Alicia Chua was the first participant in the Cornerstone Overseas Volunteer Program, spending about 5 months in Surabaya, Indonesia from 2011-2012. She recently made a return visit to Surabaya, and her observations are here!
In 2011, I made my first trip to Surabaya. Back then, I went there to serve under the Cornerstone Overseas Volunteer Program (COVP). I remember being really excited but also a little nervous – it was one of my first mission trips and I didn’t know anyone there. I hardly knew what to expect, too. Fast forward to 2015, and almost exactly four years to the day I first left for Surabaya, I flew back there for my fourth trip to this place I have loved like home. In comparison to my COVP stint there, this experience was quite different.
One major difference is the relationships that I have built with the locals over the past few years. While I was once a stranger in an unfamiliar place, I now know most of the people serving in the ministry. This gives me a lot more flexibility when planning my trips, especially when deciding what activities I want to do. At the same time, becoming familiar with the ministry during COVP allowed me to discover which areas I enjoyed serving in most. During my last two trips to Surabaya, I was able to focus mainly on spending time with the children, which is always one of my main reasons for going back.
Another difference is that during each subsequent trip, I am always able to see how the ministry there has grown. It never fails to amaze me when I look at the work that God is doing there and how he is working in the people’s lives. So far, each time I have gone back to visit Surabaya, I find out that they have a new community outreach program. This growth is something I would not have been able to appreciate as much if not for the time I first spent serving under COVP, and it is truly a privilege to be able to be even a small part of that work.
If you are considering serving under COVP, I strongly encourage you to do so. Be it in a place you’ve been to before or to somewhere new, it will definitely be a rewarding experience. If you’ve already been somewhere under COVP, I would encourage you to go back to visit. There’s something different about going back to a familiar place, somewhere you’ve served before, somewhere you’ve built relationships. It is a mission trip experience quite unlike COVP or Couriers, and it will definitely show you a different side of the local ministry.
Our mission trip was from the 24th to 30th of July. Our team consisted of four girls and two of us had never been on a mission trip before. We were really fortunate to have the whole team coming from the same cell group, so it was a lot easier for us to share our deep thoughts with one another, and to be honest and share our worries before the trip (saving us the trouble to break the ice). We had three to four prayer meetings before the trip. It never occurred to me that prayer meetings were important until this trip. During these meetings, we prayed for protection, confirmation, peace, guidance and visions of what we would be seeing in Jogja. We carefully noted these pointers and the visions some of us saw – all in our secret notebook 🙂
~ Us on the plane.
Pastor Sarlin planned our entire programme. Our accommodation, food and transport were all well taken care of. It is good as we were able to focus on the ministry itself, especially when two of us were new to mission trips, not knowing what to expect and how to prepare.
Cornerstone Jogja holds its services and meetings in Grand Zuri Hotel. They have the privilege to do that because the General Manager (as well as our translator for most of the sermons) is one of the members in Cornerstone Jogja. We stayed in this hotel too for all six nights.
The members in this church are really friendly, especially some of the youth leaders. They are so full of energy when they are serving the Lord. From the setting up before and cleaning up after the service, to leading worship, to welcoming the members who came for service, to bonding people together and bringing us around, the youth leaders there are really responsible and they listen to their pastors. All four of us were amazed at how passionate they are in serving, especially when they lead worship. They sang at the top of their voices and the love they have for Christ just overflowed and filled the whole congregation. Even though most of the time we were not able to understand the lyrics because they were in Bahasa, the presence of God was so strong and we really enjoyed the worship in Jogja. This is probably the moment I missed the most in Jogja.
~ Youth leaders leading worship.
Pastor Sarlin brought us to visit a few congregation members’ homes to visit while we were there. It was a very big step for a few of us because this was the first time we shared our testimonies, messages and prayed for people we do not know. In my mind I always imagined that there will be a get-to-know-you time before we actually started sharing or praying for them. However, that was not the case. We were expected to be ready to share at all times. How do we know what would be relevant to share or what are their prayer requests? Most of the time we really had to rely on God with regards to these questions. God is good and He answers our prayers. He never fails to guide us on what to share and what to pray for the locals. Each of the homes had its own story, and we learnt so much about God and the amazing things He could do through us from each visit. We were there not only to bless the locals, but to encounter God as well. One of the most interesting experiences during the visit was to see our visions we had during pre-trip prayer meeting being fulfilled. Words could not express how excited I was when we realized that the visions came true one after another! It was really cool.
In addition to house visiting, our team had the privilege to join the church members for their baptism class and their actual baptism, which was held at the swimming pool in Grand Zuri Hotel. The night before their baptism, the baptism candidates were gathered at Pastor Sarlin’s house. That night was pretty similar to “a day away with God” that we had for Cornerstone baptism class. They wrote down their past sins on a piece of paper and took turns burning the paper with a candle that was placed in the centre of the living room. It is really interesting how they carry the “repentance of sins” out in this manner, and they really wanted to see every corner of the paper being burned. If there was a small corner that was not burned, they picked up the paper despite it being really hot, and continue to let it burn until it all turned into ashes. Grace, our team leader, shared a message (on Galatians 2:20) that was prompted by the Holy Spirit before they burned their piece of paper (Yes, God works in mysterious ways). After they burned the paper, we began to go around and pray for each candidate. Three of them were slain in the spirit and God’s presence was really strong too. The first lady who was slained said that she saw Jesus pulling her out from darkness into light. The second lady said she saw Jesus embrace her into His arms. That was so amazing!
~ Burning of the past sins.
~ Baptism. There was so much joy in each of them when they were baptized.
Cornerstone Jogja also has a Christian programme on a Christian radio channel. Pastor Sarlin started this radio channel four years ago. We were invited to join the radio talkshow. It started with a short praise and worship, so a few of us just started worshipping the Lord in the small recording room. Fiona shared a verse and Grace shared her testimony after that, followed by a long Q&A session where everyone listening could call in and ask questions. Those questions really challenged our fundamental beliefs, and made us reflect on whether we have these basics right. Some examples of the questions that were asked are “What’s next after you have accepted Christ?” and “Why are our problems not solved after we accept Jesus Christ?”
Besides doing work for the ministry, Pastor Sarlin and her husband, Pastor Yen, also brought us around to try the delicious Jogja food. We got to shop around on Jogja’s streets too.
This trip was more than just visiting overseas churches. We formed unique bonds with the locals as we prayed for them. We learnt more about God and how important it is to walk right with God before we can reach out to others. We saw how much God can do through us to touch lives. We recognized that spiritual warfare was real, and that the devil will always attack if we are off-guard. On a mission trip, there is no way we can hide if we were not spending enough time with God in our daily life, or if our walk with God was unstable. This trip really taught us, pushed us and transformed us so much. Before the trip, we thought that we had a lack of manpower – there were only four of us! However, God used each of us in different ways and I actually liked a smaller team so that everyone gets to encounter God in a more powerful way. I will definitely sign up for mission trips again. But this time round, I want to be more prepared before I go for my next one.
Written by Su An Chia, INDO 02
Our short 5 days trip to Surabaya was an eventful and fruitful one, even before we boarded the plane we encountered some minor hiccups but thankfully all 6 of us girls managed to get onto the plane in time.
The moment we touched down at the Surabaya airport, after a quick meal, we headed off to do home visits around the vicinity where Pondok Hayat was. I have heard many astounding stories about Pondok Hayat and the amazing work they are doing in reaching out to unwed mothers and ensuring the well-being of the children are being well taken care of. It was such a privilege to finally be there.
The following days came by like a blink of an eye. The next day we were all ready to go for the Unwed Mothers Fellowship where one of our team members, Jing Yee, shared her personal story of how God could turn her ashes into beauty. We prayed alongside the mothers, encouraging them that God is for them and He is more than able to turn their brokenness, their ashes into beauty. We also gave them a handheld mirror to remind them that they are precious and the apple of God’s eye.
After lunch, we prayed for the babies at the home and prayed that they would grow up knowing God’s love in a deeper manner as they serve Him wholeheartedly.
We were then immediately rushed to “Makan Mataram”, a feeding programme where kids would come to this place to know about God, play games and at the end, meals would be distributed to them. The house was situated among many other houses and the sight of many small shoes scattered outside this very house told us this was the place. It was already teeming with children of all ages, all singing and shouting at the top of their voices. We introduced the game “Monkey See, Monkey Do” with a superhero theme. At first, due to the language barrier, it was hard to get the game going but after a few more rounds of warming up, everyone was all in high spirits. Natty shared that from this game, that it wasn’t Batman, Superman or any other superhero that could save us, but it was only the Lord Jesus Himself that could save. I can fondly remember how, when asked who is their superhero, all the children would shout loudly, “Tuhan!” which meant Lord in Bahasa.
Despite it being incredibly stuffy in that small house, with the only source of ventilation and light coming from a single window, there was a Light that dwelt within where I believe food was not just the reason why the children were drawn to come.
We ended the day on a good note at the Simo Kids Home folding origami helmets as we taught on the armour of God during the Nurturing Programme and what a heartwarming sight it was to see all the children try it on.
On our second last day, we had a Teenagers Fellowship where my friend, Kim, and I shared on the Father Heart of God through our personal testimonies. We knew that the Father Himself was there in that place as His love came and filled those who needed it. Kim and I went ahead, with the help of our host, to pray for these 2 girls who were crying. After hearing their stories, we prayed for the Father’s love to surround them and though their circumstances may not be favourable, that they will still praise God because He is a good good Father.
As the trip drew near to the final day where we finally bid farewell to the children at Pelita School, we knew that God was working within all of our hearts a compassion for the children we’ve met in the various places. God is a good Father and He is a Father to the fatherless.
Nicole Lee, INDO 03
By Pst. Cameron Walcott
Last weekend my wife and I traveled to Jogjakarta for CSCC Jogjakarta’s 8th Anniversary service. We had a great time seeing all that God is doing through Cornerstone in this city!
We arrived Saturday in the afternoon, and the first thing on our schedule was to preach on the radio station Sasando 90.3 FM. Every week, the pastors of CSCC Jogjakarta, Pastor Sarlin and Pastor Yan, have a one hour radio broadcast. This station is primarily a “country” music station, but on weekends they have all Christian broadcasting. I preached on the topic “Real Grace” and then had a time of Q&A with the audience. It was great to hear the audience feedback and get to interact with them on the air, and it was interesting to be in the radio station.
We also had many prayer requests come in, and we closed the show with Pastor Sarlin praying for all of those who had given their requests. The church has had much fruit from this weekly broadcast – several people from other faiths have called in to ask for prayer, and they have had people join the church through the relationships built by praying for these people.
At the radio station
The anniversary service was then held on Sunday evening. The church meets in a beautiful hotel hall. The hotel gives the church an excellent rate as they say they have been greatly blessed by the presence of the church in their hotel! More than 100 people came for the anniversary service, including government officials, business owners, pastors, and other ministers. There also was a guest worship leader and guest singer from other parts of Indonesia. It was an excellent, joyful atmosphere and the presence of God came in a powerful way.
The topic of my message was “Resurrection”, and after the message many responded for salvation, while many others asked God to resurrect the vision and promises He had given to them. God also confirmed many words that He had previously spoken to Pastor Sarlin and Pastor Yan, and the congregation was greatly encouraged.
Praying for Pst Sarlin and Pst Yan
After the message, it was time for more celebration – we lit a birthday cake, heard guest performances, and thanked God for His goodness in watching over CSCC Jogjakarta over these 8 years. We know that greater things are still to come!
One other highlight of our trip was visiting Livingstone Church on Sunday morning, our other network church in the city. After my message, my wife and I had the privilege of meeting the 16 children Livingstone takes care of in their orphanage, all of whom are sponsored through the Cornerstone Kids Sponsorship Program. These precious children had such joy, and are coming to know of the love of Jesus.
Sponsored Children from Livingstone
We heard of one child who actually was in prison before being sent to our orphanage – her mother had been arrested for street-side begging with the child, so the child ended up in prison with the mother. The police directed the child to our orphanage, where she is now receiving the love and care she needs. We thank God for rescuing this child’s life, and for the many others that have been rescued by Livingstone.
It was a very busy two-day trip, seeing so much that God is doing in this city. We thank God for His faithfulness and blessing on our churches there, and look forward to what the next 8 years and beyond will bring!
On the 11th of December, 2014, we touched down in Makassar. Those of us on our first mission trip were full of doubts and questions. What is it going to be like here? What work am I going to do? Do I really have anything to offer to their people? With these uncertainties in mind, all we could do was take a step of faith, and believe that God indeed had a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us there in Makassar.
The next few days were indeed a blur. Our daily schedules were packed from start to end, and we barely had time to catch our breath. Furthermore, plans that we had painstakingly put together in Singapore were largely inapplicable due to unforeseen circumstances, and many a times we found ourselves just riding the wave and moving as God led. As you can imagine, this was indeed a tiring few days, but from the bottom of my heart, I can say that these few days were, in every way, worth it.
In the 5 days that we stayed in Makassar, we were constantly in contact with the church that we had been assigned to, and in those 5 days, it is an understatement to say that we learnt and benefited from the exchange.
First of all, the humility of the people was indeed humbling. These people were taking every opportunity to learn from our mission team, be it from our sharings, our messages or even the way we used social media. They were constantly hungry to learn and improve the way they ran their church, and we were amazed at their desire to better serve their community of faith. Secondly, the raw passion of these people left me, and possibly many in our team, convicted and begging God to “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation”. Be it in their worship, their praise, or even in the way they served the church, this truly was a bunch of passionate lovers of God. This, also, truly inspired us and served as a reminder for us to never leave our first love. Lastly, these people had a loyalty and love for each other that was definitely a sight to see. Never will I forget the way people rushed forward to tearfully embrace and support their pastor after he admitted that he was tired and drained from leading the church. The love that they had for each other touched our hearts, and I dare to say it has overflowed into our lives and the way we treat our members. Indeed, their lives model John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.
Truly, our encounter with the simplicity and raw passion of the people of the church of Makassar has left a permanent impact in our hearts. However, apart from having benefited from our stay there, I also believe with all my heart that we had, with our five loaves and two fishes, deposited something of eternal value in that church. From our preaching, to our workshops, to just the simple painting of walls and casual conversations about the things of God, I strongly believe that God had used us to build something in the church. Even more amazing than that, I believe God has used us as tools to bring forth what may be the sparks of revival in that country. To me, that may be the most impactful thing in this whole mission trip, that God would use us, in our weakness and frailty, to do something beautiful and of eternal worth.
Lastly, one of the things I will remember from this trip would be the prayer meetings that we had. Indeed, “A broken and contrite heart He will not despise”. I believe that when we simply came to God and acknowledged that we could do nothing without Him, He was pleased and encountered and refreshed us at every prayer meeting. Most memorable for us was a prayer meeting that happened at the very last night of the trip, where a supposed 5 minute prayer became a long 3 hour tear filled session. It became clear that night for everyone of us on the team who grew up together and fought many wars together in the same zone, that we were a family. Each of us prayed for each other between shepherd and sheep, and there was reconciliation we never knew we needed. . If anyone reads this and goes for a mission trip, I would strongly encourage daily morning prayers of simply committing their day and their efforts into God’s hands. These simple prayer meetings have definitely made a huge impact on the overall experience of our mission trip as well as our effectiveness in ministry.
In conclusion, this mission trip has indeed been a meaningful one. In all honesty, this trip was tiring and I was left exhausted at the end of it, but if I had a choice to sign up for another mission trip, I wouldn’t hesitate. The benefits, the experiences and just the privilege of being used by God was definitely worth every hardship that we endured. I am definitely looking forward to my next mission trip.
Written by Tan Zheng Yu, INDO 08
This was a mission trip that almost did not transpire, but through The LORD’s conviction, the five of us eventually went forth – and we each returned with testimonies of very intimate, incredible and fulfilling experiences of what The LORD had accomplished through us.
We served Pastor Tjoen Thien Cay (fondly known as Pastor Acay) and the congregation of Zion Community Church over 12th – 16th December 2014. Approaching the trip, we felt unprepared as there had been no information on this new church plant nor specific itinerary. Other than a few token lessons we compiled at the last minute, we ‘went with the flow’, In spite of the lack of purposed preparation, we got to witness the extraordinary happen during the trip – the Holy Spirit moved incredibly through teaching, conviction, healing, restoration and deliverance. In retrospect, we realise that no amount of preparation could have yielded what we experienced. Truly, God’s sovereign Hand had guided all proceedings to meet all crucial needs in His timing.
Our trip started with us sharing our testimonies and teaching the Biblical principles of Faith, Love, Righteousness, Patience and Unity. These were intended to edify the church and fortify their Biblical foundation. Ironically, we became first-hand students of Faith, Love and Hunger for God in ‘action’ through the intense worship at Zion Community, and through their fervent thirst for The LORD and His Will. Despite lacking a functional band and sophisticated equipment, they worshiped intensely with voices that conveyed such earnest for The LORD; and which by Rui Zhen’s (who is a lead singer at Cornerstone) admission puts our worship in Singapore to shame. It was a sober reminder of Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. They left a priceless and indelible impression on our hearts on the meaning of worship.
The highlights of our trip came when we were asked to pray for and minister to their church members. None of us were seasoned in spiritual workings but that did not hinder the Holy Spirit from imparting to us visions, impressions and words of knowledge for all we ministered to. In fact, many returned to confirm the relevance of our words to their specific circumstances. We also conducted cleansing and deliverance, healing and restoration with breathtaking results during the house visits. This was truly God working through us in ways previously unfamiliar to us. If there is any trick to all this, it is possibly this: we fully submitted ourselves to The LORD prior to each time of ministry.
Leaving YogJakarta, we felt The LORD’s delight in Zion Community Church, and their relentless hunger and passion for Him. We are very grateful to have witnessed such assion played out in real life, and were also utterly amazed at how God chose to ove through us. To God be the Glory.
Written by Joshua Tan, INDO 04