Indonesia, Ahok, and Freedom

I was asked today whether or not I regret moving back to Indonesia. As I pondered over this question, I found to my own surprise that my answer would not be one you would expect. I do not regret moving back to Indonesia. Instead, I would regret if I never did move back. 

Today marks an important day in history for Indonesia. If you don’t know what I am talking about, I would encourage you to Google the word “Ahok”, and you shall be showered with an abundance of articles covering this momentous day, as well as information about the man who is the center of it.

Now, for a bit of backstory. To be completely honest, before I moved to Indonesia, I never loved Indonesia. I didn’t even like it. I always had the image that it was full of pollution, traffic, racism, and corruption. I was never proud of being an Indonesian- I guess I could even go as far to say that I was embarrassed of being a citizen of this country.

So you could guess how excited I was to move back to Indonesia. Sure, I would meet all my family again, and be fattened with all the delicious foods. But that did not make up for all the negative things.

But that changed when I learned about Jakarta’s governor, Ahok. He is one of the main reasons why I came to really love Indonesia. He has shown me what it really means to love your country; to give your sweat, blood, and tears for the people; to be proud of where you came from.

Why is this happening to my country not long after I came to love it- after I felt proud to be Indonesian?

Do I regret moving back to Indonesia? No, I don’t. Because somehow, in God’s perfect and unpredictable timing, He has brought me back to Indonesia during a time of peace. He allowed me to experience Jakarta as it improved under Ahok, and and see the great potential of this nation.

Perhaps if I never moved back, I would never have experienced this kind of peace in Indonesia. I would have lived my life being a citizen of a country that I did not even love. I would never have experienced the pride I feel every August 17 (Indonesia’s independence day). I would have been embarrassed of my own country.

I would have regretted not moving back to Indonesia.

But my heart still breaks. My heart breaks when I think about all Ahok has done for this country and how he has been treated in return. My heart breaks when I think about the people who are so blinded that they do not know their right from their left. My heart breaks when I think about the future of this country.

My heart breaks when I think about the future of our children. It’s true that I’m only 17 going on 18 myself, and still (Lord willing) have a long future ahead of me. But my heart still can’t help but break when I look at the faces of little 4 year old’s and wonder what the future will hold for them.

Will they still experience justice in this country? Will they have freedom of speech? Will they still be able to worship Christ freely? Will they ever feel love and pride for this country? Or will they feel fear and shame?

I have been blessed to spend the first 17 years of my life in freedom–I do not know what kind of place my future children and grandchildren will grow up in.

Honestly, it scares me- we have been taking our freedom for granted all this time. Most people in my generation, myself included, have taken freedom for granted- the very freedom that some of our ancestors only dreamed of, the very freedom some of our ancestors fought for, and the very freedom that many people are still yearning for today. I’m afraid that instead of making the most of our freedom, we are wasting it with shallow and selfish matters.

Yes, I am afraid for the future of this country. Yes, I am afraid for my own future, my family’s future, and the future of the next generations. Yes, I am terrified when I think about the ten thousand things that may happen to turn life as we know it upside down.

But sadly, worrying will not change a thing. Being afraid will not make things any better. We should surrender everything out of our control to God, because we know that all things are still under His control. That’s not it, though. Surrendering things to God is only the first step. We should not then just sit, wait, and twiddle our thumbs, hoping that everything will work out in the end.

No, we must use what remaining time and opportunity we have left for God’s kingdom. Let us stand up and step out of our comfort zones. Let us stop being complacent and content with where we are now, but be willing to take a step further- serving and worshiping God more wholeheartedly, studying His Word more diligently, and sharing the gospel more fervently. Even though we may not be able to impact our whole country, we can make differences in those around us. It might be for another year, five years, or ten years, but if God still blesses us with the gift of freedom in our country (Indonesia or not), we must use it for Him! Do not allow the opportunity to slip past us.



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