined five others from Australia for the mission trip, knowing that our Lord would go before us and be with us as we ventured on our first visit to Indonesia.
The main highlight of our trip was the weekend residential English Camp for 30 university students. We were both ‘Instructors’ in English with six or seven students, together with a teacher from WBLC, over four sessions. The theme was ‘Who is your SuperHero?’, and this allowed us to share the way of salvation using the ‘wordless’ book. Students were very attentive, and some recorded the message of the ‘wordless’ book on their phones. At the conclusion of camp, students gave us written messages of appreciation. Here are just three of the 22 received:
1) “Dear Mr Malcolm and Mrs Dorothy. I really like you Mr Malcolm and Mrs Dorothy. You are the best teacher which I ever have. With you I feel comfort, both of you. You can tell me story which I never know. I already make you be my Grandma and Grandpa.”
2) “Your kindness engraved in my heart. You’re my superhero. I learn many things from you. I hope we can meet again.”
3) “Mr Malcolm and Mrs Dorothy. You both so lovely, nice, great people for me. You are nice couple I ever look. First, I wanna say thank you so much to Mrs Dorothy as my English discussion leader. I learn many things from you and God bless me to meet you. Hope another time I can meet you again and come to Tasmania. And Mr Malcolm thank you for everything you do in this event.”
(This young lady has become a good friend and we remain in regular contact with her. Miss Merro has shared the gospel with her individually at least three times and we pray for her salvation regularly.)
Needless to say, these many messages were such an encouragement to us and a call to constant prayer for these dear young people.
A special part of the camp for us was to meet a young Muslim lady (S) who was invited by Miss Merro to the camp at very short notice. S could only attend part of the camp as she had another appointment on the Saturday night. Her attendance was clearly a divine appointment. She was in Dorothy’s English group for two sessions. On the Saturday morning before breakfast, another leader was speaking to S about the Lord and asked us to join and help her answer the questions S had — she didn’t really know who she was praying to and didn’t even know if her ‘good works would get her to heaven’.
We sat down with S and shared the love of God through Jesus Christ and the salvation that he now offers because of Calvary. Several other young Muslims joined us as we
shared our faith. Such was the interest that we were oblivious to the fact that all the rest of the campers had almost finished breakfast.
S wanted some of the camp leaders to share the ‘Bridge to Life’ illustration with her before she had to leave later that afternoon. She left in tears as she didn’t really want to leave us. We exchanged contact details, and our last words to her were “S, we may not see you again on this earth, but we sure want to see you in heaven one day and will pray for you.”
We were convinced that God was speaking to this young lady and that she would truly come to faith in the Lord Jesus. On return to Australia, we shared this confidence with many Christians, so many were praying for her. At about 11.00pm Christmas day we received an email from S telling us that she had trusted the Lord as her personal Saviour and was going to tell her family and be baptised as soon as convenient. What a time of rejoicing!
We were just ‘a small link in a chain’ leading to her conversion. She now has regular studies with Miss Merro and others and is growing in Christ. We are in regular contact and seek to encourage her in the Lord. She is studying languages and linguistics at university so we believe that God has a great plan for her life. Throughout her time at university, she has boarded with a missionary couple who live near Miss Merro — another link in the chain! This is all God’s doing and it is marvellous in our eyes.
All in all, it was one of the greatest weekends in our lives, one where we knew the presence of the Lord among us in answer to many prayers.
So, did we have a worthwhile role to play? We believe a resounding YES. We basically acted as grandparents and encouragers. We in turn were abundantly blessed and encouraged. Our prayer interest has been extended and many added to our prayer list for spiritual growth and salvation.
Would we go on a Short-Term Mission trip again? A definite yes, if God wills and health permits. Our spiritual horizons have been expanded since retiring from secular employment. God has blessed us abundantly and we want to use the rest of our time wisely for His Kingdom as ‘time is short’.
We want to challenge all believers, whether young, middle-aged or retirees, to be involved in mission and allow God to direct you into new avenues of service for His Glory.
Encounter (Short-term Mission trips) can be a life-changing experience.
If God calls you, GO FOR IT!
By Malcolm & Dorothy Arnold