Hundreds of theology students in Jakarta fled their campus when tensions in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood around their school spilled over into violence. A mob of Islamic hard-liners carried out a midnight attack with bamboo spears and acid, injuring at least 18 students in July, 2008. The event led to closing up the 20-year-old seminary campus on the east side of Indonesia’s capital city.
Some of the school’s 1400 students returned to their families; many others went to a guesthouse, but hundreds of them lived in tents set up in a park for a full year—through summer heat and monsoon rains. Church groups and charities supplied necessities. The seminary itself moved to an office building on the other side of Jakarta.
The student body at this seminary had to divide between several campuses. Even so, around 700 rejoicing students and their faculty were in attendance at chapel in early 2010 when Jason Martens arrived for a visit. The young Canadian missionary working with Torchbearers International brought boxes of books donated by International Outreach (IO).
International Outreach did not pay for Jason’s trip, but granted the study resources. IO provided the seminary library with 10 sets of John Piper books available in the Indonesian language. IO also worked with a Jakarta publisher to purchase 1200 copies of 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (also in Indonesian) for free distribution at the seminary.
Martens initially contacted Desiring God Ministries in 2008 while serving at a Bible school in India. He’d read some of Piper’s books and caught a new vision: he hoped to use Piper’s sermon broadcasts for a radio ministry in Bangalore.
Later Martens spoke with International Outreach staff, who told him about their desire to get books and other resources into the hands of church leaders in the Global South. He’s been involved in book distributions in several countries since then.
The global church receives theological support through the relationship between The Gospel Coalition-International Outreach (TGC-IO) and people like Jason Martens. Instead of planting offices, IO utilizes a partnership model to get books to anyone engaged in missions, who then take them to the growing body of Christ in Africa, Asia and Latin America—regions lacking in both physical and spiritual resources. TGC-IO recognizes the spiritual famine of Biblical teaching in the Global South, which can leave new believers vulnerable to false teaching. Their target is mainly those who either formally or informally lead churches in indigenous settings.
The book distribution in Jakarta allowed 27-year-old Jason and his wife Stephanie, 25, to be channels of blessing to the theology school. “The Lord was glorified,” he says. “These students have very meager resources but they continue to study their tattered Bibles. They’re hungry for rich content. They’re learning English, but need their own translation. Their faces filled with smiles when receiving these books. I sensed this donation left an impression of the faithfulness and love of God through the larger international body of Christ.”
A wide mix of students at the school represent different people groups throughout the archipelago—the islands that comprise Indonesia. Martens thinks about the villages these students will return to, saying: “Most of the students have a desire and calling to evangelize their country. Many men will go on to plant churches and reach out to tribal groups scattered around the thousands of islands.” The books they’ve received will eventually be carried back with them to these remote places.
Jason Martens wants to make other IO book deliveries, and says, “I’m willing to take any I can—every time I can.”
Patti Richter is a freelance Christian journalist—a writer of news, essays, and profile stories for several publications. She and her husband, Jim, live near Dallas, Texas.