HKBP in a reality.if you look at this all photos.Europen bring the bible just to get the LAND /Land crops


Friday, August 18, 2006

Facts about the HKBP church in Indonesia

Here are some facts that might help establish a context for the Blog entries below and for your understanding of our mission there:

From the IK Synod’s “Sumatra Indonesia” brochure, available online:

“Nearly 210,000,000 people live in Indonesia. Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, while English, Dutch and local languages (primarily Javanese) are spoken as well.

Islam (87%) is the primary religion, with smaller proportions of Protestant Christianity (6%), Roman Catholicism (3%), Hinduism (2%), Buddhism (1%), and other (1%).

The HKBP people in the East Sumatra District mostly live in rural, agrarian conditions, but there are a variety of small trades in the capital city of Pematangsiantar. About 30% of the population are small farmers living in rural villages. Another 30% work for wages on the surrounding plantations producing tea, rubber, palm oil and cocoa beans.”

The HKBP (pronounced ha-ka-bay-pay) is the governing church body in Indonesia that is part of the Lutheran World Federation. It currently has about 3 million members. The presiding bishop is know as the Ephorus (superintendent); the current Ephorus for the whole HKBP is Reverend Bonar Napitupulu. His position is comparable to that of our national bishop. The Ephorus for District 5 (comparable to our synod bishop) is Plasthon Simanjuntuk.

The HKBP on Sumatra has some 3,000 congregations. These churches may be served by ordained clergy or by Biblewomen and/or preacher-teachers (lay leaders).

To read about how the HKBP responded to the horrific tsunami of December 2004 — that is, how they reached out with compassion and loving-kindness to their neighbors, regardless of their religion — visit .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Salib Kasih, the Cross of Love

The Salib Kasih marks the spot where, in 1862, Ludwig Nommenson stood and looked over the valley populated by the Batak people of Sumatra. There he confirmed his call to bring these people to the knowledge of their Saviour.
Now, on this spot stands not only an enormous white cross with lights, but also an outdoor worship amphitheater (made of white tile, like the pulpit and cross) where there are weekly worship services. To get to this special place you must climb a fairly steep and lengthy trail. And there’s no assurance that it won’t rain — after all, this is the tropics. Still, we got the impression that the worship services are well-attended.

Clearly the site is valued among the Batak people: there is a new visitor’s center with a larger parking area under construction at the base of the trail, and all along the trail are small monuments to the churches and individuals who have visited or contributed to the site.

By some accounts, Ludwig Nommenson was one of the greatest missionaries of all time. The HKBP (the Protestant church of the Batak people) is the largest Lutheran church in Asia, and Nommenson University is the largest Lutheran university in Asia.

If you would like to learn more about Ludwig Nommenson, visit
If you are REALLY interested, you can chase down one of the two old and rather obscure books about him mentioned at

(Seems to me someone ought to write a contemporary, readable book about him. Kind of an answer to Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. Any takers?)


Monday, August 14, 2006

Images: Signs that invited us

The limits of the technology we’re working with prevent me from showing you the other way in which we were invited/welcomed. Were that not the case, I could show you video footage of dancing, and of singing, and of hugs and tears that we were honored with.

It is humbling to be greeted this way. And it makes you think a whole new way about the JOY we are called to experience as the body of Christ.

Why does it take a trip around the world to experience and express such joy? Shouldn’t we dance and sing and hug every Sunday, with holy abandon?

Truly, it is a foretaste of the feast to come.



A Reflection on “Invitations…”

I am intrigued by words. The word invitation sticks in my mind when I reflect on our SALT experience. An invitation really was the first grain of SALT, and invitations were sprinkled throughout from start to finish.

First came the invitation (here the dictionary definition of “a spoken or written request for one’s presence or participation”) from the HKBP to partner in some way related to enhancing the English language skills of Indonesian teachers. This invitation was received and acted upon by the I-K Synod Mission Committee. The next invitation was extended by the I-K Synod Mission Committee. I think the meaning “an allurement, enticement, or attraction” fits nicely this time! Yes, the committee attempted to entice and attract its members and other interested synod folk to its invitation to participate in a pilot project that was in the making. When eleven facilitators were found, they each invited (another meaning is “welcome”) their congregations and friends to be a part of SALT with their prayers and gifts of support.

The days in Batakland, Sumatra with our sisters and brothers of the HKBP were filled with countless invitations. The “welcomes” we received every step of the way are unforgettable. Remember our reactions: as we were met at the Medan airport by Plasthon, Erista, and Sondang? As we sat down to an Indonesian feast at the hotel that first night? As we saw the Welcome banner stretched across the District V building?

As we were privileged to become acquainted with each and every participant in formal and informal SALT sessions? As we learned about the mission and ministry of District V in visits to the church headquarters, the deaconess school, the hospital, congregational life in the shadows of the tea plantation, the women’s association, the seminary, the orphanage center, theBibelvrouw Eben-Ezer compound, the schools where our new friends teach? Of course every invitation to extend a hearty Horas! greeting and share food and drink together was a blessing to us as well, whether at a tea plantation, the Ulos factory, Chinese restaurant, or the home of the Mayor of Pematangsiantar himself.

By the way, there is one more meaning for the word invitation: to lure, to entice, tempt. How about using this meaning to keep the invitations going. May there be many occasions when we can “lure, entice, or tempt” fellow ELCA members to an awareness of the mission and ministry of our HKBP companion synod through our experiences.



Wednesday, August 09, 2006

At the HKBP Elim orphanage

We had a wonderful evening at the HKBP orphanage where several of our SALT participants teach. First we went a reception in the beautiful little chapel that had just been built. The director of the orphanage told us some things about the chapel, etc., and also told the kids some things about us. At several points during the evening different groups of students danced for us — sort of modern/traditional dance to what sounded like Bahasa Indoensia pop favorites. They danced very gracefully, though they seemed a bit shy. (It was kind of refreshing when compared with MTV or American Idol.)

Later, we had dinner in the dining hall of the orphanage. All the Americans were seated at the ‘head table’ (but I snuck around and took photos of the kids and showed them my photos of my home, etc.) As always, dinner was delicious. And as a special surprise, we were served tuak (see previous post). As a further honor, the most senior and most ‘high ranking’ members of our party were presented with choice bits of — uh, was that pig or water buffalo? I was too far down the pecking order to see, but I’m OK with that. Trust me.

I expected a visit to an orphanage to be heart-rending. But several factors made this visit one of the highlights for me:
– We knew some of the teachers, and I could tell that they loved the children dearly,
– The director seemed enthusiastic and competent (as well as socially adroit),
– The kids looked clean, healthy and, on the whole, happy,
– There weren’t TOO MANY kids there. I learned that because of the strong family system in Indonesia, it’s pretty unusual for kids to go to orphanages.

I didn’t learn the stories of any of these kids. There simply wasn’t time. But I did come away with the strong sense that they are in a safe place, they are well-cared-for and are being educated, and that their care-takers are very capable. May all the orphans of Indonesia — and other countries too — have such excellent and loving care!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why English?
Our SALT team facilitators spent 5 days working with 40 Indonesian participants on conversational English. We started at 7 a.m. and sometimes didn’t stop until 9 or 10 p.m. In between 4 formal sessions a day the participants were engaged in conversation and exposed to English during worship services, tea breaks, meal times, field trips, shopping experiences, photo opportunities, game nights, and when it seemed just right to sing and dance.

Why do they want to learn English? I was asked the question before I left and have been asked it since. Here are some reasons shared by the participants and HKBP leaders: 1) If you are an English teacher you need to be able to confidently speak English. 2) All the schools in Indonesia teach English, it’s a requirement of the government. 3) Indonesia is facing globalization, the global current is ruled by English. 4) English is needed to compete with other nations in international affairs, in both secular and church arenas. 5) Higher level education opportunities usually require knowing English. 6) Resource books, i.e. psychology, are in English. 7) English can help people understand some concepts found in science that are foreign to the local culture. 8) The companionship between HKBP and the IK Synod needs a common language to help it become strong and grow.

We may have traveled half way around the world but our hosts and the participants made us feel at home. They embraced us with a smile, an easy going and positive attitude, a sense of humor, and a willingness to use whatever English they knew. In no time we found out that we have a lot in common- problems with finding time for family devotions, questions about effective evangelism, a desire to raise kids free from bad influences, high cholesterol…….and we all worship and serve a Risen Savior!

Its amazing what happened in just a matter of 5 days and how much we all learned. A little bit of English, God’s plan for each of us, a beautiful setting, and wonderful people was all it took. It was a recipe for success! Thanks to all who made this experience possible! Rachel

On the ferry from Sopo Toba

Sopo Toba has its own ferry, which is a good thing because it’s the quickest way to get to the hotel. It’s a one-hour ferry ride from the mainland town of Parapat, or a many, many hour drive.

The ferry took us to Tomok one day and to another destintion on another day. (The two trips have blurred together in my mind, so I will need for someone else to fill in this part.)

Sometimes the waves were a bit choppy, and the engine billowed diesel fumes, but the hotel sent delicious snacks and Sumatran coffee (the best!), and the view couldn’t be beat. As we went we often burst into song: we sang our worship songs with our Indonesian friends, and then they sang us several Batak songs. And they showed us how to dance to them!

The excursions were a welcome diversion from the intensive work we did at Sopo Toba. Every day for five days we taught four hours of English conversation, and if that sounds easy to you, you haven’t done it!


Eben Eser Bibelvrouw community

Between Medan and Pematangsiantar is a beautiful little place where retired or recuperating Bibelvrouw (Bible women) can live.
Bible women are full-time Bible teachers. In taking this vocation they choose not to marry, and this puts them in a difficult situation culturally. An unmarried woman is seen as a burden on the family; to choose not to marry is almost unthinkable. Thus, this facility was established in 1965 to serve the Bibelvrouws.

While we were there each of these women introduced herself and told us her story. As you might expect, they are women of great strength and faith. And they have plans. In the background of the picture you can see a corn field. But the corn is planted in the foundation of a building that they hope to finish building soon.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Tea plantation and tea processing factory

One of our ‘field trips’ was to a large tea plantation where many of the employees are HKBP church members. It was a quiet day at the plantation and factory — only a few harvesters in the field, and only a few workers on the line loading the tea leaves onto the air-cooled drying racks. After our tour we were served tea (best quality, of course!) and then we were each given a large package of tea by the plant manager, who had led us on our tour. He was a very gracious host, and we all came away with a new appreciation for the tea we enjoy.

Afterwards we visited one of the churches where many of the tea workers worship. We were treated to lunch, music and the chance to shake hands and answer questions.


Ulos factory

Our visit to this small industry was an interesting contrast to the tea plantation. Ulos are colorful sash-like garments worn over the shoulder. They aren’t used as much now as they used to be, though you can still see older villagers wearing them piled on their heads for sun protection. Apparently each family/clan or ‘marga’ has its own pattern.

The one to the left is more of a ceremonial or presentation ulos. These are larger and much more colorful than your day-to-day ulos. There is a ceremonial dance in which such ulos are presented to honored guests. We were so honored many times!

Below you’ll see a photo of the dye-vat yard, and a dye-master. On this particular day he was working with yellow and black. The black fibers were being dried over a fire which added to the intense heat.

It wasn’t really any cooler inside, though it was darker. The room was crowded with well-worn looms, each operated by a woman. Children came and went freely, visiting their moms and sisters. Some of the women were pleased to see visitors; others simply wanted to get on with the job. I got the impression that the hours were long, and the heat was certainly hard to take. Maybe you get used to it…


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Batak culture as seen at Tomok

Here are a few images of ‘traditional’ Batak culture.

To hear samples of music from this region, visit the National Geographic World Music website, and find your way into the south Asia area and then to Northern Sumatra – Partopi Tao Group. Perhaps this link will work :
Here’s an excerpt from the description of the music found there: “North Sumatra developed complex traditions of instrumental music — one of the very few societies in the world to use tuned drums to carry a melody. Combining these drums with gongs and an oboe-like instrument, their gondang sabangunan ensemble has a tense feel in which the melodic and rhythmic instruments seem to compete with one another. These surprising genres are virtually unknown outside of Indonesia.”


Lake Toba by day and at sunrise will explain the geology behind Lake Toba — and it’s quite a story. For even more, visit Here’s a key sentence:
“…the Toba eruption, dated at 75,000 years ago, was the most recent truely large eruption on Earth.”
For a touristy look at the region, visit

The Sopa Toba hotel where we stayed, and the town of Tomok where we saw traditional dancing, handcrafts and buildings, are both on the island/peninsula of Samosir in the middle of Danua Toba (Lake Toba).


What’s for breakfast? Nasi goreng, of course!

What bread is to us, rice is to Indonesians. That means that breakfast is usually a rice dish: specifically, nasi goreng.

From Wikipedia:
Nasi goreng is an Indonesian version of fried rice – that is what the Indonesian words literally mean.
The main difference compared to “Chinese” fried rice is that it is cooked with sweet soy sauce (kecap manis). It is often accompanied by additional items such as a fried egg, fried chicken, satay, or keropok. When accompanied by a fried egg it is known as nasi goreng special. The dish is not only popular in Indonesia, but also in Singapore and Malaysia.
Outside Asia the dish is also commonly prepared in the Netherlands, where it was adopted from Indonesian immigrants.

There are as many recipes for nasi goreng as there are cooks. Search for a recipe on the internet and see what I mean!


Batak men pray during the Sipaha Lima holiday of the local Parmalim religion, Friday, July 18, 2008, in Lagu Boti, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Although Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country, many people's religious beliefs are intermingled with traditional pre-Islamic tradition such as Parmalim which is the original religion of the Batak people. From AP Photo by Binsar Bakkara.

1 month ago: Batak men pray during the Sipaha Lima holiday of the local Parmalim religion, Friday, July 18, 2008, in Lagu Boti, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Although Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, many people’s religious beliefs are intermingled with traditional pre-Islamic tradition such as Parmalim which is the original religion of the Batak people.


1 Comment

  1. european gave bible to Batak and Batak gave the land/landcrops « my radical judgement by roysianipar said,

    […] READ MORE roysianipar @ 12:23 am [filed under Uncategorized tagged batak, hkbp.newyork, hkbpjakarta, hkbpsiantar, ISLAM, RUSSIAN, unitedarab, unitedstate […]

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