Long-distance relationship

At a Strategic Planning Workshop in August, 2008, there was a strong feeling that the Spirit of God was leading Horsham’s Holy Trinity church into an overseas mission partnership.

Horsham has a rich history in mission involvement. Even though our region relies heavily on farming and has been through thirteen difficult years, we have much to give. God has blessed us richly in gifts and resources, but they amount to nothing until dedicated to the Lord’s service, exercised for the benefit of others and glorify of God.

Soon after the 2008 Workshop, a team passionate for this mission partnership began meeting regularly to pray. The guidance of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA)’s Glenice Hartwich, was sought. Glenice left our team with four mission opportunities to choose from.

Our team felt led to the Gereja Kristen Protestan Angkola (GKPA) Church of North Sumatra and, with Glenice’s help, we formed a relationship with them.

Almost a year later, three servants of Holy Trinity (who also authored this article) visited our GKPA partners for two weeks. We went to many congregations, agricultural projects, and schools. Our approach was to listen, learn, love and laugh with the people. At the end of each day we met to share a high (there were many) and a low of the day, be led by God’s Word and to pray together.

We admired and loved these people for their commitment to God, seeking to remain faithful to him while living in a Muslim country. This situation brings many disadvantages and hardships as they live and work. However, their joy in the Lord shines through.

Much time was spent in worship and prayer with the people, as well as enjoying Indonesian cuisine. We were truly blessed with generous hospitality and stories. The fellowship we enjoyed always will be treasured by us.

Earlier this year, during the week after Easter, a return visit took place. The Horsham congregation was gifted to host GKPA Bishop Abraham Hutasoit, his wife Rianor Situmorang, Pastor Ramli Harahap and Advendi Dongoran.

Many people hosted meals in their homes or provided hands-on experience of sheep shearing, farming and livestock enterprises. Our guests spoke on ‘The Challenges of Living in a Muslim Society’ and we discussed the possibilities within our ongoing partnership.

Our goal is to encourage each other, such as nurturing the following projects in North Sumatra… Teaching English and, possibly, First Aid and sewing – Agricultural training and workshops – Assisting poor families with school fees. God has blessed our congregation through this relationship and he continues to teach us the wonder of being part of his worldwide and eternal family. Pray for our North Sumatran friends and us as we seek the Lord’s guidance for the future.

This story was also published in the November 2010 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

If your school would like to know how they can connect to the mission of God through a LCA International Mission service-learning partnership, you are invited to phone Erin on (08) 8267 7300 or email erin.kerber@lca.org.au. For more information, go to www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/service-learning/

Read more stories about school partnerships and school service-learning at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/local-partners/schools/