Day 10 - EMOTIONS
Late last night I received a phone call from Major Nyoman Timonuli to inform me that our plans for today needed to change as the Elementary School Principal of Palu School and CSM of Towua Corps, Mr Oskar Hohoy, had suddenly passed away. We were shocked to hear this tragic news, as was his family, friends and colleagues at the School and Corps.
So it was a morning of many emotions, saying goodbye to two of our team members, Steve and Kirsten, who needed to return to Melbourne for work commitments, and then attending a memorial service for Oskar at his family home, as is the custom in Indonesia. As we arrived at his home, his body laid dressed in Salvation Army uniform in an open coffin with his mourning family at his side. A large crowd of colleagues and Corps members gathered out the front of their home ready for a service to comfort and support the family. Major Nyoman Timonuli, as the Director of Palu School, led the service and it was an extraordinary privilege to be asked to deliver a message of encouragement for those gathered to show their respects. In all the funerals I have conducted over 18 years of ministry as a Salvation Army Officer, I don't think I have ever seen and heard such an outpouring of grief and emotion as we did today among this gathered community of family and friends. Yet, amidst their grief was a strong hope that can only be found in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The afternoon presented us with an entirely different set of emotions as we travelled to the Gimpu District to conduct the planned district meeting at Lauwa Corps, two and a half hours out of Palu. Salvationists from surrounding Corps gathered for a time of combined worship and to hear from God's Word. The service included some amazing local musical talent, presenting performances with some unique local bamboo instruments, as well as an inspiring youth singing group. I preached on 'Faith & Miracles' comparing two powerful miracles from the Bible - Moses standing at the edge of the Red Sea and Joshua standing at the edge of the Jordan River - to describe the relationship between faith and miracles. This led to an invitation to the congregation to step out in faith first and then trust God for the miracle. Once again, we were overwhelmed by emotion at the extraordinary movement of Holy Spirit as a crowd of people stepped out in faith to the mercy seat! It was an incredibly moving sight to see so many of the congregation respond to God in heart-felt prayer.
I don't know if it is because we are visitors or because there is a greater receptivity to the prompting of the Spirit here, but we have never experienced this degree of response to our ministry back home. It is truly a humbling and blessed experience to be a part of an outpouring of Holy Spirit in such a way. All praise and honour to our God!! Memuji Tuhan!