“The coronavirus feels like a bad dream, but it is not a dream. It is reality.”
Joyo summed up the outlook in his native Indonesia, where he leads Gema Kalvari Ministries.
When his team recently gathered to discuss the outbreak and their response, one missionary asked him, “What should we do in facing a dangerous situation like this?”
Joyo answered, “We must respond to this problem wisely. On the one hand, we must still be vigilant [to prevent the spread of contagion], but on the other hand, we must not stop serving God because of our fear. We must act in faith and not fear.”
He went on to say, “This ministry team was established to preach the gospel. So we must go on wisely with our evangelism program according to God’s guidance. All of you have seen how God guides and protects us during our evangelistic outreaches. So don’t be afraid! Preach the gospel at all times and in all situations!”
“Amen!” and “Praise the Lord!” reverberated throughout the meeting room. The missionaries fervently recited in unison scriptures from memory, truths from God’s Word that gave them a sense of assurance and boldness to be resolute in their obedience. They joyfully sang songs of faith and victory together.
Finally, the people of Gema Kalvari concluded their meeting by praying for the nations, for the churches, for ANM and all its staff members, for their team and families, and for world evangelism. They asked the Lord that through this worldwide crisis many people would come to know Him.
A Grandmother’s Cry for Help
“Pak Joyo, I need your help. My three-month-old grandson, Kevin, stays awake from midnight until 4:00 in the morning, crying and screaming. He appears to be looking at something on the ceiling that scares him. Would you please go to Jakarta and pray for him?” Doctors had examined the baby and found nothing medically wrong with him. The family, bewildered, was grasping at straws to find help for their child.
Kevin’s grandmother, a believer, was calling from her hometown some distance from Joyo’s town. Many years ago, she had brought her daughter, Dian, the baby’s mom, to Joyo for prayer. When he shared the gospel with her, Dian accepted Christ.
On March 1, after two days of intense prayer, Joyo knew he must act quickly. The coronavirus outbreak in Jakarta and its surroundings was worsening. Dian’s family lived over 300 miles away from his home — at least ten hours by public transportation. Many tried to dissuade him from making the long trip, as the situation was becoming increasingly risky.
Ministry of Help Continues Even as COVID-19 Escalates
Joyo finally decided to go to Jakarta that afternoon by bus. The government had declared “large scale social restriction.” While people couldn’t gather or assemble, public transportation was still running to and from Jakarta.
He invited one of his missionaries, Wahdi, to go with him. “We have to serve a family in Jakarta who needs help, and we both know the coronavirus has started spreading there. After praying, I decided to go and serve them. Evangelism must be prioritized. We can deny their request for safety reasons because of the virus outbreak, but what about the child who has a serious problem?
“We must care about the welfare of others, too, especially regarding their eternal destination. In Jakarta, we will not only pray for the child but also share the Good News with unbelievers, and we will give the family a Bible. If we don’t go, it means we think only of our own interests, but if we go, it means we also care about the well-being of others, especially the condition of their souls. This is what is in God’s heart.”
After a tiring ten-hour bus ride, Joyo and Wahdi tried to catch a few hours of sleep. Then they went to see the family, who welcomed them with joy.
Dian shared about the problems they were facing, particularly little Kevin’s fitful nights.
“What should we do? He wakes up every midnight screaming with fear. We don’t know what to do!”
Joyo assured her that the Lord Jesus was willing and able to help everyone who needs His aid. The family, while professing to be Christian, continued to hold on to superstitious beliefs and practices. Dian’s husband, a major in the Indonesian Air Force and a Christian, still believed in the occult. Seizing the opportunity to arm the couple with truth, Joyo explained the gospel to them, focusing on the Lord Jesus and His work of salvation. He also shared the Good News with their two housemaids who were Muslim. These Muslim housemaids had been trying to introduce the family to Islam. When Joyo shared God’s Word with the two women, they responded positively. He even asked them to read the Arabic Bible, which they cheerfully agreed to do.
Before praying for the baby, Joyo told Wahdi, “There are some evil spirits in this house. We must rebuke them in the Name of Jesus.”
While they were praying for Kevin, suddenly the baby cried, wriggled, and screamed piercingly. They kept praying and Wahdi went from room to room, praying and rebuking the evil spirits to get out of the house. After a while, Kevin calmed down and eventually fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.
The atmosphere suddenly changed, and the peace and joy of the Lord filled the house.
Joyo asked the family to pray together with him: “Thank You, Lord Jesus. This little baby is Yours, this family is Yours. We believe You will always protect them from the evil spirits. Let this house be a place of worship, a place where the Word of God is spoken, the Name of Jesus is lifted up, so everyone who enters this house will feel Your presence that brings truth, peace, and joy. Amen.”
Before they left in the afternoon, Joyo and Wahdi gave a Bible to the family and asked them to read and follow it. The two missionaries returned home, joyful and thankful for the goodness of the Lord. Moreover, the family told them soon afterwards that the baby was sleeping regularly every night, without any disruptions, ever since.
Missionaries Express God’s Love in Action Amid COVID-19 Risk
The situation in Indonesia is worsening. As of mid-May, over 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus, among them many pastors, doctors, and public officials. More than 16,000 cases across the nation have been confirmed to date.
Many companies are closed, thousands of people have lost their jobs, prices are soaring rapidly, criminality is on the rise everywhere, and many people are plagued with depression. The opportunities for ministry are numerous. Evangelism can be done hand-in-hand with social actions. Joyo and his fellow missionaries have started distributing Bibles and face masks, although they have very limited resources. If they had a larger supply of face masks and hand sanitizer, they would be able to reach many more people with the gospel by sharing God’s love for them in practical ways.
Even during this extremely difficult and troubling situation, Gema Kalvari Ministries is still serving the people of Indonesia. Recently, a Muslim from an Islamic boarding school in Malang came to Joyo to ask him how to follow Jesus. Three families have requested special prayer.
May God bless native missionaries like Joyo who continue to preach the message of salvation in the face of incredible adversity.