Labak’e could never have known that a conversation with a new work colleague would trigger such a life changing chain of events.
On the lush and humid Indonesian island of Sulawesi, the Buginese people live according to Muslim and traditional beliefs, heavily influenced by ritual and culture. While the vast majority of Buginese people have converted to Islam from Indigenous animist practices, it’s still common for people to honour their ancestors’ spirits through worshipping nearby mountains and rivers.
For Lebak’e, these things were common practice. With a mother who he describes as a ‘special worshiper witch’ in the tribe, he wrestled with experiences of ‘dark spirits’ and interacted with his god through worshipping nature.
When Lebak’e reached adulthood, he decided to marry. Parents in Buginese culture traditionally arrange marriage, and Lebak’e dutifully agreed to marry a woman that his parents chose for him. He was happy to find that his wife was a loyal woman who diligently read the Qur’an and shared his Muslim beliefs.
Just one year after he married his wife, Lebak’e found himself on a new and unfamiliar journey. He started to work with a man from Java who called himself a Christian and had graduated from Christian Church Theological School Indonesia (CCTSI). He passionately shared stories of Jesus – a man who had sacrificed his own life for Lebak’e. The message of the gospel gradually transformed his heart and, another year later, Lebak’e decided to be baptised.
Having decided to follow Jesus, who he calls Isa Almasih, his life started to change. He ceased habits that were offensive to God. Through prayer and persistence, he fought against cultural traditions to witness the good news of Jesus to his friends, neighbours and family, but he was mocked and rejected by them all. His wife disagreed with his beliefs, causing a great divide in their marriage.
Lebak’e says that 2013 was the hardest year of his life. His wife divorced him on the grounds of his beliefs. Lebak’e cried out to God, asking why he faced so many challenges when he had surrendered his whole life to Him. Despite his anguish, Lebak’e continued to trust in and live for God.
In the Bugis tribe, a man who is single and has money is free to have other wives, or to change his wife. While Lebak’e had the resources to do this, his heart had been changed through his faith. With God’s help, he came to realise that his past has been buried by the death of Jesus, who has given him new life, “Because of His cross, my life is renewed.” Lebak’e says his focus in now solely on God. He knows that if he marries again, that his wife will share his faith and be willing to work with him for God’s glory.
While he now works independently, he still studies the Bible with the man from CCTSI and looks forward to a life of following Jesus and sharing His hope with the Bugis tribes.
With your help, Global Mission Partners is partnering with Indonesian Bible training colleges to train and equip passionate people like Lebak’e’s colleague for gospel ministry. These students spend their weekends travelling to villages where they can assist local churches and build relationships with local people who desperately need to hear about what Jesus has done for them.
Your assistance makes it possible for GMP to support student college fees and nurture pre-existing Churches of Christ churches in Indonesia, allowing the gospel to reach people and allow them to experience the same life altering faith and freedom that Lebak’e now has.
You can make a significant difference by partnering with colleges and churches in Indonesia to find out more and donate to this project visit: