YOU Don’t Open People’s Hearts, I do…
The Story of an Indonesian Women who overcame the odds by ministering to Muslims.
What would you do if you started waking up crying in the middle of the night? What if it kept happening for weeks on end, an entire year even? Some people may be tempted to get counseling or a prescription for anti-depressants, and perhaps for good reason. But when this happened to Mary Watinga (not her real name) of Indonesia, rather than assume she was having an emotional breakdown, she began to suspect God was trying to tell her something.
It all started back in 1991 when Mary heard about a group of nominal Christians on a nearby island who were forced people to become Muslims. Such incidents are not that uncommon in this predominantly Muslim country. But for some reason, this particular situation hit Mary hard. “I was crying for this situation, because I knew that they only did that because they did not know the true God,” Mary says.
She knew a lot of Christians hated the Muslims for what they were doing, but she felt she must love and pray for them instead.
Despite these strong convictions, it took a year before Mary worked up the nerve to see if there was something more she could do about the situation. Even then, Mary was hesitant. As a wife and mother who lived far away from where the incident occurred, what could she do?
“It wasn’t my business, it was an impossible mission,” she thought. “I have nothing to do with those people”
Nevertheless, she finally resolved to travel to that island and see what could be done.
Mary wasn’t there long before she was convinced God had called her there for a purpose. To her amazement, people responded to the gospel immediately—first one person, then that person’s family, and then their entire village.
“It was an incredible harvest,” says Mary.
Soon, she was inundated with requests from villages all over the island as well as other places, all wanting her to come and share Christ’s message of love, peace, healing and hope.
As you might expect, it wasn’t long before Mary began to feel overwhelmed. People were coming to her throughout the day and night pleading with her to pray for them. She cried out to God for help, and he told her to multiply her efforts, to train and send others to do the things that she was doing. At first, Mary was only bold enough to ask God for a couple of classrooms. What he gave her instead was an entire seminary campus! In 1998, she initiated a five-year program during which students are trained in theology, evangelism, counseling, and church planting. In fact, the only way to graduate from her seminary is to plant a church first.
Even with the seminary going, however, Mary realized the need was greater than she or her staff could meet. That was when she felt God calling her to start a radio station. The more she thought about it, the more sense it made. A person could only work 8 – 12 hours a day, five to six days a week. But a radio station could go on broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, radio broadcasts could go where human evangelists could not. This second fact was not lost on Mary, who had faced persecution and death threats several times during her evangelism efforts. At one point a group of 600 Muslims wanted to kill her, but the police sheltered her in their station. The mob surrounded the station and demanded that she be sent out. The chief of police pleaded with the mob to leave, which they finally did, but this was neither the first nor the last time Mary would face such opposition. So she was excited about an opportunity to send the gospel message to places where few evangelists dared to tread.
Ironically, when the tsunami hit Indonesia, Mary and her staff found themselves in the position of helping some of the very people who had wanted her dead only months earlier. This time, however, the response to her arrival was exactly the opposite of what it had been. “When the authorities saw me, they said, “Oh no! Problems! Go away!” But the villagers said, ‘No, let her come!’ because they saw that I bought rice, tents, medicine, and other things they needed.”
Some of the Muslims couldn’t understand why Mary was helping them.
“We hate you very much, but you love us. Why?”
To which Mary replied,
“Jesus loves me, and Jesus loves you. He asked me to come and help you.”
They still didn’t understand, so Mary proceeded to share the gospel. Suddenly, she saw the lights go on, and many of her former enemies became her Christian brothers and sisters instead.
Mary, her staff—which number over 50—and her seminary students have distributed more than 120 tons of rice as well as other materials to tsunami survivors, and don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Despite these and other amazing achievements—Mary has also initiated a drug education program in schools throughout Indonesia—she still retains a humble attitude.
“I say to God, ‘I am not as clever as others,’ but he says to me, ‘You don’t open people’s hearts, I do.”
But none of this would have happened if Mary had not allowed God to open her own heart first.
The Story of Mary, written by Kevin Miller
Has God been tugging on your heart lately? Is He asking you to go on a mission? Have you been reluctant to say, “Yes, Lord!” We encourage you to yield to Him today and to pray the following:
“Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit.”
Stories of Christians in Muslim Countries
A Christian Muslim in the Middle East – I am a Christian Muslim womanliving in the Middle East. Loving Jesus is a dangerous love.
Indonesian Women who Ministers to Muslims – Mary tells her story of sharing about Jesus love in an area of Indonesia where Christians are persecuted.
Ribkah – an 8 year old Indonesian girl tells her story.
The Story of Andi, an Indonesian Christian Student discriminated by Muslim Teachers
Purnama Story’s – An Indonesian woman, divorced, baby out of wedlock. judgement and then acceptance.