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Seminary grad returns to Indonesia determined to reach country for God

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–With the current turmoil in Indonesia, which includes worsening persecution of Christians, it would be hard to blame Victor Rembeth if he never returned home.

Rembeth has not only returned to his native land, but in his current ministry position, intends to work to help heal the situation.

When Rembeth earned his degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1995, the Indonesian national admits that he was tempted to stay in the United States.

“We know we are here to get the training, but it is quite easy to think about staying here,” Rembeth said. “But it’s the people of Indonesia that we want to go back and reach for Christ.”

After graduating, Rembeth took a pastorate at a Baptist church in Indonesia. And soon, other ministry positions awaited him, ones that are allowing him to reach greater numbers of Asians.

Rembeth is now serving as general secretary of the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches. He’s the youngest person ever to be elected to the post.

“I direct the day-to-day matters of the union,” Rembeth said. “It’s a job very similar to the one done by a state director or an associational director of missions.”

“We have a target of 20,000 new baptisms, 100 news churches, and we want to adopt 10 unreached people groups,” Rembeth said.

Rembeth also has to address the needs of training Indonesian nationals to carry the gospel around Indonesia. He said that’s important because restrictions on missionary activity have recently tightened in Indonesia.

“We cannot depend on missionaries all the time,” Rembeth said. “God has opened my eyes in seeing the great needs of evangelism and discipleship among Indonesians.”

Rembeth said the union faces another challenge in dealing with the volatile relations between Indonesian’s Muslim and Christian populations. Establishing a better relationship will be one of his top priorities.

“This is the right time for Christians to go to the government and voice their concern about their treatment at the hands of the Muslims,” Rembeth stated. “We need the International Peace Corps to come in and monitor relations. Our goal is to work to get them here.”

Rembeth has also been leading the union in relief efforts for victims of a June earthquake in Indonesia.

“The government has actually been impressed with our efforts to help the victims,” Rembeth said. “We were immediately on the scene providing food and medical care. We plan to continue assisting them by helping them rebuild housing.”

Rembeth had to leave his pastoral position after 4 years of service to take the general secretary position. And, that wasn’t an easy choice.

“In fact that was the most difficult decision for both me and my church,” Rembeth said. “It was a heartbreaking time to leave the church. They taught me what a loving New Testament church really is.”

The church saw an increase in numbers during Rembeth’s years of service. The church became the largest donor to the Indonesian cooperative giving program, despite its mid-range membership size. Sunday school attendance doubled and the church opened five missions.

“The church has been doing great since I left,” Rembeth said. “They had about 350 kids for Vacation Bible School. That’s quite a turnout for them.”

Rembeth was also recently appointed president of the Asian Baptist Youth Fellowship. The organization’s goal is to equip Asian youth to become leaders of the church. Rembeth said this position as served as an eye-opener for him to see that Asian churches are in great need of future leaders.

A network of leaders from every Baptist union in Asia has been set up to work with youth leaders from churches. The group travels and speaks to youth groups and their leaders urging them to be faithful witnesses.

“What we do is give these youth leaders all the tools they need to serve in their churches. It’s kind of a leaders equipping leaders thing,” Rembeth said.

While Rembeth admits his two new roles are challenging, he said they have also been rewarding.

“It’s been so great to help churches, people, families and things that are broader than just the typical church setting,” Rembeth said. “I can be a small instrument of God in fulfilling the needs of my people.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: VICTOR REMBETH.

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  • Adam Myrick