Indonesian Ruminations

I just returned from Jakarta, Indonesia recently. Jakarta is a city of more than 12 million documented citizens, but it also contains an estimated 2-4 million additional undocumented “drifters”. Indonesia is an island chain (technically an archipelago) whose denizens simply come and go from island to island without anything like “border control”.

To put it in perspective Jakarta’s population density is comparable to taking a city that’s roughly the geographic size and population of Tokyo – without the well planned infrastructure – and then throwing the population of the city of Atlanta in on top of it.

To put it mildly I’ve never seen such a press of humanity in my life. I’ve also never seen such abject poverty and human suffering in the midst of such displays of fabulous wealth. There are the “haves” and there are the “have nots” and there’s no middle ground; no middle class. The very rich and the very poor literally live side by side. Beautiful modern condominiums and skyscrapers rise from shanty towns surrounded by filth and filled with misery.

A constant, choking blue-grey smog hangs over everything – at all times of the day and night – and what might have been a scenic river flowing through the middle of town flows with trash and various unidentifiable forms of flotsam and jetsam. I believe it would have literally caught fire and burned if someone threw in a lit match.

I was shocked, amazed, and saddened. As you might be aware Indonesia is also home to the largest Muslim population on earth. Everywhere I looked I saw the star and crescent adorning the towering spires of mosques. Most of the women wore head coverings and on Friday night as I lay upon my bed I listened to the doleful din of Friday night prayer calls emanating from the giant loudspeakers adorning the dozens of mosques dotting the city’s landscape.

It was surreal and gave me pause to seek the Lord of Glory with a truly broken heart. My heart was wrenched at the rampant deception and hopelessness gripping that country. I saw small children, no older than my own, sleeping alongside the roads or begging random passersby.

I was reminded of the pain of sin and the terrible toll it has taken upon mankind since the fall. I was also reminded that in and of myself I have nothing to offer; no peace, no solace, and no hope apart from the hope of glory which the King of Glory has placed within me. Yet this hope is more than enough and His grace is more than sufficient.

For me Indonesia served as an object lesson in the utter hopelessness of fallen man. An intense and pervasive sense of oppression hung in the air not unlike the ubiquitous smog. It was so thick I felt I could cut it with a knife. I can only describe it as demonic. Indonesia is a known hotbed of sex traffic and illegal drugs in Southeast Asia. It’s a seedy, backwater part of the world where every base sin and corrupt impulse is available for depraved men to indulge in to their black heart’s content.

To say I was appalled at the condition of Jakarta would be an understatement.

Oh, Father God help us to be salt and light in a sin sick and dying world. Oh, King of Glory may your light shine through those who are called by Your Holy Name as a flame shines forth from a lamp. May we be debased and may You be glorified, may we decrease and may You increase in all things and in every area of the life that You’ve given to each of us.

May all praise, and glory, and power, and honor, and strength, and wisdom, and riches be unto Your Holy Name forever and evermore. Amen.

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