Top Ten Things Learned from the Earthquake /Tsunami in Indonesia…

I begin this blog with an article originally written in April of 2005. It speaks to a couple of major interests I have.

[DRL NOTE: When I was in school I remember making lots of lists. I remember with special clearness times when brother Ron Toothman and I would take a walk after our lunch break when we were in preaching school together at Brown Trail. We would have lists of things we needed to remember for our classes (written on 3 x 5 cards in our shirt pockets), and would help each other review those lists as we casually walked in the neighborhood. From time to time others in our 23-member class would participate in these valuable respites away from class.]

I certainly hope that no one takes the major point of this article in the wrong way. That which I have to say has its genesis from thoughts I have been having in regard to the inordinate amount of phone calls, and Emails I have received in recent days regarding Indonesia. I told the brethren at North Marshall on Sunday morning that I could wish that such interest in Indonesia was CONSTANT! Sadly, from past experience, I do not expect it to be so!

When something is so out of balance–as I perceive the concerns I’ve recently heard expressed regarding needs of folks living in Indonesia is–it seems to me that someone needs to say something by way of an appeal to do better. The thing “out of balance,” as you may have figured out already, is concern for the physical needs versus concern for the spiritual needs of souls in Indonesia. As the late Dowell Flatt would say: “Brethren, It’s not an either or situation, it’s a both, and.” Certainly we ought to have the compassion for suffering humanity that our Lord so clearly demonstrated in His earthly sojourn! I am thankful that my brethren are so touched by disasters that happen in the lives of pilgrims here upon this earth! I commend us for it! There is no doubt in my mind that this leads often to opportunities to teach and convert lost souls. It is a good thing to have such concern and have strong desires to do something to help! Let us never steer a different course!

However, probably many are unaware of the pitifully small amount of effort, concern, money, time, etc., that our great brotherhood has invested in the support of faithful preaching of the saving message in the great nation of Indonesia! The Republic of Indonesia occupies 735,268 square miles of territory on this globe and is populated by some 224,784,210 precious souls. This population makes them the fourth largest nation in the world and only behind the USA by about 50 million. Sadly, 87% of these souls follow the religion of Islam. The North Marshall church of Christ (Calvert City, KY) is sponsoring the work of Steve and Susan Waller in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Wallers have been in Indonesia for 6 years. I have visited Indonesia five times and am preparing for the sixth trip to begin 01 February.

I can well remember my first contacts with Steve Waller. It was by Email. We were on some of the same Email lists. There was one particular message that I received from him a few years back that particularly stands out in my mind. It caused a flood of emotion in my heart! That message stated that he had visited Indonesia with John Grubb and the brethren had asked him to come over there and work. In the message he was saying that he and his wife, Susan, had decided they would answer that “Macedonian Call.” The only thing I knew about Indonesia was that Pat McGee had been there. And I also had read a report back in the early eighties (in The Far East and World Evangelism Newsletter), written by brother Don Waggoner, regarding the tremendously important work he had been doing there. Steve was making an appeal for a sponsoring congregation for his work. I knew what I had to do. I had to present the appeal to my elders (Tommy Hobgood and Wendell Lofton) and did. Thankfully, they were willing to take on this work. The thing that drew the Wallers to Indonesia was what the brethren had said to them: NO ONE WANTS TO COME TO INDONESIA. I must say that what they said seems to be true. I will also have to say that I have the greatest and deepest respect for the dedication, commitment, and love for lost souls that has been and is being demonstrated by the Wallers! They went where no one wanted to go. Without doubt it is a dangerous place for American Christians to live! Each time Steve has an opportunity to address a congregation in the USA, he makes an appeal for someone to come over to Indonesia to work alongside him. To our shame, brethren, there have been no takers. I have grown to love and respect Steve and Susan Waller. If some young preacher, who is sound in the faith, should make a decision to move to Indonesia, that person would be greatly blessed to have the benefit of his knowledge of the culture, language, and how to carry out the mission of the church in Indonesia, in my humble opinion. He would take such an one and teach him many good and helpful matters and do so in a kind and loving and respectful way.

With this background before us (you may need to look back at the title of the article), let me start my list…

Our brethren have lots of money. I have learned of one group of brethren actually borrowing $100,000 to send relief to Asia. Two other groups have either borrowed or collected $40,000. I am sure this is only a small portion of what has been or will be done. Those loans, I am confident, were taken out with the expectation/knowledge that our generous and caring brotherhood would come through to replace the borrowed funds. Brethren, let us not say that we don’t have the money. We do have it!

Our brethren, on occasion, are willing to part with their money. Many who communicated with me were ready to send some.

There is a particular phrase which is always most effective in leading our brethren to part with their money. That phrase: DISASTER RELIEF.

Our brethren have a tendency to seek to justify massive interest in an area where there was previously very little interest by saying, maybe this will influence them to look more favorably on efforts to teach them the gospel. It has been an oft-expressed sentiment. The truthfulness of this sentiment is not to be denied, though it is often exaggerated. However, how can we be motivated to support the faithful preaching of the gospel is my quest.

Prayers for particular nations are greatly increased by earthquakes and natural disasters.

Sometimes our brethren begin to locate countries on the map, even those on the other side of the globe.

Ignorance of false religions continues to enslave precious souls. Brother Waller has reported to me that many are heard on the TV in Indonesia to be crying out to ALLAH asking him not to be angry with them any more. Brother Waller was able to use John 9 this past Lord’s Day to teach what our Lord emphasized: Not all suffering is the result of sin.

As we give of our money for the relief of suffering humanity, we are made to feel so much better about the human condition on this planet and we are encouraged to know that there are many who do care.

Missionaries in difficult fields get discouraged in that they have a constant battle they have to fight to stay in the budgets of the brethren back home. No one is borrowing money to be able to support their efforts at preaching the word of God in their difficult fields. Yet, they see money flow so freely in such a time as this.

Multitudes of souls are lost eternally in a single event. Perhaps some could have been saved eternally were we not so out of balance. I suggest to us, as members of the Lord’s church, that we need to think of the principle presented in the conversation Jesus had with Martha (Luke 10:41-42). It is possible to get our priorities so very mixed up. We can do better and we must.


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