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Solidarity Brings Hope

A Letter from Farsijana Adeney-Risakotta, serving in Indonesia

July 2020

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Greetings from Yogyakarta, Sisters and Brothers in Christ.

The COVID-19 pandemic haunts the world, and Indonesia is no exception. Indonesia is one of the 10 Asian countries with the highest COVID-19 cases.

In Indonesia, many people go hungry if they do not work. Villagers will starve if they do not continue to farm, fish, do handicrafts, build, etc. The government understands this and has not imposed a total lockdown. The government did forbid the annual pilgrimage to hometowns at the end of Ramadan. All but urgent travel is now forbidden. Wearing masks in public places is mandatory, social distancing is encouraged, and large gatherings are forbidden. Schools and universities are all online, but most businesses and food stalls remain open.

Our House of Authentic Sense (HAS) Co-op encourages members to continue production. HAS collaborated with the Center for Studies of Development and Social Transformation (CSDST) at our university to purchase members’ products, including rice, tea, coffee, soy sauce, snacks, and other food, to make up packages of basic food supplies as gifts to HAS Co-op members at the end of Ramadan. Please see these two links. I composed the two different songs and sang them as the background for these two videos (https://youtu.be/TW4K4K55xTw and https://youtu.be/PmtkqZI9Yrs).

This year I fasted along with my Muslim friends as a sign of solidarity and concern as we struggle to understand what God is doing in our broken world. The COVID-19 pandemic teaches us about solidarity and cooperation to help each other. We are transforming the frustration of having to stay home into the satisfaction of still producing quality products that can feed families. Solidarity was especially important during the month of Ramadan. Reflections on real cooperation between Christians and Muslims prompted us to hold a virtual discussion about Ramadan’s meaning and the celebration of the ascension of Jesus Christ. Christ’s ascension is a national holiday in Indonesia that this year came at the end of Ramadan. HAS organized the discussion and involved a network of mutually supportive institutions, including Sunan Kalijaga Islamic Boarding School, the Center for Security and Peace Studies at Gadjah Mada University, and CSDST at Duta Wacana Christian University (https://youtu.be/1VLjPX94qzY ).

The HAS Co-op is vital to its members during the pandemic crisis. For example, Mr. Suka Hadi was very grateful when the Co-op stepped in to buy his tea when there were no other buyers. The tea pickers are poor people who live around the village of Pagerharjo. Picking tea is their only means of earning a wage to feed their families. In addition to buying some of his tea, HAS Co-op also gave Mr. Suka Hadi a loan to help make ends meet.

June is the month for celebrating Pancasila, the five principles that are the foundation of Indonesia as a nation-state. The five principles include: 1. The Great Oneness of God; 2. One Just and Civilized Humanity; 3. The Unity of Indonesia; 4. Representative Government based on the Sovereignty of the people; and 5. Social Justice for all Indonesians. These principles provide a legal basis for Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucians to enjoy equal rights, even though Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. HAS and CSDST held a virtual seminar to discuss how Pancasila values can help build a citizen’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government officials from the Pancasila Ideology Empowerment Agency and the Office for Co-ops and Small-Medium Enterprises were keynote speakers. The seminar also gave us the opportunity to display HAS Co-op products like tea, coffee, handicrafts and trekking opportunities (https://youtu.be/Hz9lggohOpI).

I am very grateful that HAS Co-op is a joint organization built by people from many different backgrounds. HAS can continue its activities in creative ways. HAS encourages villagers to follow pandemic health protocols while continuing economic activities through creative means even when local marketplaces are shut down. At a time when people are suspicious of “outsiders,” HAS demonstrates that people from different religious, racial, and economic backgrounds can support each other. Economic democratization is going well.

Currently, HAS is advocating for substantive cooperation between village producers, government officials, and large retail outlets. Co-op members need help with ensuring quality control, consistency of products, continuity, and trademark management. They need further training and education and the right contacts for marketing and distribution.

Unfortunately, many people lack opportunities to work together in an organization such as HAS Co-op. HAS Co-op needs to expand to include many more people. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matt. 9:37).

In November 2020, Bernie and I hope to travel to the United States for 3-4 months. We plan on visiting family and concentrating on communicating with you. While we probably will not yet be allowed to travel to visit you in person, I hope to have “virtual visits” with as many of you as possible between December 2020 and March 2021. Please let me know if you, or your church, want to set up a virtual meeting with me when I am in the United States.

Our ministry and the HAS Co-op could not continue without our brothers’ and sisters’ support in PC(USA). I am genuinely grateful for every penny donated to support Christ’s ministry in Indonesia.

Salaam, Peace. Farsijana and Bernie


Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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