We visited the “Abdi Sabda” seminary and teacher’s college in Medan, where we were scheduled to lecture to the students the entire day. The seminary was begun in the 1960s by the Reformed Church, but now most all of the students are Lutheran, and the direction of the seminary is conducted by the several Lutheran churches that are members of the association. There are about 550 students who are a part of the program full-time, and they come from all around Indonesia. A couple of the especially inquisitive students were from Nias Island.
There were extended question and answer periods during which I was impressed by the depth of questions the students asked—especially questions asking to connect the teachings we were presenting to the Indonesia context, where the Christians are very much in the minority. Although in this part of the country there are Christian churches all over the place—many of them being very large and beautiful—once you get to other parts of the country, like Jakarta, Islam definitely dominates.
It was great to see Imelda [Lutheran Hour Ministries—Indonesia Director Imelda Aritonang] in action. She is definitely a very good public speaker in Indonesian Bahasa, as well as her tribal tongue, Batak. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying, but I could tell by the hushed attentiveness of the students that her talk was engaging them.
Heading for the seminary in the morning, I had expected a classroom with maybe 15-20 students. It was amazing to see the great number of students who filled the lecture hall, all singing a song of welcome as we came in. They all stayed for our talks from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and then again from 2:00 p.m. to about 4:15. Although the Christian church is a minority in this country, one can’t help but be optimistic about its future with such enthusiastic and dedicated young people coming up as pastors and teachers.