Beyond the volcano

As Mount Agung in Bali rumbles, 91,000 villagers living in the vicinity of the mountain have been displaced leaving their homes and their simple belongings under the threat of imminent destruction.

The famous island of Bali, located right on the “ring of fire” is an idilic place and the most visited tourist destination in 2017 according to Trip Advisor. I have visited Bali dozens of times and have enjoyed it’s balmy weather, amazing hospitality, delicious food and beautiful sites, it truly is a place to cherish.

Some of my best friends are locals who love this island and serve those who are negatively impacted by the dark side of tourism. Illegal drugs and sex trade which are also part of the “attractions” offered here, victimize Indonesians that are caught in the vortex of insatiable pleasure. Local people end up as the hidden victims of sex trade and drug abuse, ranking Bali among the highest HIV-AIDS affected communities in Indonesia.

These days, people like Andy and Frans are turning their attention to serve the displaced in the makeshift camps set up by the local authorities. Together with teams of volunteers they are providing basic services to encourage those who are now fearing for their lives.

Children, are among the ones that need a great deal of attention as they are easily bored and can quickly get in to mischief.

Barbers in The Way are committed to serving the community

Frans together with his wife Lydia run The Way, a barber shop in the Uluwatu area. Here they offer great haircuts at affordable  prices while training local barbers to offer excellent service and customer care. Last Tuesday (September 26) Frans and Lydia brought 25 orphans, who live in the region of the volcano to their shop providing haircuts and then taking these kids to the beach.

Andy and his team at one of the temporary camps

Andy and his wife Chika, run Gerasa Bali, a rehabilitation and community development center for victims of drug abuse and HIV-AIDS. Together with their team, Andy and Chika  have gone into the displaced people camps in order to bring a little joy and fun helping them experience care at deeper levels.

Please join us in praying that the volcano’s activity will not bring further chaos and destruction to Bali.


Activities for the children are critical during this uncertain time

You can also join us in financially supporting our friends who are serving there right now. You can donate your financial gift to Next Step and all funds will be sent directly to Bali.

Papuans in USA

From the most remote regions of Indonesia, they have come to the USA to prepare themselves to bring change to their communities.
Populated by tribal groups, Papua is home to around 312 different tribes, including some un-contacted peoples. The ancient cultures of Papua have remained disconnected from all forms of modern progress. This isolation has given them a sense of identity and autonomy which would be challenged at every level as outsiders began to approach them. Under the jurisdiction of Indonesia since 1969, Papua lies hundreds of miles to the east of Jakarta. It is the last in the string of Indonesian islands.

In recent years a new generation of Papuans has emerged who are committed to their people and land and preparing themselves to bring 21st century leadership to their communities.

Veronica grew up in Sentani. She lost her father at a very early age and her Mom worked very hard to support her and her other five siblings. She worked at an airfield and began to learn about airplanes and airport management. Today, she is studying Business Management and wants to continue to study Aviation Administration management for a masters degree and dreams of providing air transport to remote areas of the vast island.

Anis comes from the remote Highlands, an area surrounded by 3,000 meter high mountains: the only place where one can find snow in Indonesia. He is studying Aviation and Political Sciences and dreams of creating transportation systems that will ease commerce lowering the prices of goods and services.

These two, among the 14 other Papuan students, are preparing themselves to make a difference in their communities. The enthusiasm and commitment to their people is evident in the way their plans were explained.

FICA (Fellowship of Indonesian Christians in America) in an organization dedicated to bring students, in this case – Papuans and mostly Chinese-Indonesians – to work together represents a major step forward in forging a better future for the nation.

The people of Papua feel colonized by Indonesia. The political and economic injustices that have ensued as a result of being ruled by outsiders have nurtured anger and resentment. The attempts by the central government to be of assistance and encourage development have constantly been marred by the corruption that is endemic in all governmental endeavors.

In the mean time, socially, Papua is unraveling. People coming to the urbanized centers from their remote villages experience such clash of civilizations that it overwhelms them. The rates of HIV-AIDS, drug abuse, and promiscuity among young people are among the highest of the nation. A whole generation of young people is being lost. Unfortunately, the traditional safety nets no longer hold society together.

In these uncharted waters there are no road maps that can assure a stable and prosperous future for the people of Papua.

This 24th annual FICA gathering represents a fresh wind of hope for the people of Papua. By bringing together Indonesians from diverse backgrounds FICA is laying a great foundation for the future. I experienced this firsthand as students interacted with each other, both in discussion groups as well as simply sightseeing at night in downtown Chicago.

The plans being crafted between students in the USA will define working partnerships that could last a lifetime, representing real hope for unity and progress.