Aceh, Indonesia Gospel Campaign 2023
The gospel campaign in Southeast Aceh was a victory for the Kingdom of God despite the many challenges we faced organizing it. Originally this campaign was planned to take place on Java island. The local committee there had lots of difficulties securing the right permit. Then everything fell apart one month before the campaign. My dear friend and ministry partner Pastor Tom Lipkin from Finland who is scheduled to minister with me during this campaign has already bought his plane ticket and waiting for the day to fly out to Indonesia. We were very close to just cancelling everything but I got a urge to call a pastor friend in Aceh and ask if they are able to make a festival happen in just one month. He emphatically said they can do it.
Aceh province is located about four hours drive from our Indonesian hometown. So a bunch of us from our ministry team got into the car and drove north to meet the pastors. I was excited to present our idea and also meet with pastors that I have previously work with in the area. The first time I visited Aceh was back in 2008. I have done many small village campaigns in the past and in 2013, we had our big campaign which was the largest gathering of it’s kind ever. So I though this should be smooth sailing. And it was like that in the beginning. We got our event permit from the police in record time. We secured a field in a good location and one of the pastors volunteered to host our pastors seminar in his Church.
The day after my trip, I started getting very uncomfortable phone calls from pastors in Aceh. There were a group of pastors who wanted to boycott our event because of disagreements with a pastor in the organizing committee. A few hours later, I would get another call from another group of pastors who are defending this particular pastor. When they finally sorted things out, they appointed a chairman who is neutral but he does not have experience doing big events before. This was a red flag already. But we went along and I kept tabs on things through phone calls and additional trips to Aceh.
A few days before the crusade was about to start our publicity campaign was well underway. We had billboards, posters and flyer going out everywhere. My desire was for everyone in the area to feel welcomed to the event. This particular area also has two unreached tribes living in the vicinity. To help with the publicity campaign, our team members Dwi and Grame left for Aceh a few days before the event. It turned out that the local committee did not have volunteers ready to help with the flyer distribution so my two guys were busy all day handing out flyers. Later I was informed that the local believers felt intimidated to hand out flyers to non-believers and soon enough we found out why. During one time when Dwi and Grame were doing flyers in the markets, they got physically assaulted by someone who was shouting that they are there to convert people. Aceh is a Muslim province with Sharian Muslim law. Grame later told me, Dwi was able to calmly walk away before the situation escalated further. But the funny thing is the pastor that brought them to the market was no where to be found.
Despite all this drama, the word about our campaign did get out and during the first night we had a good size crowd on the field. When I thought all our troubles are now behind us, I get a phone call from a pastor saying the power generator died in the middle of worship time and everyone is standing in complete darkness. So I took my son Ben back to the hotel room and rushed back to the field. The pastors were frantically trying to find out how to turn it back on. The operator was no where to be found. Then we learned that it ran out of gas. When we agreed to rent this generator, it was supposed to come with enough gas for the first night. So someone finally got gas and found the operator at a local bar and got the generator turned back on again. Thankfully the people stayed on the field and we had a good night after all.
There next two night went without any major issues. There were many people who were healed during the three nights. Among them were a few ladies who had received healing in their eyes. They came up on stage to testify before the enthusiastic crowd below. There was a young girl who has had problems with her ears. Her sister told us that fluid would always flow out of her ears but it stopped that night and her hearing was also restored back to her. There were also others who were healed from difficulties walking because of a stroke. It was beautiful to hear all that was happing on the field. Every night we concluded with an invitation to everyone to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. One the second and third day of the event, we had a pastors seminar happening in the morning hours. There were around sixty who attended each morning. Pastor Tom and I thought on the New Covenant Ministry and the need to take the gospel to the unreached. We concluded the seminar with a time of laying on of hands and prayer for each pastor and leader who attended.
Here is a video highlight from the three nights