The power of hospitality and relationships in mission

In December 2023, the Integrated Mennonite Church (IMC) of the Philippines’ Mission Services Department sent a team of pastors for a one-month learning tour in Indonesia with Gereja Injili Tanah Jawa (GITJ) and Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI) churches. 

“We’ve had a partnership with GITJ Mission Commission and PIPKA* (the mission agency) of GKMI since 2005,” said Richard A. Rancap, IMC mission services department director. “We collaborate in training young people for mission and discipleship.  

“As this training partnership continued, the leaders felt the need to also prepare pastors and church leaders who have never had the experience in another country to expand their perspective.” 

In 2017 and 2018, GITJ sent three pastors to the Philippines, where they preached, taught, visited and prayed for the sick, and participated in school ministries and sharing their testimonies. “They also cooked us Indonesian food!” said Richard Rancap. 

Visiting the Philippines broadened their perspective about faith, life and the mission of the church, the pastors say. There haven’t been any other visits since then (due to the pandemic) until December 2023 when a group of four pastors from IMC visited GITJ and GKMI churches in Indonesia, visiting both Jakarta and some towns in Central Java. 

Christ-like character 

In Jakarta, they stayed at the house of GKMI moderator Agus Mayanto, who is also MWC’s regional representative for Southeast Asia.  

“We saw how he and his wife fostered many university students from outside of Jakarta, discipling them and training them up as missional leaders while they were studying for their chosen career,” Richard Rancap said.  

“We also met with PIPKA leaders, who stated that discipleship is not a program, but a continuous commitment to building relationships and mentoring others where we embody Christ-like character. This was a new perspective for us.” 

The power of hospitality 

From Jakarta, the team journeyed on to Central Java, where they were hosted by several GITJ families. “It was nearing Christmas day when we got there, and the weather was very hot. But the hospitality of our GITJ hosts was so refreshing. In Central Java, we really saw the impact of GITJ’s hospitality, humanity and commitment to relationships on their communities,” Braian Carasco said. 

To begin with, Bishop Jomedes Eusebio noticed the Christmas celebrations were open to people of all faiths. “Sometimes the Christmas event was held outside of the church to cater for more people.” 

“In one instance, a community elder who doesn’t usually talk or greet the Christian minority was invited to the church to light a peace candle during a Christmas event. He showed up and participated, and afterwards he said to the church pastor that he was happy to have participated in an event filled with songs, dances, delicious food and sermon. That night, everyone went home with a joyful heart,” said Richard Rancap. 

“We felt that GITJ’s relationship with their neighbours is an example of Jesus’  prayer, ‘that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (John 17:21),” said Bishop Rufino Mateo. 

He says the life of the church extends beyond the church building and into the community. “They live their lives with humility, in harmony with others.” 

Partnership is the way forward 

Upon the return, Richard Rancap commented, “We realize we are a small church conference. But we have a role in fulfilling the Great Commission – we have a gift, and other churches have different gifts. The best way to move forward is in partnership with others, as in Romans 1:12 (ESV), ‘that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.’ In walking with others, we learn each other’s best practices and our burdens become lighter.” 

“We also learn by visiting other churches that God works in so many ways. We learn to put aside our pride and listen to new ideas. Both GITJ and GKMI showed us that as followers of Christ, they humbled themselves and serve others in their communities, just like Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. It was a moving experience,” said Richard Rancap. 

* PIPKA (Pekabaran Injil dan Pelayanan Kasih) 

*Today, there are three Anabaptist-Mennonite groups in Indonesia: 

  • Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (GITJ –Evangelical Church in the Land of Java) 
  • Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia (GKMI –Muria Christian Church of Indonesia) 
  • Jemaat Kristen Indonesia (JKI –Indonesian Christian Congregation)