We come to church every Saturday or Sunday to worship and listen to God’s word. But for the Christians in Cambodia and Batam, it might mean walking for over an hour under the blazing sun to get to church. Or it might mean constant negotiations with the local government for church services to run as per normal.
For both Rev Hieng and Rev Henok who are leading the churches in Cambodia and Batam respectively, they shared candidly about their struggles to become a follower of Christ and heeding God’s call to enter into full-time ministry. But even as a shepherd now, the battles continue. This includes strife among fellow church members as well as their home country’s economic development competing for the hearts and minds of younger church members.
We give thanks for Rev Hieng’s and Rev Henok’s faithful service and we pray that they will have perseverance to ride out the various storms with God’s help. On our part, we must also remember that this freedom to worship God in Singapore is a gift from Him, a most precious gift indeed. As you read on to hear from the pastors in Cambodia and Batam and their work in the respective churches, let’s remember them in prayer today.
Rev Henok Hariyanto, 40 years old, Married
Church: Riau Islands, Batam, Church of Good Shepherd
Bible Verse: Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Prayer: Pray for God’s peace and love to reign among church members, and for the external community to experience God’s love through them. Pray for Rev Henok Hariyanto and his team to strength to do God’s work and fixing their eyes on the Lord as they serve.
When and how did you receive Christ and how did you become a pastor in Batam? Was being pastor part of your career plan?
I do not remember exactly when I received Christ as my Lord and Saviour, as it was a gradual process in my life. It is not part of my career plan to be a pastor but it is God’s calling in my life since I was about 14 years old. But I ignored it even after I left my hometown in Java and came to Batam to work in a company in 1996. I continued rejecting the calling for the next 5 years, but the Lord kept reminding me during those five years until I kept crying and could no longer ignore the calling. Finally, I resigned from my job in 2001 and responded to God’s calling.
2. How has the church in Batam evolved over the last few years and which aspect was the most heartening to you?
The church has evolved because the Lord has made it grow and blessed the ministries that we have been doing through evangelism, visitation, community work, cell group, prayer meetings, children ministry, Sunday services, etc. The aspect that was heartening to me is to see people coming to accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour and got baptised as well as grow in the Lord.
3. What are the challenges of running a church in Batam? Which is the most fulfilling aspect?
One of internal challenges that I am facing in running a church is disunity among the church members. We are also facing external challenges such as the external community who is against the church and the government regulations that make it difficult for establishing and running the church. But the most fulfilling aspect is that when we continue to focus on God’s calling to serve Him, He never leaves us alone and He enables us to overcome both internal and external challenges.
4. What are your dreams and hopes for the church in Batam?