Full of Faith and Joy

A Letter from Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta, serving in Indonesia

Summer 2021

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Dear family, friends and colleagues,

I was delighted to return to my husband, family, colleagues, and friends in Indonesia after five months in the USA. This beautiful, multicultural nation of soaring volcanos, 17,000 islands, 350 ethnic groups and the largest population of Muslims in the world, welcomed me back with open arms.

Until recently, Indonesia seemed relatively lucky during the pandemic, reporting small numbers of COVID-19 cases and few deaths. We hoped it was because of a very young population, year-round warm weather, well ventilated homes, and a culture that is used to wearing masks. Unfortunately, the Delta variant found its way into Indonesia and started spreading like wildfire. Last month, Indonesia was reporting the highest COVID daily deaths in the world. Densely populated Java, where we live, was declared the new global epicenter of the pandemic. Hospitals are overwhelmed. A hospital near our home set up tents and cots to accommodate COVID patients for whom there are no beds. Many people cannot even find a cot in a hospital tent and are left to suffer and die at home. We have become used to the continual wail of ambulances.

This situation hit home for us when my sister, Margareth, came down with COVID-19. We believe she contracted the virus while taking my mother to the doctor at the above hospital. My mother, who is 81 years old, recently had a stroke. Both my mother and my sister are doing well and are full of faith and joy.

As I write, Java, Bali and other islands are the center of a nationwide campaign to slow the spread of the virus. The government has not imposed a lockdown because poor people must leave home to farm, fish, sell, and work, or they will starve. Instead of lockdown, the government is pushing mass vaccinations, testing, self-isolation, and prevention of both gatherings and mobility. Tourist destinations and non-essential businesses, including offices, schools, and mosques are all closed. Domestic travel is strongly discouraged.

The work of the House of Authentic Sense (HAS) has become more urgent than ever as we come alongside villagers who are crippled by the pandemic. Not far from the university hospital, Christians set up a shelter for self-isolation of Covid patients who do not yet need hospitalization. Medical staff monitor patients so they don’t die of “happy hypoxia,” a deadly condition that can strike without warning symptoms. Every week, HAS Co-op buys 100 boxed meals from village members to help feed the people quarantined in the shelter. One meal costs just over $1 (USD). This not only feeds isolated patients, but it also feeds the village members of HAS Co-op and their families who prepare the food. HAS members, led by Mothers Kanti, Anna and Endang, prepare the food, carefully following strict hygienic practices. They submit menu plans for approval by nutritionists at the shelter, one week before the food is delivered. Tariq, from the COVID-19 Task Force Yogyakarta, inspects the food preparation and delivers it to the shelter. Tarik thanked HAS for providing food to ease the burden on infected families.

HAS Co-op is a model of social entrepreneurship that is rooted in love for our neighbors. It includes Muslims and Christians who work together for the common good. My students in the Business Faculty of Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW) attend meetings of HAS and see village businesses reaching out to those struck down by a disastrous pandemic. Co-op members help their communities at many levels, including farmers, food processors, packagers, marketing, drivers, and consumers. The pandemic has stimulated HAS Co-op members to develop product marketing networks for online sales. Prior to the pandemic HAS helped villagers get permits from Health Services guaranteeing the safety and hygiene of their products. This prepared villagers to survive through other outlets when local markets were shut down.

Recently the Business faculty held its annual retreat. We were challenged to help students overcome problems creatively. Instead of preparing “work-ready students,” we must train students to think and innovate for the sake of human needs and today’s environmental challenges. The UKDW Business Faculty encourages members to connect their academic disciplines with spiritual growth. I led a Bible study for faculty members on the importance of spiritual weapons in our everyday economic life. Leading this reflection helped prepare me to serve my sister, who tested positive for COVID, and my mother, who is battling heart disease and cancer. By the grace of God my sister has recovered, and my mother is stable after doctors installed a pacemaker.

My husband, Bernie, is doing well. He is staying in our cottage on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and overseeing a project employing about 20 villagers. I spend weekends with him there. Usually, he spends time in Yogya each week, but recently has had to stay away as our house is in quarantine. He is vaccinated and remains healthy, even though some of the workers have tested positive for COVID.

As I look back on these last few months, I feel infinite gratitude for the beauty of what the Lord has done in God’s own time. I am so grateful for the many people and churches who pray for us, support us financially and encourage us, especially when times are tough. Many Presbyterian congregations and individuals wrote to us to strengthen our faith at a time when there is so much sickness and death. Some sent specific prayers and asked how they can support HAS foundation over and above their support for my ministry. Your love for us, who are far away, not only touches our hearts, but it also gives joy to all our colleagues in the House of Authentic Sense. Truly this is only possible because love that crosses oceans is happening right now. Praise be to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace,

Farsijana (and Bernie)

Please read the following letter from Sara P. Lisherness, the interim director of World Mission:

Dear partners in God’s mission,

I don’t know about you, but daily my heart grows heavier. News about the pandemic, wars, wildfires, gun violence, racism, earthquakes and hurricanes cloud my vision. It’s hard to see hope; our world is in a fog. Yet we trust that God’s light and love transcend the brokenness of this time.

God is at work transforming the world, and you, through your prayers, partnership and encouragement, are helping us share this good news. Thank you for your faithful and gracious support of our mission personnel.

How can we see through the fog? What will the church be after the pandemic? Could it be that God is doing “a new thing” and is inviting us to perceive it? Through all the uncertainty we know that God’s steadfast love and care for all creation will prevail and that God’s Spirit is at work in each of us.

We all have an integral part to play in fulfilling God’s mission. As we seek to grow together in faithfulness there are three important steps I invite you to take in supporting our shared commitments to God’s mission:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel. Your support helps mission personnel accompany global partners as together they share the light of God’s love and justice around the world. Invite your session to include support for mission personnel in its annual budget planning.
Act – Visit The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study to delve deeper into the work God is doing through the PC(USA) and its partners in ministry around the globe: pcusa.org/missionyearbook.
Pray – Include our mission personnel, our global partners, and our common commitments to share God’s grace, love, mercy and justice in your daily prayers.

Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church. It is my prayer that you will continue to support this work with your prayers, partnership, and financial gifts in the coming year.

We hope you will join us and our partners in shining a beacon of hope throughout the world.

In the light of hope,



Sara P. Lisherness, Interim Director
World Mission
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give please visit https://bit.ly/PCUSAmission

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

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