Indonesia (MNN) – Indonesia is crawling forward with plans to move its capital city from Jakarta on the island of Java, to the island of *Borneo. However, exactly where on Borneo the capital city will be moved is yet to be determined.
Currently, a national development planning agency is in the process of doing technical assessments of things such as soil conditions, ease of access for construction teams, and more. More than likely the area the capital is moved to will be specifically designed just for government use. In other words, they’re looking for a location which is in pristine condition and only needs to be developed.
It’s important the location is in pristine condition not just for the ease of access and a smoother development period, but it also helps keep costs low. The government is looking at spending around $74 million on the move. However, in previous years it would have taken much more than that just to move the capital city across the island of Java. With that said, the government is doing well at making the move as cost-effective as it can.
Why the move, though?
“While Indonesia sits in the ‘ring of fire’ of volcanic activity and earthquakes and things like that, Jakarta’s right on the coast and it’s right near where a lot of tectonic plates do shift. And so, that’s why there’s a lot of this settling going on and sinking [of] up to seven inches a year,” FMI’s Bruce Allen shares.
Combined with the fact the island is literally sinking back into the ocean, Jakarta was originally designed to sustain 3 million to 5 million residents. The city has gone long past that threshold and is actually one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. And with housing that many people over capacity, Jakarta can’t function properly as a city, for example with waste management. Even if the capital city wasn’t being moved off of the island, the verdict is it still needs to move somewhere else.
A less severe reason for the move is that the government wants to be more centrally located in the country. Java is one of the larger far east islands making up the country. This makes it difficult for Indonesian citizens on the other side of the country to participate in government or even access its government. On the other hand, Borneo is centrally located in the country.
And not only is Borneo centrally located, but it actually shares the island with two other countries: Malaysia and Brunei. Indonesia currently owns the largest portion of the island, which is called Kalimantan.
In the past year, FMI’s partners in Indonesia have seen a lot more development take place on Borneo, which is known for being rugged.
“You know, when we think of, say, you’re going to Borneo, you think of wild remote areas. And so, it really would need to be developed and that’s what’s happening,” Allen explains.
“But that’s even great for ministry because with new roads comes better access to the people who live at the end of that road. And so, new churches are getting established and launched as well. So, this potential shift of a capital actually presents some challenges and opportunity for increasing ministry in Indonesia.”
And there’s expected to be an influx of Indonesians migrated to Borneo as a result of the capital move. Part of this is because many of the people want to have their voice in the government, support politicians, and even lobby for certain political agendas.
“With the move of all those people has come a dramatic increase in the number of mosques that are being built and even a larger footprint for radical Islam,” Allen says. “And so it would be very strategic and important for FMI and for the Church, in general, to say, ‘We want to fortify the evangelical presence on that island. We need to be planting more churches, we need reach more people because more people are coming here.’”
In preparation for the move, FMI has begun supporting five more pastors on the island. However, there are many more who need the help. In fact, FMI has been helping pastors and church planters in Indonesia for the past 20 years, but it’s only been since 2012 that the ministry has had the opportunity to come alongside pastors and church planters on Borneo.
“There are hundreds of people groups across those 17,000 plus islands, about 6,000 … are inhabited. But more than 720 languages are spoken in Indonesia,” Allen shares. “Well, now the church planters in Borneo are saying ‘Wow, we can reach the different people groups of Indonesia much more easily because they’re coming to us.’”
Some churches on Borneo are already seeing growth in their church from this early migration. One of the ways many congregations on the island are inviting newcomers to their church is simply by being a good neighbor. They’re visiting these people when they move in, welcoming them to the community, and praying for them in their homes when they’re sick.
How to Pray and Help
And the answers to these prayers have been impactful. Many of these newcomers are realizing that Jesus cares about them and loves them. Allen shares it’s a concept foreign to people of the Islamic faith.
So please, pray for the government’s wisdom in this move, a smooth transition, and for stability in the country during this time. Pray also for FMI’s partners as they prepare to share Christ with even more people and adjust their current ministry life. Finally, ask God to open people’s hearts for evangelism and to the Gospel message.
And it only takes $120 a month to support a pastor or church planter in Indonesia. Will you help empower these Christians to share the Gospel message on Borneo?
*Borneo is also called Kalimantan by Indonesians.