Mercy Moment

‘Such as I Have Give I Thee’

Local Lutherans care for their neighbors in the jungles of Indonesia.

In Acts 3, a man begged Peter and John for alms. Peter gave what he could: healing. The Kuamang Kuning congregation of the Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church (GKLI), an emerging partner of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), has reached out in the same way to the Sanak people of Indonesia.

Sanak is a portmanteau of the Indonesian phrase Suku Anak Dalam, which means “the people who live inside the jungle.” These tribes live nomadic lives in the jungle, where they hunt, fish and forage. As plantations and farms have shrunk Indonesia’s jungles, the Sanak way of life has become difficult.

About a year ago, one such tribe in Jambi Province was displaced from a coconut oil plantation. They packed their tents and went in search of a new home.

To support the tribe, the Sanak people often sell their wild game to local Indonesians. One such buyer attends the Kuamang Kuning congregation, and he brought the plight of this tribe to Pastor Anton Bengurian Hutagalung’s attention.

Like Peter and John, the congregations of the GKLI do not often have much to share financially. Hutagalung helps tend a small grove of 10 to 20 palm oil trees, which provides most of his income.

Despite their lack of resources, the congregation started gathering clothing for the Sanak people and providing food when they come to church.

The tribe recently secured land on which to live, and Hutagalung and the congregation are helping them learn how to live on this land. They are teaching the Sanak people how to farm, how to build and how to read and write.

But Hutagalung does not only tend to their physical needs. The Kuamang Kuning congregation also shared the Gospel with the Sanak people. They brought them to church, shared the Word of God and proclaimed their hope in Jesus.

The tribe cannot often attend church in Kuamang Kuning. They lack proper roads for travel; only footpaths will take you to the property. So, the tribe asked for a church building where they can host worship services.

Hutagalung and the congregation could not meet this need. Materials are expensive and supplies must be hand-carried to the property. Through the GKLI, Hutagalung applied for and received a grant of just over $4,600 from the LCMS to build a church and community center on the Sanak tribe’s land.

The Sanak have begun to build with the guidance of Hutagalung and the Kuamang Kuning congregation. To keep down costs, they are using reclaimed lumber. This church and community center will provide a place for the people to hear the Gospel and a classroom for the community.

“Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee,” said St. Peter (Acts 3:6 KJV). These also are the words of the pastor and people of the Kuamang Kuning congregation in Indonesia. They reached out with the mercy and forgiveness of Christ, and now an entire tribe has found temporary and eternal hope.

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