Gregory L. Bey
I served in Indonesia briefly in the early 1990s and returned in 2011 as a professor at Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Lutheran (STTL), the worker training school of Gereja Lutheran Indonesia (GLI). Most of my fellow “dosens” (seminary professors) with whom I now serve were students my first time around. What a thrill it is to be able to work shoulder to shoulder with them now as colleagues in Christ who are banded together to train the next generation of GLI pastors.
To maintain and improve our status as a school that can issue an accredited Bachelor of Divinity degree, STTL works together with the appropriate governmental agencies as well as local and regional authorities. Wading through the laws and regulations is something that would be almost insurmountable for an outsider. What a blessing it is to have a seminary chairman like Pastor Bambang, who is knowledgeable in such matters.
A similar example is the STTL curriculum coordinator, Evangelist Agus. He needs to harmonize our specific set of studies with the recommended national guidelines for all seminaries in Indonesia. This is no small task. In fact, it is essential for securing our position as an accredited school so that our students can receive a degree recognized by the government. Simultaneously, we need to provide courses necessary to our goal of producing a steady stream of servants who will minister to the people of GLI and reach out with the gospel.
But apart from the administrative necessities that can be handled so much better by the national dosens are the obvious benefits of being instructed by someone whose language is the same as yours. As good as the “orang asing” (foreigners) become at the language of their host country, there are linguistic nuances that often elude us. The depth of our vocabulary is rarely as deep as the treasure trove of words that the national instructors have at their fingertips. Men like Pastors Sutarno and Supriyanto adeptly apply various synonyms and antonyms as they explain finer points of doctrine and critique student sermons. They, along with their Indonesian colleagues on the faculty, deftly direct regional called workers and lay leaders who assist them in planning and providing opportunities for our students to participate in early field experiences.
Additionally, the national dosens always have a better understanding of what it means to be an Indonesian. They can better sense and deal with the realities of life faced by young men who often are away from their families for several months or even a few years as they prepare for the ministry. Younger dosens like Evangelist Mikael and Vicar Lefinus, who serve part time at STTL, can more easily bridge the natural generation gap between young men in their late teens and 20s and older dosens in their 50s and 60s.
Often I joke with some my colleagues and say, “You used to be my students; now you are my bosses!” But it’s not a joke. It is a blessing from the Lord who has equipped them with the spiritual gifts needed to train our future coworkers in Christ here in Indonesia.
Gregory Bey currently is serving as the friendly counselor to Gereja Lutheran Indonesia.
GLI has 5 congregations and 25 preaching stations. Sixteen pastors (as of June 2017) serve 1,362 members. Currently 10 students are studying at STTL.
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Author: Gregory L. Bey
Volume 104, Number 4
Issue: April 2017
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