Before school, Siska arose before daybreak to shop at the local market. The muddy road buzzed with motorcycles, carts, and people gathering to chat, buy, and sell despite the early hour.
She walked past the cart selling goat meat that artistically displayed goats’ heads and feet beside a hanging meat carcass. Chopping noises came from the chicken seller who tried to sell Siska balls made from chicken livers, hearts, and intestines. He offered her solid cakes of boiled chicken blood used for dog food and given to people with low iron. She shook her head “No,” then bargained with him for six quail eggs.
Flies swarmed, and rats raced one another for scraps. She headed to her favorite vendors and picked up coconut fiber (what is left after extracting the milk), tofu, banana leaves, and spices. She hurried home to give these ingredients to her grandmother, who would make botok tofu to sell in the neighborhood and to people who passed her house.
Life with Uwa
When Siska was four, her mother died, and her father sent her to live with relatives in her grandmother’s house. He then moved to the capital city, remarried, and never returned. Her grandmother, Uwa, was very poor and relied on government assistance, but she loved Siska and taught her how to live simply. They all read the Quran and memorized the suras, but Siska’s main goal was to get an education, make money, and prove herself.
ANM’s ministry partner in Indonesia operates an outreach center near Uwa’s house for those who suffer financially. The center provides a place to meet, do homework, and play games. Bible stories and biblical principles are discreetly shared (evangelism is illegal) with all age groups. Computers and a library are available for use, and one can participate in various training programs.
The ministry also offers scholarships to the disadvantaged from elementary through high school, and Siska qualified. She joined the children’s program, intent on enhancing her education so she could get a good job. As she aged, she moved on with her group to the next level. With every passing day, she heard more about the life of Jesus.
Most days, she blocked out the Bible time, but one day they read John 3:16. “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” She perked up and asked the leader to read that verse again. “What? Is that what the Bible really says?” Her mind flooded with questions.
She took one of her teachers aside and asked for explanations. “If I believe in Jesus, will I have all my sins forgiven and go to heaven when I die? If I don’t accept Jesus into my life, will I go to hell with my sins and be tormented?” she questioned. “Yes,” the teacher replied, “but it is more about His love for you and a wonderful relationship with Him.”
Siska hesitated, knowing that if she became a follower of Jesus, she would be excluded from her family and society. She sought Jesus and found Him and experienced God’s love in a new way. Finally, she gladly accepted Christ as her Savior.
Life with Jesus
Her life drastically changed. She became more sensitive to others and had a desire to bless them. Her success now had no bearing on how much she made but on her gratitude to Jesus and her longing to please Him and give Him glory.
Instead of attending a university, she enrolled in the ministry partner’s Bible school. She is so grateful to this partner’s patience in faithfully feeding her Truth for so many years. Today she is in her final year of their four-year Bible course.
Siska now says, “All of this is beyond my hope and expectation. God’s grace is the most extraordinary thing in my life. When I graduate, I want to set up reading centers in various places and share the love of Jesus with children.”
And thanks in part to Siska’s changed life, Uwa also asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior before she died several years ago.
Every child should have a Bible. Provide a child in China with an illustrated children’s Bible.
Header image: Stock photo.