Nomads no more

As our Australian and New Zealand societies increasingly thumb their nose at the gospel and treat any mention of Jesus as ‘old hat’, it can be difficult for us to understand just how welcome the gospel can be.

But that has been the experience of Pastor Hutagalung, who serves in the remote province of Jambi in southern Sumatra in Indonesia.

While serving a congregation of the Gereja Kristen Luther Indonesia (GKLI), Pastor Hutagalung became aware of a group of indigenous people in dire need. The Suku Anak Dalam or Sanak people are a nomadic people who live in forests and survive by hunting, foraging and trading. With no access to education, healthcare or income, these people are especially vulnerable as palm oil plantations replace Indonesian forest land.

Upon hearing of the needs of these people who live under tarpaulins in the bush, Pastor Hutagalung and his congregation reached out to them, offering both physical and spiritual care. They tended to the sick, fed the hungry and shared the good news of God’s forgiving love with these people who had never heard the name of Jesus before. And just as the Holy Spirit has called, gathered and enlightened you and me through the preaching of the gospel, he did the same with these dear Sanak people, who received the good news with joy and thanksgiving.

Since that time God has continued to provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of these new brothers and sisters in the family of faith. The bishop of the GKLI has led mission teams to assist with teaching and evangelism. A church has also been built on the land the pastor helped them secure from the government because they have no means of getting into town for worship. On 26 August 2018, the first service was held in the Suku Sanak church and the Sanak people are looking to build permanent homes on this land with the church as the centre of their community.

These former nomads are wandering the forest no more. They have set down roots and found a home in the body of Christ. They now share the hope that we do as they have come to know Jesus crucified for the forgiveness of their sins. Together with their pastor they are now shining the light of Christ into the wider community and offering an eternal home to others in their area.

This story was also published in the April 2019 edition of Border Crossings, the magazine of LCA International Mission.

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to

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