In our journey to work with the Sungai people, I hoped to use my hands-on skills and love for farming to bring the gospel to them. It has been a long journey. We started on visitor visas. We tried doing some nonprofit work, but did not get much interest in the program. Eventually the opportunity came to start a for-profit business, the easiest way to get a long-term visa. We decided my family would pursue cattle ranching.
After looking at various pieces of land, we heard there was a large ranch available. It had been run by a government business, but failed through corruption and mismanagement. For years, the ranch sat empty. The cows got turned loose and ignored. The pastures reverted to wild brush and woods. The buildings were ruined by rain and termites. Eager to have someone take over the ranch and turn it into something productive, they let us use it for three years without rent.
So here we are in a picturesque setting with a big yard, a long driveway, and a creek. We converted the ranch office into a home, and repaired other buildings to house workers and guests. I have hired local men to help clear brush and build fence.
I am amazed how many people want to work for us. I often get three or four applications a week from people who want to do hard labor. A worker told me yesterday he likes it here. He said, “You don't get mad at me.” I shared with him the verse in James that says I should be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get mad.
Having the ranch gives me and my family meaningful work and a legitimate opportunity to live in a Sungai community. We interact daily with neighbors and coworkers.
I am amazed at the cry I hear for good business. There is a sense of shame for how this business sat empty. They want the land to be used productively. By entering the community as a business, we can help raise them out of shame. It seems like business is a wide-open opportunity for God's people to enter communities and live the gospel. If I came here as a gospel worker, I would be met with suspicion. As an employer, I am a respected community member. And I get to share the gospel.
We thank God for the opportunity to live on this land in the very heart of the people group we love, and work with our hands the things that are good so we can share with people who have needs.
—LS in Indonesia