Indonesia (MNN) — Most people think of the resort island of Bali when asked about the country of Indonesia. But for Vera Aurima, Field Communication Specialist for Compassion International, her homeland is a rich tapestry of languages, dialects, and cultures – all in need of tangible hope.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country by population, and its 17,000 islands cover an area roughly the size of the United States. Compassion’s work there began in 1968, and currently more than 106,000 children participate in more than 555 child development centers.
Aurima says some parts of Indonesia allow freedom of religion, while others are governed and restricted by Islam. “Many people think Indonesia is only about Muslim people because Indonesia is a very big Muslim country, but we have six different religions here in Indonesia.”
Compassion’s model for partnering with local churches to serve children has transformed communities throughout Indonesia. Both core programs for school-aged children and child survival programs for infants and toddlers are offered.
Aurima shares, “Many of the parents comment that Compassion has really helped the children – not only about how the project gives food for them, not only about access to medical check-ups, but also that the children become good people. Because in Compassion projects, the tutor and mentor will teach good things for the children.”
Those good things include the Gospel, and Aurima says the care being provided the children is impacting many parents for eternity.
“There’s a mother who finally accepts Christ as her Savior. She didn’t learn about God’s power in the Bible, but she just sees what happens with her children at the project…. It’s not only about the food, it’s not only about the medical check-ups for the children, but they can see God’s love through the benefits the children get in the project.”
A number of organizations and government agencies have promised care for the people of Indonesia, and most fall short of those promises. Aurima says many communities are skeptical when they first learn of Compassion and local churches partnering to provide care for children.
“For some parents, they did not believe Compassion when they came and they said, ‘We will help your children.’ But day-by-day, they see the reality that what Compassion does is real. What we say, we do. And it gives impact to the parents, to the children, to their community.”
In addition to the programs provided to sponsored children, monthly meetings are held with the families of those children – to discuss needs and progress. Compassion, working with local church staff, becomes the entire family’s advocate for education, healthcare, parenting skills, vocational training, and more. The local church is then empowered to provide additional programs to help empower families to thrive.
Aurima says prayer is essential for the work of Compassion and the local church.
“Pray for all staff in the local church who will be our partner, that you would have people to serve the mother, the children, and the community. But then also pray for our children, and the faithfulness of our project staff.”