“Shalom! Horas!” These traditional Batak greetings resounded throughout the church building as the Rev. Charles Ferry greeted the members, church leaders, and bishop of the Indonesian Christian Lutheran Church (GKLI). Ferry, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Area Director for Southeast Asia, represented the LCMS at the GKLI convention, which met from July 21–24, 2016.
Ferry brought greetings from LCMS President Matthew Harrison and noted that the “LCMS gives thanks for you.” He said that the GKLI was a blessing not only to the people of Indonesia but also to the LCMS.
“I give thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ because it is Him and His Spirit that keeps you faithful,” he said. “All over the world, the Word of God is under attack,” he warned. At this point, it is “even more important that we walk together,” he said to close his comments during the opening ceremony.
The GKLI and LCMS began conversations toward church fellowship over the last five years when Bishop Aladin Sitio approached the LCMS for theological support. He asked for theological education to help the GKLI turn from error and back to the Word of God.
The GKLI has since repented of ordaining women into the office of the holy ministry. They have stopped the practice and found other places of service for women who once acted as pastors.
The GKLI has also sought other opportunities to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The GKLI not only distributed copies of the Book of Concord translated into Bahasa Indonesia, the language of Indonesia, but they are even now working to print another edition.
The GKLI has welcomed numerous teachers and professors from the LCMS including, the Rev. Jonathon Bakker, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.; the Rev. Brent Kuhlman, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Murdock, Neb.; and Deaconness Cynthia Lumley.
The Rev. Eben Ezer Aruan, pastor of the GKLI congregation in Cibinong, has begun translating numerous works for the GKLI and has plans for continued translations.
For these faithful desires, Ferry brought the encouragement and thanks from the LCMS to the GKLI.
During the rest of the Synode (Convention), which met July 21–24, the GKLI continued to meet and discuss the direction of the GKLI into the future. On Saturday, they elected a new bishop, the Rev. Dr. Esra Sinaga, to carry on the work Sitio began.
Bishop Sinaga is the youngest son of the first GKLI bishop, the Rev. Jethro Sinaga. On Sunday, July 24, 2016, Sinaga was installed as bishop in the closing services. During that service, Sinaga expressed his desires to continue to work with and receive the theological support of the LCMS.
In his comments at the closing service, Ferry promised to keep the new bishop and the GKLI in his prayers. He encouraged them to remain faithful in Word and Sacrament. He said, “[The LCMS has] always appreciated our faithful brothers and sisters who treasure the Word of God and our Lutheran Confessions, and who want to be built up in faithfulness to our identity as Lutheran Christians.”
“As the GKLI looks to the next five years, your friends in the LCMS stand ready to walk with you and support you,” Ferry said. With these final words, he blessed and encouraged them: “God bless the GKLI and keep you always focused on Christ and His cross above all things.”
Before the convention, I sat down and interviewed the Rev. Eben Ezer about the GKLI. Please take some time to learn more about the history of the GKLI.
—The Rev. Roy S. Askins, Director Communications, Asia