At Renewal 2027 – The Holy Spirit Transforming Us in Kisumu, Kenya, 21 April 2018, several people shared a testimony of one experience of the Spirit’s work changing people in the church. Several of the columns in this section have been adapted from their presentations. Additional testimonies also tell of the work of the Holy Spirit transforming lives.
Can we talk about a mission without the Holy Spirit, or talk about the Holy Spirit but ignore mission?
I remember when I first learned about missions at the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Jakarta. I was in my second year in university when I heard Rev. Dr. Mangapul Sagala speak. “The Holy Spirit is for mission,” he said.
This short sentence stuck in my heart and mind.
Inseparable from mission
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I -have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20). The Great Commission begins locally to globally.
This is the meaning of being a witness for Jesus. It is an uneasy mandate, but the power of the Holy Spirit is given to us, to be with us in carrying out this task.
When the Holy Spirit is poured out, the apostles are given the power to witness, with authority and miraculous signs (Acts 2:32).
The existence of the Holy Spirit cannot be separated from God’s dynamic power, which enables the apostles – and now us – to be witnesses of Jesus.
Holy Spirit: power to witness
If we read Acts as a whole, we will see how the personal role of the Holy Spirit, the Forgotten God, is the subject throughout the Acts of the Apostles. That is, Acts is the story of the Holy Spirit working through and in the believers, the early church and the church throughout the ages. After the Pentecost event, the gospel message spread to Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth.
Peter, John and the apostles were ordinary uneducated people (Acts 4:13). All the figures recorded in the Acts of the Apostles are ordinary people bearing witness to Jesus' death and resurrection. God is using ordinary people for his extraordinary task, equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit.
An emboldened witness
I remember when I was on my way to my first mission trip to Lampung, South Sumatra, back in 1997. I was so moved by the desire to be a witness, as I just ended my class on Evangelism Explosion in that day.
One of my friends and I decided to take a 10-day trip to visit churches in Lampung to learn and explore anything about ministry. We were just so excited for God.
We went by bus for several hours, the continued our trip by ship. During the two hours we stayed on the ship, I was praying, “Lord please give me an opportunity to be able to meet a person with whom I can share about You.”
While I was walking and praying I saw one man sitting down by himself, having dinner. It was around midnight, but I asked permission to sit beside him. He smiled and said ok. So, I began a conversation.
I asked, “Sir, I know you are a police officer, and I just want to ask, have you ever shot a person?”
He became quiet and said yes.
Not stopping there, I asked again, “Have you ever killed people during your tasks?”
He suddenly bowed his head and said yes.
What gave me – just a student in university who was excited to share about Jesus – such courage to ask those question to a police officer? It was the Holy Spirit.
That night, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, I shared the gospel of peace to this police officer. In the middle of the night, on that ship, I led the man to accept Jesus.
After our ship arrived in the harbour, and we need to say good bye to each other, I asked my last permission to him, “Did you bring a gun?” He said yes. “Can I touch it with my own hand?” He said sure…
I touched my arm to his pistol underneath his clothes, confirming what he said was true. I said, “God, You are awesome; it’s all about You and it’s not about me.”
Will we walk with the Holy Spirit today, and let the Holy Spirit do mighty works in us?
—Andi O. Santoso is general secretary of GKMI (Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia – one of three Indonesian Mennonite churches). This testimony is adapted from The Holy Spirit and Mission by Andi O. Santoso, published in Berita GKMI (GKMI News), May 2016.
This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier October 2018.