Indonesia, Asia

IDN02 - Community Empowerment : Partnership Reports

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Report Date: February 13, 2022

Report from BHW Indonesia Partnership Facilitator

tough lifeJacqui* was six years old when the team first met her. Her feet were malformed, and she could only walk with great difficulty. Her mother brought her to the team but without the right documents, access to any form of government help was not possible. And without those documents she would never be able to attend school. Jelina was so shy that on that first visit she did not her whisper a single word and out of sheer terror the poor little girl wet herself. 

After weeks of interaction Jacqui’s father finally plucked up the courage to bring her back to the team. He was afraid to go anywhere near people who might create issues for him and his family. 

Now, many months later Jacqui is wobbling around in the kindergarten on her back-to-front feet squealing and laughing with her friends and interacting with the team members. 

Several barriers confront Jacqui in her quest for some sort of normal life. The team members have searched high and low for someone capable of making her some shoes but so far, none of the local shoemakers can do it. She desperately needs surgery to straighten her feet and that is not possible on Sumatra. Surgery and shoes would only be feasible on Java. But first, before any of that could happen, she and all her family need the right documents. 

Day after day at kindergarten her confidence is developing. The dream is that one day Jacqui will walk, with beautiful shoes!

Fear and Lack of Education

grateful for assistanceJacqui’s odyssey highlights everything that makes this team simply wonderful. The poor live in fear and it pervades every aspect of their lives. Most of them end up in the margins of society and live their lives outside the formal structures of the culture, trapped in ignorance with no one to advocate for them. They have large families; they spend their lives begging and scraping for food and many of their children die of preventable diseases. They are often buried in unmarked graves and for many, when they die there is not one piece of physical evidence left behind that they ever existed. 

Lack of awareness of the value of education go hand-in hand with poverty. Most are not educated so have little idea of the power of education to change a person’s life. Many of the kids joining kindergarten are up to 12 years old and cannot read one word of their own language. This slow start makes life very difficult for them and convincing parents to send then out of the house every day is a major challenge. Jacqui’s parents have chosen a better way.  

Advocating for the Poor

grateful for assistanceMost families like Jacqui’s do not have legal papers. The team meets them with no birth certificate, identity card, family identity card or marriage certificate and because of this they cannot access the free insurance programme from the government, they cannot go to school, to a health clinic or engage with the Police or justice system. Without these papers the poor become poorer, the sick die quickly and they become victims of injustice. 

In 2021 the team helped 230 people to get their paperwork sorted, a total of more than 700 different documents. Two team members work at this day after day. And of course, few could afford to pay for documents, let alone the time required to process them. 

Thriving though Disabled 

It is difficult for anyone to thrive without access to mainstream society. For Jacqui who is physically disabled, everything is so much more difficult. In the “old days” she may well have been allowed to die as a new-born baby. But in her case, she’s healthy and well-loved and her family cannot access the help they need. Her parents live with shame, and for many like her, she may well be confined to a house for her entire life. Without the entrance of good people into her situation, her life would remain miserable. With these good people comes Good News, hope and abundant life.  

A Team of Good People

member and familyEnter people who see and care for the poor and the lost. The team intentionally serves in this place of poverty and hardship. Most who live in this community eke out a living by making and selling kiln fired mud bricks. It’s dirty, backbreaking, dangerous work with little return. It is here the team does its best work, alongside these people. It is hard work, people are suspicious of “outsiders,” especially those who worship a different God. But by building relationships, many become open to listening to words of life and hope and families are being rescued and lives transformed. 

changing livesSome of the current team members have emerged from this community and are gaining degrees and employment way beyond their wildest dreams. This provides great modelling for the community. An essential part of this work is the development of young people into leaders. This is tough, hard work and requires long term investment in their lives. Inevitably, many of the best young people leave as they develop and there is pressure to be constantly producing more mature leaders. 

Right now E is about to go to Papua as a teacher to the poor there. N has just been married and is shifting away to her birth village area with a vision to help her people there. I has been a very useful worker but is looking for new employment although will still be involved as a volunteer. There are many young people currently on the team, but their lives are busy as students and they have a lot of pressure from their families.

The key to the sustainability of this work is the investment in young people and their ongoing development. Many of them have been isolated by their families because of their new-found faith and the team becomes their new family. This places a lot of pressure on key leaders and their families and has financial implications as well. To achieve their objectives they have frequent camps, mentoring groups and a lot of opportunities to serve in teams. 

Serving as a Minority

It is tough living and serving as a minority group. They have to always be alert and feel like they are constantly being watched. It is hard to communicate the Good News to “cousins” and it’s hard to gauge the true intentions of people they talk to. In some villages there is open aggression and opposition but there have been some amazing breakthroughs.  

Attempting to be Self-Sustaining 

Team members have established several enterprises to assist with resourcing the team. These businesses include an English language academy, a pineapple farm, a coffee exporting company and others. COVID-19 has severely affected small businesses here. Small scale loans are available to assist faithful people and in general, these are very helpful. However, the poor are very susceptible to misfortune and they live in a country that is well known for major disasters. In fact, the reason most of these people live where they do is because they were relocated to this area after the huge Asian tsunami destroyed their homes in 2004. 


Personal Stories

tough lifeJacqui isn’t the only one in difficult circumstances. Buddy* is just 18 months old. He is blind and lagging behind in development. He cannot sit up by himself, crawl, stand or walk and has epileptic seizures. He has only recently started picking up things and eating. The parents asked for help and the team has been able to organize paperwork and link them to doctors. Team members have been doing regular exercises with him to develop his muscle strength. They are teaching Buddy's mother how to stimulate him so he can discover the world around him. It's lovely to see the mother is so eager to learn to help her little son. The dream is that one day Buddy and his mum will come into the light of relationship with Jesus. 


Prayer and Praise


- Current low numbers of Covid-19 cases and a relatively normal life again, where the kids are back in school and we can do most work activities.
- The restart of their International Fellowship face to face services after almost 2 years. Especially the Sunday School that they started at their home, which is a real joy. Also they are grateful for an extra pastor willing to preach regularly.
- The English course centre has picked up a good number of new students and is going well.
- They have recruited 4 new team members for their team. They are slowly picking up their roles and building their relationships in the villages.


- They need to build a new building.  The older one was torn down since the owner wanted the land back.
- They need senior staff to help manage the project.
- Dealing with domestic violence in the communities is a challenge for their staff.
- They hope international friends can come again to train our team in different matters.
- They are looking for committed sponsors for 2022 and beyond.



It would be very easy in this land of densely packed, teeming millions to only see the masses and miss the Jacquis and Buddys of this world. Stopping to see the little people, the hurt and the disadvantaged is right at the heart of this work. And that’s why it is so transforming. One little child here, a poor family there, a young person over there, that kid needing a home in that village and so it grows. Slowly it develops and before long there is a movement that changes whole communities, that confronts a culture of fear and death and that sets people up for a life of freedom and flourishing. 



*names have been changed