Indonesians wage peace in dialogue with MuslimsBy Jewel Showalter Eastern Mennonite Missions
“The Hizbullah commander, surrounded by his officers, spoke to us with evident deep emotion, saying that these interfaith friendships are introducing a new spirit into Christian-Muslim relations, a spirit of respectful witness and dialogue,” Shenk said.
“Then the Hizbullah served us a delicious meal. It was remarkable — the Christian student group and Hizbullah eating and conversing together.”
Kauffman said these events are the fruit of many months of relationship-building by Christian and Muslim leaders.
“The varied ways the Holy Spirit works never cease to amaze,” Kauffman said.
“Paulus told us one story of a former Muslim who contacted him and told him he was now a believer in Jesus. The man was greatly influenced by the fact that Paulus loved and accepted him but never asked him to join his church.”
So as Hartono and the Mennonite congregation in Solo give leadership to these peacemaking efforts, they see growing interest in Christ, who inspires this Christian commitment to peacemaking.
“Even the Hizbullah bless this growth — for they have come to see the Christians as trustworthy friends,” Shenk said. “What a transformation! When I asked Paulus how he accounts for all of this transformation he said, ‘Lots of tea and the Holy Spirit.’ ”
Shenk said Hartono has developed such a level of trust with the Hizbullah that if there is a place where Muslim-Christian tensions are developing, they call him to step in and help mediate the tensions. The Mennonite church has released their 40-year-old pastor for full-time engagement in this mission of interfaith and inter-ethnic transformation and peacemaking.
Muslims and Christians are also doing work projects together. After an earthquake last year, the Indonesian Mennonite disaster-response organization and local Muslim groups have worked together in rebuilding projects.
Raised as a Muslim, Hartono said that one day in an Islamic madrassa as he was being taught the Quran, God spoke to him and called him to be a Christian pastor. He did not know what that meant, but took the call seriously.
“As Hartono chaired these historic meetings, it was plain to everyone that it is Jesus who inspires his commitments,” Shenk said.
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