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Platt, Greear preach & learn in Indonesia

INDONESIA (BP)–Tears slid down the curve of her brown cheek; her shoulders tensed in emotion. She cried without reservation as a man placed one hand on her head and raised the other. His prayer for her was drowned out by praise music.

From the first pew to the back wall of a seminary auditorium, Indonesian and American Christians closed their eyes, raised their hands and sang praises to God. Southern Baptist pastors David Platt and J.D. Greear stood in the first row, hands lifted with the rest. Greear had just given an invitation to the audience, asking if anyone wanted to know Jesus as their personal Savior.

That night, three people accepted Christ.

The church can reach these unreached peoples with the love and joy of Christ, Platt said, however it will come at great cost. “But in the end, it will be totally worth it.”

In his recently released book, “Radical,” Platt calls for American churches to abandon their inward focus and forgo comforts to share the Gospel with all nations — to sacrifice and go.

Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., preached in churches, seminaries and Baptist conventions in Indonesia in mid-October. J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and eight other Southern Baptist pastors and missions leaders from the United States preached in addition to Platt.

They encouraged local Christians and challenged them to proclaim Christ’s love throughout Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation. The pastors also sought ways their own churches could actively get involved in taking the Gospel to unreached people groups. During this process, they found inspiration from their audiences.

Speaking in stifling hot auditoriums and sanctuaries, the pastors delivered messages about the cost of witnessing and the worth of Jesus Christ.

“Some of you might be called to go to places that are very dangerous or where people may not like you,” Greear said from the pulpit. “My friends, is Jesus enough for you?”

Many listeners already knew the price of the Gospel. One female listener had begun a movement that birthed four generations of believers in a previously unreached village. One man went to jail for the same kind of initiative.

Christian representative Jacob Snow* is encouraging Indonesian believers to do what’s necessary to share the news of Christ. But because of ethnic and cultural divisions among people groups, he said many local congregations — like many American churches — embrace the status quo.

But things have begun to change, he said, noting that local Christians have started to see their neighbors differently — as people God loves and as people with whom they must share their faith.

Because of this, Platt and Greear’s presence made an impact.

“I think the local people are humbled by the fact that Christians from America are willing to come to this island, and they come having a heart for the unreached,” Snow said. “It’s a … reminder to the local believer that the body of Christ is trusted with the Gospel and that baton of faith must be passed to the unreached. They have a right to hear.”

As Platt and Greear spoke in Indonesia, their audiences responded.

Greear still speaks some Indonesian from his stint 12 years ago as a short-term worker there. He used the language he recalled to mingle with audiences, getting ideas for future ministry from Indonesian pastors and finding encouragement through stories of the people God has already used to advance the faith.

One of those stories was Budi Syamsuddin*, a former drug dealer from the island of Java who became a Christian while in prison and has since led 10 people to Christ. Under his training, those 10 people have started a church-planting movement resulting in nearly 700 new believers in five years.

“I began to think what would happen if every follower of Christ was doing what Budi is doing — making disciples,” Platt said. “And, when you make disciples, churches start happening and churches start growing and churches start multiplying. What happens when every follower starts doing that? Then we realize, ‘Wow, together we are a part of a global purpose that has the potential to spread the Gospel to every people group and to every nation.'”

Syamsuddin embodied Platt’s dream for the future of the church. Syamsuddin made his life count by fulfilling Christ’s command to train believers. And those believers followed Christ and trained more in an ongoing process.

“I praise God for Budi, and I pray for a lot of Budis to be raised up in the churches I lead and in churches all across our context and our country,” Platt said.

To reach the lost, he said, people must live out the Gospel. Whether they minister to family and friends in their hometowns or move their businesses 11 time zones to the west, they must live as Christ commanded.
*Names changed. Shiloh Lane is a writer for the International Mission Board. Watch David Platt, pastor and author of the book, “Radical,” as he witnesses what God is doing in one of the world’s most unreached places:

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  • Shiloh Lane