Lifestyles of reconciliation

James Kerber is four years into a five-year double degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Passionate about youth ministry, James joined his father, Rev Paul Kerber, for a week in North Sumatra, Indonesia, teaching on lifestyles of reconciliation with people from our Lutheran overseas partner churches. Pastor Kerber is the LCA Assistant to the Bishop, Reconciliation Ministry.

He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’ (Mark 16:15).

In August this year, my father and I had the opportunity to share the gospel with young people in Indonesia. The one-week conference centred on the gospel and God’s ministry of reconciliation. It was an amazing experience to witness that, even across languages and cultures, Christ’s forgiveness brings peace and healing!

Monday saw us learn much about the Indonesian and Batak cultures, in particular, their understanding of the gospel and customs for dealing with conflict. The young people were very aware of their own culture, including the existence of conflict in some circumstances. It was encouraging that they also saw the need for biblical peacemaking in their own lives first.

The class was deep in discussion, Scripture and role plays through the following days. There were many ‘ah-ha’ moments when clarity of the Scriptures brought new understanding of their identity in Christ and of God’s gift of living in confession and forgiveness with others. Every such moment was met with enthusiasm and celebration.

We saw a wonderful transformation as the young people grew deeper in their understanding and appreciation of the gospel. The teaching drew on their context for practical examples. As a result, we saw a dynamic shift in thinking. The youth increasingly realised that God’s word speaks within conflict to convict and to comfort. This was a change from resolving conflict by human strength, to reconciling through God’s word.

As the conference drew to a close on Friday, we spoke about the next step—the future. This included further training to enable the youth to teach biblical peacemaking within their own churches. Additionally, a website to connect youth across different countries was suggested. This would help the young people to support and build each other up in the gospel.

What a marvellous journey we had with them! Although we were with them for only a brief time, God was fast at work in their hearts. Where the gospel is proclaimed, hearts become ablaze. It will be exciting to see how God continues to work reconciling grace through his new ambassadors in Indonesia. Praise the Lord!

This story was also published in the November 2015 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

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