Got to know a brother-in-Christ this week at an event and realised we lived just across the road from each other. Strangest thing was that our direct train back home had so many unintended diversions. We even got on a completely different train line and ended up having an extended conversation. It is amazing how he resigned from his job that demanded him 14hrs work day, six day weeks with his wife’s encouragement, and now working in the Diocese and doing missions. When he first said he is going to West Timor, I honestly thought I heard wrongly. No Singaporean I knew ever mentioned West Timor the last 10 years. The YWAM article did a great summary of the journey there but there are a lot more details that brought me to my knees in full amazement of God, even to this day.
I wrote the details in my old blog but that blog was long gone when the platform closed. I did not save my posts. So I am recounting from memory right here as my journal ten years ago is tucked deep in storage. This story was in the year 2009.
Getting To West Timor
I had a year term to be in East Timor as a missionary after my YWAM School of Frontier Missions training. Due to the unrest of the new independent East Timor then, the departure to East Timor was delayed for almost a year. Deep within my spirit, I knew I had to be there. So I started a 40 days fast and pray to seek God. One of my intercessor friends praying with me told me to read the book “Like a Mighty Wind” by Mel Tari.
Like a Mighty Wind – The Book
This book was out of print being first published in 1971. Getting hold of the book was a challenge as the friend who suggested the book could not locate his copy. I tried all bookshops and none had a copy. Finally I called a second hand Christian bookshop, The Whale’s Belly. The lady boss Mildred said a copy just came in. I went down to the shop and was surprised to find a copy that was in great condition. It felt that it was prepared just for me. Every book that I own and read is wrapped with plastic. Just a pet peeve that I have. This book came wraped the way I like my books. =)
“Like A Mighty Wind” recounts the mighty revival poured out in a small village of Soe in West Timor in September 26, 1965. Accounts of dead being raised, food multiplication in a poverty stricken island and many miracles were recorded. It was an exciting read but what did it have to do with my term in East Timor? It became clear that God was directing me to West Timor instead of East Timor as we prayed into this more.
As crazy as it was, I knew deep in my spirit that I had to be in Soe on 9 August 2009. 9 August is the National Day of Singapore, the day of Independence.
Preparation to Depart
I am so thankful for the intercessors and friends who helped in so many ways. One of the foremost task was to find a mission agency who had operations in West Timor. YWAM has a East Timor base, but none in West Timor. There was a missionary who went in and out of West Timor periodically but somehow even with his mobile number, no contact was made. None of the mission organizations we knew had any connections in West Timor. So this search went to nothing.
God placed such a strong conviction in my heart that even if there was no mission agency to receive me, I will go. Alone. It will be for seven days. So it was decided and as crazy as it was, my mother had the peace to release me. The intercessors praying with me also confirmed this.
The next practical step was to book my flight. I found out online that my flight had to land in Kupang airport and Soe is at least 3-4 hours uphill drive. Ten years ago, domestic flights to small towns in Indonesia were not available online. I had to call several travel agencies to enquire about the flight. Most of them did not even know the existance of Kupang airport. Two agencies got back with flight prices and they cost over $2000! I did not have that kind of money to pay for the flights. Plus, it was completely ridiculous to pay so much for flights when West Timor being part of Indonesia is the second nearest country to Singapore after Malaysia.
I asked a church friend who traveled frequently to Jakarta to help me check with the travel agencies in Jakarta. He managed to get me a flight from Jakarta to Kupang at 10% of the quotations I got. So I booked my Singapore flight to Jakarta departing Singapore on 8 August 2009. My friend offered to book me a hotel in Kupang upon arrival as my flight arrived at night, around 9pm. Kupang is no big city. Once the sun set, everywhere was dark and people were at home. Yet, I heard the Lord said so clear and loud “You don’t need a hotel. Someone will pick you up and you will have somewhere to stay.” I had to turn down the security of a hotel booked upon arrival. I felt there was no room for plan B or backup plan as God was directing so strongly in this whole matter.
Flight to West Timor
I boarded the flight to Jakarta on 8 August without knowing who was going to pick me up at Kupang airport and where I was staying. Backing out was not in my mind at all as there was a very strong sense of God’s leading. I remembered boarding the airport bus that brought me from the international airport to the domestic airport in Jakarta. Fear did set in as my human thought process kicked in. The struggle went on at the domestic airport. If no one picked me up at the airport, I will just spend a night at the airport anywhere. No big deal. This was not the first time I traveled alone. But it was my first to a place where I had little information about.
I boarded the flight to Kupang, which made a stop at Surabaya to pick up more passengers. I had my usual window seat and my left was empty. I appreciated that “space” to connect with God, without distractions to keep my line with God open at all time. At Surabaya, an elderly well-mannered man sat next to me. He had several missing teeth but a very endearing smile. He tried to make conversations with me, but my almost non-existing Bahasa was aided by a simple electronic translator. So he typed in word by word to ask me questions and I did the same. It was quite amazing how far the conversation went. I knew he was a pastor for a church that is outside of Surabaya. He was visiting his son who was teaching at a Bible School in Kupang. I told him I was going to Soe. I did not even pronounced Soe correctly. He taught me that it was two syllabus, “Soh-eh“.
As the flight was on its descent and just after the announcement to buckle up, the elderly pastor popped the million-dollar question, “Where you stay?” I managed to tell him I did not know. He immediately offered me a night’s stay at the Kupang’s Bible School, which I did not even know what is its proper name. True enough, I was picked up on a motorbike as an unexpected guest. The roads were dark as there were no street lighting. I had absolutely no idea where I was going, except to trust God.
The teachers and staff at the at the Bible College were cracking their heads in how to help me with my mission. The final decision was that one of the teachers would take me to Soe on the motorbike the next morning. It amazed me that they never once doubted my mission. They were fixated on helping me fulfill it. No one dismissed me, a young lady from a city, who was completely clueless except for the call I heard from God.
Upon sun rise, we set off. I thank God that I was a light traveller. I only had a duffle bag with me and not a trolley luggage. I could easily sling my bag over myself as a pillion rider. Riding a motorbike was not unfamiliar to me but this ride was different. We were going up the mountain. It was back breaking. We were not on a big bike, but a small one with a small engine.
Arriving in Soe
We got to Soe in about four hours. We first arrived at a house in Kupang when everyone was having lunch. So we had lunch with them. After a very brief introduction to the owner of the house, the men went into some deep discussion. I could not understand what they were saying but I figured they were deciding on what to do with this Singaporean girl who just appeared out of nowhere. Finally they made a decision to bring me to this particular family because the wife could speak a little English.
We came to this lovely home of the Selan. We sat in silence in the living room for a long time. The presence of God was strong but no one spoke. Everyone was seeking the Lord, needing to hear from Him. Finally Mrs Selan broke the silence. She said seven days ago the Lord told her and her husband to fast and pray. On the seventh day, the answer to their prayers will come. I landed in their home on the seventh day. A silence of awe fell again as we took in the implication of all these. They got me settled in their guest room. I had a nice single bed, table and a wardrobe. Better than what I imagined. I was prepared to sleep on the ground before I started on the trip.
Ministry in Soe
That very evening after an early dinner, I hopped on the Selan’s car. They told me that I will be sharing the Word and do ministry in the evening. I was NOT prepared to be sharing the Word. So I hid in my room seeking the Lord that whole afternoon. John 15 was the Scripture passage. Excited but I was terribly nervous. They managed to find an English teacher to be my translator when I spoke. The people in Soe gathered in different homes every night for prayer meetings. They meet to worship, to listen to the Word and pray. I shared in 3 prayer meetings that very first night. Once I finished speaking and praying, I was whisked off to another. In the short car rides between these homes, I saw houses with lights against the pitch dark night. To think that these homes were prayer houses were just so amazing.
When we got back to the Selan home, I was told that I had to preach a sermon at the largest church in Soe of 12,000 members. Mrs Selan was concerned about my attire. I was not prepared to be on a pulpit to preach. I was prepared to rough it out, and perhaps more a prayer and recce trip. She was trying to give me her jacket but it did not fit me. As a well-trained missionary, I had my long skirt and put on a long sleeve top. Decent, but perhaps not formal enough. My heart almost went into my stomach when I was how high the pulpit was. It was not a stage, it was a pulpit similar to those in some old European churches. Really intimidating to speak from there, at least for me. This was a Lutheran church. I had to take many steps up to the pulpit. The people were 60% smaller from the pulpit’s vantage point. That service probably had 4000 people as they had a few services.
My Start in Soe
There were many more miracles and testimonies in the remaining five days in Soe. Perhaps I will recount them as the memories surfaced. I even met Mel Tari’s brother who is now living in Bali. The Selan became my Soe family. I had been back several times with long stays. I truly believe that if we seek to obey God, amazing things can happen. The window of time for Soe for me closed in about a year and things came to a complete halt. I had not been back there the last ten years. They never left my heart. Unwillingly, I had to put down the baton and I always wondered who the Lord called to do the work. My heart leaped for joy when I knew that a small group had started to go to West Timor five years ago. God is so good!