Village outreach to the 34 million Sundanese Muslims
Sastro was born in Central Java to a family of eight children. He was raised in a Christian home and was baptized at the age of nine. However it wasn’t until age 17, when a fight at a soccer game landed him in the hospital, that Sastro determined to pursue full-time ministry. After graduation from Bible school, Sastro became active in church planting. In 1996, Sastro joined SCF as a church planter and in 2007 was asked to become SCF’s Executive Director. Sastro’s wife is also active in church planting, personal evangelism, and spiritual care for the wives of church planters. The couple has two children.
Ministry Vision & Strategy
Established in 1991, Sundanese Christian Fellowship (SCF) focuses on church planting among the 35 million Sundanese Muslims of West Java, Indonesia. SCF recruits potential church planters from Bible schools, trains them for an additional six months in the skills necessary for Muslim church planting, and sends them out in teams to live and serve among the Sundanese. SCF is viewed by other national ministries as a pioneer in the area of Muslim church planting. Their innovative methods are used by many other organizations in Indonesia.
Miraculous Healing Draws Muslim Man to Jesus
“One day I saw an older man sitting in front of a small shelter looking very distressed. He was shocked that I asked to visit with him, but motioned to me to sit down. Pak Waluyo began to share about his struggles in life. His wife was suffering from kidney problems and needed an operation he couldn’t afford. My heart went out to him, and I began to share with him about Jesus, the Great Physician. A few days later I met Pak Waluyo again. He told me that he had gone home that night and prayed. After falling asleep, Jesus appeared to him in a dream and told him, ‘Don’t be afraid. What the young man said is true and your wife will be healed.’ The next day, he visited his wife in the hospital and found that she had indeed been healed. Since that time, he has visited my house often to study the Bible.” —A Sundanese church planter
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country. The vast majority of the people are Muslims. In fact, Indonesia has more Muslims than all of the countries of the Middle East
The country’s 130 major unreached people groups comprise a population of 129 million people. One of the largest of these unreached groups is the 35 million Sundanese. Many Sundanese live in superstition and fear that is rooted in ancient animistic and cultural beliefs. Their religious practice is often a syncretistic mix of animism and Islam. Only about 250 Sundanese house churches exist and most of them are quite small and located in urban areas.
One of the major challenges in reaching Indonesia’s Muslims is not theological, but sociological. Church planters’ past experience with Christianity is influenced by the West, including a worship style far removed from the Sundanese context. Sundanese Christian Fellowship (SCF) provides contextualized training that presents to the Sundanese a Gospel that is both biblical and relevant to their culture.
Although there has been an upsurge in Muslim fundamentalism, our partners believe the time is ripe to reach the Sundanese with the Gospel. In SCF’s first few years, only one or two Sundanese could be won to the Savior. Today, more than 600 Sundanese from Muslim background have put their faith in Christ. SCF’s church planters have struggled hard to win their people to the Lord, but their results prove that churches can be strongly established among Indonesian Muslims.
CHURCH-PLANTING TEAMS: $1,125 per team per month
Church Planting Teams, SCF
In the past, one of the major challenges in reaching Indonesia’s Muslims has been the lack of consistent, intentional evangelism and follow-up. It can take up to five years of ongoing discipleship for a Sundanese Muslim to come to faith in Christ, so consistent ministry over the long term is extremely important.
For nearly 20 years, Sundanese Christian Fellowship (SCF) has been sending out church-planting teams to work among Muslims. During this time they have developed the infrastructure and strategy necessary to equip, send, and nurture church planters and Muslim-background believers with great success.
SCF’s strategy involves recruiting workers from Bible schools and training them in the skills necessary for church planting in a Muslim context. Teams of three or four families are then sent out together to do ministry.
SCF’s church planters enter communities not as church planters but as social workers, teachers, farmers, or merchants. They learn the local culture and language, and also become involved in the community. By building relationships with Muslims and participating in the welfare and development of the village, they are able to share the Gospel and pray with individuals and families. Those interested in learning more are invited to take part in seeker Bible studies and house churches where they can study the Scriptures, worship, and encourage one another. New believers learn how to reach out to their friends and family and start new groups of their own.
Currently Sundanese Christian Fellowship has twelve teams ministering in West Java. The teams are monitored by an area coordinator as well as a team leader. Their goal is to establish a sustainable church model that does not require support from outside. The teams raise as much as 30% of their support locally or from other sources. Partners International’s goal is to support four teams this year.
Individual teams may be sponsored. Please contact Partners International for more information.
TRAINING PROGRAM: $1,780 per church planter
Training Program, SCF
SCF operates a cross-cultural training center where church planters undergo intensive training in how to bridge the Sundanese cultural and religious worldview with the Gospel. The training program consists of six sessions. Each session involves one week in the classroom and three weeks in the field. During the field portion they practice the skills they learned in class. At the end of the six months of training the team will have chosen a target area for ministry as well as prepared a work platform for entry into the Muslim community.
SCF began developing this training center years ago and has been constantly updating the material to make sure that it continues to meet the needs of the trainees. The training takes place in the context of a mentoring/apprentice relationship in which new church planters learn necessary skills by observation. Skills taught include team preparation, cross-cultural communication, target culture and language, tentmaking, and Muslim evangelism. This type of in-classroom and on-the-field training coupled with mentoring have proven to be the critical element in sending effective, long-term church planters.
SCF hopes to send out at least eight new church planters this year to shore up teams that are lacking workers. Gifts to this project will allow 15 church planters to attend the six-month training course. It will also provide abbreviated training to 16 Sundanese church leaders and equip 100 lay leaders in Muslim evangelism.
CHURCH SELF-SUFFICIENCY THROUGH AGRICULTURE: $7,500
Church Self-Sufficiency-Agriculture, SCF
As new believers form into congregations, leaders must address the question of how a village church can provide for itself. Without some kind of income generation, the church will always be hindered in ministry. Through agricultural programs, two SCF churches have already achieved self-sufficiency. This year, SCF would like to expand this program to another church.
Gifts to this project will allow the purchase of one tract of land, construction of a small building (to be used for the agricultural project as well as discipleship), and to purchase seeds and fertilizer for the initial crop. The land will be used to train church members in farming techniques. Many of the converts are farmers by trade so this will not be something that is foreign to them or their way of life. At the same time, they will meet for discipleship. Meeting for farming training will deflect some of the pressure on the church from the community. Income generated by the farm will be used to pay the ministry expenses of the church in that community. Long term, SCF’s goal is to see financial sustainability begin to emerge from this program as well as to provide an environment that is conducive for discipleship and evangelism.
Sponsor A Child, SCF
Partners International’s Sponsor A Child program supports the educational needs of the children of Sundanese who have converted to Christianity. The ministry wants these new believers to be able to give their children a proper education so that as adults their children will be people of influence, able to impact their communities for Christ. Sponsorship eases the financial burden on these families, many of whom lose their jobs after leaving Islam. The children attend government schools which operate year round. In addition to ongoing sponsorships, our hope is to find 25 new sponsors this year. Sponsorship costs $25 per month.
BANTEN CHURCH PLANTING: $1,250 per month per church-planting team
Banten Church Planting, SCF
Bordering the Sundanese on the island of Java is the province of Banten. The people of this area are descendants of migrant Javanese workers who intermingled with the local Sundanese. The Banten are very committed to their Islamic faith. Visitors are reminded of the presence of Islam by street signs bearing the 99 names of Allah, similar to other fanatical areas. Islam entered Banten in the 15th century by the missionary efforts of Muslims that had already spread their faith to Central Java. While staunchly Islamic, their beliefs are deeply rooted in animistic and supernatural sources.
This project hopes to raise support for two of SCF’s three church-planting teams serving in the area where the Banten and Sundanese people overlap. Two teams were sent out in 2006 and an additional team was added in 2009. Their goal is to see healthy and sustainable congregations formed and local Banten leaders discipled and trained so that they can reproduce themselves in third and forth spiritual generations. Very little mission work is being done in this area of Indonesia.
FUTURE LEADERS: $250
Future Leaders, SCF
Over the nearly 20 years SCF has been working in West Java, they have seen the number of new believers increase dramatically. However, the majority of these new believers live in rural settings with little access to quality education. In order to see the Sundanese Church grow rapidly, believers needs to exercise more influence in the social fabric of their communities. “As long as the Church continues to mostly consist of the poor or marginalized, the Church will not be in the mainstream,” Sastro says. “By educating the future leaders of society, we will see Sundanese believers become lawyers, doctors, and influencers in all realms of society. This will give great credibility to the Church.”
Through their “Future Leaders” scholarship program, SCF proactively mentors the younger generation of believers, preparing them to be leaders for the Sundanese Church and society. Accepted participants (sixth to ninth grade equivalent) will be entered into a boarding school or Christian home in an area where they will receive a good education, regular discipleship, as well as personal mentoring to help develop their character. An ideal candidate is one who has made a clear profession of faith, has excelled in school, and shows potential for leadership development. Gifts to this project will provide tuition, books, room and board, and transportation.
MENTORING CENTER: $50,000 for project
Mentoring Center, SCF
Education levels and opportunities are very low among the local people SCF is reaching. Many of the believers are isolated and receive limited discipleship based on the abilities of the local congregation. Peer influences among the local people are often not in accordance with biblical standards, and some children of believers face tremendous peer pressure to leave their faith and return to Islam. Dovetailing with the Future Leaders project, SCF seeks to provide a more structured discipleship environment that focuses on the needs of young people (13-18 years of age).
Through their “Mentoring Center,” SCF provides an environment and peer group that is in line with biblical principles. Ideally this type of youth ministry would be done through local congregations, however due to lack of finances, trained leadership, and organizational structure, they are not yet equipped to provide higher educational or spiritual development for the next generation. With a focus on character and leadership development, the overall goal of the center is to build up a generation of Sundanese believers that are spiritually mature, well educated, and positioned to become community leaders in the future.
The center will be staffed by a husband and wife houseparent team and two other disciplers. SCF hopes to recruit 10-15 teens from eight local congregations.
This program has already begun but is being held in a rented facility. Partners would like to help them acquire a building of their own.