While most Americans have their political thoughts focused on the Presidential campaigns, or are trying to forget them by pretending to care about sports they otherwise didn’t know existed before the Olympics, something very big happened over the weekend. Some 10,000 miles away in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, a Christian church held a conference on politics. The Christian Faith, Democracy and Prosperous Nation conference was significant for multiple reasons, but the biggest was one of the guest speakers they hosted and the speech that he gave. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, affectionately known as Ahok, is the Governor of Jakarta. What makes Ahok unique is that he is the first ever Christian governor serving in Indonesia. While there is a lot of background information that is fascinating in how he reached this position, the short version is: God has had favor on him. God has clearly honored the 20+ years of fasting and prayer that the Christian church in Indonesia has been dedicated to. Not only is Ahok bold in his testimony, but he has proven to govern Jakarta with the wisdom and integrity that prove his faith is what guides him in governing. He has earned a reputation for being unrelenting in fighting corruption and practical when dealing with the problems facing Jakarta. I share this as both an encouragement and admonition. May we rejoice and pray for our brothers in Asia. May we be prepared for decades of fasting while being ruled by wicked. Below is an excerpt of his speech from an attendee of the event.
Speech given by Ahok:
In being in politics, my Reformed Christian faith is what influenced me. At first I did not know who Calvin was, I only knew about Pastor Stephen Tong. When I was serving as a Representative in the House Parliament in Belitung, I had plenty of opportunity to watch Stephen Tong’s sermons. I also participated in a seminar by him, there, Pastor Tong always said, “After you complete this seminar, you must all return to your own church, ok?”_ I am also not a member of the GRII church.
I read a book by Calvin in 2009, and I compared Calvin’s teachings to Pastor Tong’s, to see if pastor Tong is making stuff up or not. According to Calvin it is most difficult to serve as a public official (civil magistrate), because they are supposed to be a model in the public eye.
Initially, in my heart I did not feel encouraged to go into politics because I am a Chinese descendant in a large Chinese church that the congregation do not like and do not want to be involved in politics.
There is one Bible verse that I hold in governing:
Proverbs 29:4 (NKJV) “The king establishes the land by justice,
But he who receives bribes overthrows it.”
As a human being, I can falter, and that is why I need God at my side.
In the past, I was offered to be Governor of Babylon by way of bribes, but then my wife said “It’s up to you, do you want to be a disciple of Jesus or a disciple of Barabas?”
At the end, I did not become governor of Babylon, but I did become the Governor of Jakarta.
In 2012, actually, I wanted to return to Babylon. But God showed me His will, I felt several times God strongly showing me what I should do. One of them when I read the book by Calvin it says, our duty is to become a showcase, showing the transformation of reformation of God to the society, showing the glory of God through our actions and Jakarta is a good showcase in Indonesia, as the capital, Jakarta is a big city, the city is right for God to display His work.
The Bible also speaks about the official task of the civil magistrate is to provide social justice for the people and not social assistance.
I agree when Pastor Tong said that the foundation of a democratic government that is true, is what John Calvin speaks about. Real democracy is applied with the foundation of the law of love and justice from God’s Word.
In the Book by Calvin, when beggars beg for money to the church, they are not given money, but they are sent to work. That is social justice, not social assistance. Social justice means self-responsibility. People who are lacking must be helped, but we also have to remain firm.
I also once said _ “You who are poor need to realize your position” _. In the “Rusun case” (where Ahok provided government apartment housing to homeless so they don’t live in the streets – a program to clean up the city), if you are caught selling your housing to someone else, it will definitely upset me and you will be expelled from the program, we must be firm. It does not mean that if you are poor and you do not know your place, you demand and blackmail the State for assistance in the name of human rights. Point number 5 of “Pancasila” (the Indonesian Ideology) speaks about social justice, not social assistance. Social assistance will only damage people and make them unproductive.
Paul (in the Bible) also said, “He who does not work, does not eat.”
Democracy without True faith, will be anarchist and chauvinist.
There is this story about my son who was going to face an exam in high school.
I asked, “What subject is the exam tomorrow?”
My son answered, “Bahasa Indonesia” language.
“Then now, you should study Physics instead of Language,” I said.
“Papa, the exam on language, how is it you tell me to study physics?”
“If your teacher did not tell you what subject is the exam tomorrow, what would you study?”
“I will learn everything, language, physics, mathematics, etc. to be ready.”_
“If in school, we always know what the exam is tomorrow so we can prepare and can learn. You can be smart in school, yes. But because we already know what we will face during the exam. Then how can we be smart in life? Life is like an exam, the difference is, we do not know what exam God gives us tomorrow, we do not know what problems we face. Every moment of our life is a test, without knowing what subject. That is why we should be thankful we have the Bible. The Bible is what we have to hold on to prepare for “exams” in life. That is why I read my Bible every morning, to prepare for life exams.”
Many times God has made it clear His will to me through God’s Word. Spiritual experiences can be in various forms, and each person is different. I used to struggle when finished my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to be a pastor and further into theological school. But my dad in Belitung was very broke, I am the oldest son . I wrestled and asked the Lord if I should become a minister or a businessman. One day, while at a church youth event, on the event handout, there is a verse written:
1 Timothy 5: 8 (NKJV) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
After reading it I felt that rhema of God, I immediately decided to return to Belitung to be a businessman. I want to be a businessman whose characteristics is just like a pastor.
*Question and answer session*
Q: Why did you choose the path of political party and not the independent path?
A: I want to mention, I believe in God’s providence.
Through the independent path, if I win, I will immediately become a superhero in Indonesia. If I win this way then I will destroy all political parties. I’ll be the first man in Indonesia who could win an election without political parties. I will be a great man. Wiranto and Surya Paloh, said to me, “If no party support you, and you win, it is finished for all political parties.”
Politics is perception. If Ahok can not go forward because of KPU (the election committee), people would say _ “Too bad, if Ahok move forward, we will have an advanced Jakarta.” Pillar of our democracy is the political parties. We should correct the way of the political parties and not do away with the political parties.
My vision is in accordance with my Christian faith: my goal is the building up of people (reconstruction of society). I was struggling for this, and this time the Lord answered through President Jokowi. Mr.Jokowi really know me. When I met with him, he asked, “Have you understood the risk of not being selected if you are going through an independent path?” I answered, “My wife and I believe, if I do not selected, it means this is the end , our task of our service to the community, we end our service honorably.” Then Mr.Jokowi answered with a very smooth, very meaningful way, “Mr. Governor, my wife had four months of stress when I wanted to be president.” More or less, what he is saying is, “Don’t listen to your wife in this case.”
Finally I decided to take the path of political parties, and many people were disappointed, they judge I am inconsistent. I also wrestled, like David in the Psalms, I also pray to God in my quiet times. I said to God, “I’m embarrassed God, just yesterday I confidently said in front of the crowd that I will progress to go through independent path, but now I actually joined a political party. People are saying I am inconsistent.” And the Lord spoke to me, God answered when I read Isaiah 60. I feel the verses were addressed to me,
Isiah 60:1-4 (NKJV)
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
3 The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
4 “Lift up your eyes all around, and see:
They all gather together, they come to you;
Your sons shall come from afar,
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side.
I told God, “I feel like I’m buying rice and is exchanged with a potato, Lord ”
But the Lord answered me Isaiah 60:17-22
“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
Instead of iron I will bring silver,
Instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.
I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
18 Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.
19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
20 Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the Lord will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
21 Also your people shall all be righteous;
They shall inherit the land forever,
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.
22 A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one a strong nation.
I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”
I am even more firmly that it is the right thing to go through political party path. Political parties have been willing to support me with my condition and little money etc. By using this path, I just finished a peacemaker. If I use an independent path, going feud between political parties, others will blame other political parties who supported me. God also reminded me to be humble. If I go forward as a candidate by an independent path, then I have a higher position in the public eye compared to other candidates who weresubmitted from political parties. But now, if I go ahead with a political party, then my position is equal to candidates of other political parties, it is fair. God wants to remind me not to rely on my own ability. Now I do not care about people trying to tell me I was being inconsistent, etc., which I believe my purpose of running is according to my Christian faith. God is the one guiding me.
<End of Ahok speech>
I hope you were encouraged as I was by these words from Ahok.