Love Thy Neighbor, Indonesia 2009

by Timothy Tay

The traffic appears to be chaotic in Jakarta with or without the traffic lights functioning and for most days you do get to your destination on time provided you allow generously the time it takes to get through the traffic jam. However, yesterday when Secretary Hillary Clinton made an official visit to the Indonesian capital the traffic was at a standstill for half an hour before and after the motorcade hits near you. In case you wondered whether Clinton motorcade had purposely dodged the street peddlers and slum dwellers so common in Jakarta she did make an effort to drop in at Petojo even if only for 15 minutes before she hurried off to Seoul for her 3rd leg of her inaugural Asian tour as Secretary of State.

The visit to Petojo has little to do with her sympathy for battlers but more to do with the fact that it is at this district that President Obama had spent a part of his childhood. Students from Obama’s old school made an effort to entertain Hillary Clinton. The mothers were a little disappointed that they could not get Clinton to sample some of Obama’s favourite snacks as she dashed off to the airport. The significance of Hillary Clinton’s visit to Jakarta in between the must-stop cities of Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing in Asia is in line with President Obama’s intention to engage the Muslim world in a fresh way that no past American presidents had done.

Apart from securing the continued supply of oil that the world is so dependent on and which Muslim nations have overwhelming control over the related objective is to resolve the historical enmity between Israel and its Muslim neighbors which dates back to biblical times beginning with the births of Ishmael and Isaac, both Abraham’s offspring’s.

Australia and Indonesia relationship experienced a checkered past but nevertheless moving in the right direction; 2-step forward and 1-step back.

This is a crucial time for the Church in Australia and Indonesia to move ahead together in this fast changing political and economic realities of our times.

We can take comfort from our Lord’s directive in Matthew 18:19 – again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. Working alongside Indonesian churches over the years we have seen confirmation of this promise of Christ to be true when we witness lives transformed and healing taking place.

There is a sense of shared destiny between our nations that we knew in the spirit despite our lack of ability to express it in words and kinds. Interesting in the parable of the Good Samaritan the Lord responded to the question of who is my neighbor to who has proven to be the neighbor – leaving the decision to be made by the one who is in need of a neighbor. Luke 10:30-37

A former teacher in Jakarta recalled the answer young Obama gave at her class when asked about his ambition, he replied without hesitation, “I want to be the President of United States of America”. Yes, a Jakarta lad did it despite his racial background, his Muslim sounding middle name and the formidable foes, including Hillary Clinton, he took on in order to make it to the White House and fulfilled his childhood vision.

What more if Christians all over the world will accomplish if we believe what God has already declared for His church that in the last days He will poured out His Spirit so that our sons and our daughters shall prophesy, and our young men shall see visions, and our old men shall dream dreams (Acts 2:17).

Timothy Tay

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