Tag Archives: Hendy Matahelemual

Waiting for Heaven’s “Green Card”

(Baca dalam bahasa Indonesia)

by Hendy Matahelemual, Conference Pastor of Formation & Communication

Judah, Hendy’s oldest son at Wall Street, NYC. Photo by Hendy Matahelemual.

One day I asked my 6-year-old son, “Are you Indonesian or American?” He answered, “Both, Daddy, I’m American and also Indonesian.” This is a reasonable response. However, in terms of citizenship, he is not an American citizen, but an Indonesian because we cannot have dual citizenship.

National and political identity cannot be separated in human life. Even when someone leaves the land of their birth or changes citizenship, that identity is still attached. As a newcomer to the USA and as a seminary student, I am interested in learning how we place national and political identities in line with God’s Word.

Hendy and his wife, Marina at tje Indonesian Fair in Little Indonesia, Somersworth, NH. Photo courtesy of icc.inc

I have no problem with national identity, but we must be careful not to go too far into ultra-nationalism, where someone puts the interests of a country and its people above all things. This certainly makes the country at the same level or higher than God. Therefore, as followers of Jesus, we believe that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  We rely on God and do not deify the state, citizenship status, or even certain political parties or political figures.

Article 23 of the Confession of Faith in Mennonite Perspective, states:

We believe that the church is God’s “holy nation,” called to give full allegiance to Christ its head and to witness to all nations about God’s saving love. The church is the spiritual, social, and political body that gives its allegiance to God alone. As citizens of God’s kingdom, we trust in the power of God’s love for our defense. The church knows no geographical boundaries and needs no violence for its protection. The only Christian nation is the church of Jesus Christ, made up of people from every tribe and nation, called to witness to God’s glory.

It is common today for someone to rely on the state to give us prosperity, security, and comfort. In most countries, we are taught to sing the national anthem and other patriotic activities. Therefore it is very important that we return to Paul’s words in Romans 12, “Do not be conformed to this world but change with renewal of your mind, so that you understand my will, which is good, pleasing and perfect.”

Flags of nations at St.John Baptist Church Philadelphia where ILC worships every Sunday. Photo by Hendy Matahelemual

As someone who was not born and raised in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, I feel that I have experienced a new birth in Jesus because I used to misplace my national identity. But now, I am sure that my identity is as a citizen of heaven, and every believer is a co-worker without being limited by national and political identity. As a result, it should not be an exaggerated problem if someone kneels when the national song is sung. And, it should be a big concern for us if there is a problem happening in another country. Because as Christians, we are a holy nation that belongs to God.

A sculpture by French artist Bruno Catalano, in Marseilles, France, is an enigmatic sculpture thought to evoke memories and parts of themselves that every traveler inevitably leaves behind when they leave home for a new shore.

Let’s continue to persevere in our faith, especially in these difficult times. I believe God’s grace is endless.  Love, joy, and peace from God will cure our longing for our hometown, which will also fill the emptiness of our heart. This will convince us of our true identity, as God’s children, heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.

I also hope that the topic of national and political identity is no longer a taboo topic to be discussed in churches. I believe that each of our voices needs to be able to build up one another, and strengthen the church of God, a holy nation that is spread throughout the world.  After all, we are all still waiting for heaven’s greencard.

(Credentialed leaders: join us May 6 or 7 as our quarterly Faith & Life gatherings focus on National & Political Identity.  Learn more and register HERE.)

Welcome Asher Jermaine Matahelemual

Asher was born Monday, March 23 to Marina and Hendy Matahelemual. (Hendy is our conference Pastor of Formation & Communication.)  All are doing well.  Asher will join big brothers Judah and Levi at home in Philadelphia. We celebrate new life in the midst of a time of turmoil. Grace, peace, joy and strength to Hendy, Marina, and the boys in these days ahead.

Telah lahir Asher Jermaine Matehelemual pada hari Senin 23 Maret,bayi dari Marina dan Hendy Matehelemual. (Hendy adalah Pastor di conference untuk bagian Formation & Communication ). Mereka semua sehat dan baik. Asher menjadi adik bagi Judah dan Levi di dalam rumah mereka di Philadelphia. Di tengah situasi sulit seperti sekarang ini, kita tetap bersyukur akan kehidupan baru ini. Damai, sukacita dan sejahtera menyertai Hendy, Marina dan anak anak mereka di masa mendatang.

Asher Jermaine Matahelemual được sinh ra vào thứ Hai, ngày 23 tháng 3 năm 2020 đến Marina và Hendy Matahelemual.  (Hendy là mục sư trong giáo hội của chúng ta Mục sư thành lập và truyền thông.) Tất cả đều khỏe mạnh. Asher sẽ gặp mặt hai anh lớn Judah và Levi tại nhà ở Philadelphia. Chúng tôi chúc mừng cuộc sống mới ở trong một thời kỳ hỗn loạn này. Ân điển, bình an, niềm vui và sức mạnh ở cùng Hendy, Marina và các chàng trai trong những ngày sắp tới.

Asher Jermaine Matahelemual nació el lunes 23 de marzo, hijo de Marina y Hendy Matahelemual. (Hendy es pastor de formación y comunicación en nuestra conferencia). A todos les está yendo bien. Asher se unirá a sus hermanos mayores Judah y Levi en su casa en Filadelfia. Celebramos una nueva vida en medio de una época de agitación. Gracia, paz, alegría y fortaleza para Hendy, Marina y los niños en estos días por venir.

Refleksi aktif / Reflection on Renewing Nations and Generations

(scroll for English)

Cerita hidup kita lebih dari sekedar cerita, ada sesuatu yang lebih dalam dari cerita kita. Cerita hidup kita membentuk identitas kita dan identitas kita menentukan misi kita dalam hidup. Kalau kita tidak memiliki cerita, kita tidak memiliki identitas yang solid. Banyak gereja imigran kehilangan fokus dan misi karena mereka tidak mengetahui cerita dan latar belakang mereka. Hal ini diutarakan oleh Sue Park-Hur dalam sesi equipping Renewing Nations and Generations ke dua di Norristown New Life.

Selama pengalaman saya menjadi pastor gereja imigran di Amerika, budaya imigran terutama dari Asia memiliki kultur rasa malu (shaming culture). Ada banyak luka, kekecewaan, dan kepahitan yang dipendam dan tidak mengalami kesembuhan. Dan hal ini menyebabkan banyak gereja mengalami stagnasi baik dalam segi spiritual maupun pelayanannya. Saya pribadi percaya bahwa di dalam keterbukaan ada sebuah pemulihan, tetapi problem kultur rasa malu inilah yang membuat seseorang sulit untuk menjadi terbuka. Sue juga mengatakan, “Luka yang tidak sembuh akan ditransfer kepada generasi berikutnya.”

Sebagai imigran ada sebuah trauma dan luka tersendiri yang kita alami ketika kita berpindah dari sebuah budaya atau lingkungan di mana kita dibesarkan ke sebuah budaya atau lingkungan yang berbeda. Hal ini terjadi dalam migrasi yang sukarela maupun karena terpaksa. Dimulai dari orang kulit putih, hitam, coklat, Hispanic/Latinos sampai Asia kita semua adalah imigran di tanah Amerika ini. Dan setiap budaya memiliki trauma tersendiri yang sangat unik sejak pertama kali menginjakkan kaki di tanah ini. Dan trauma-trauma ini akan ditransfer kepada generasi berikutnya jika tidak pulih.

Pertama kali saya datang ke Amerika, saya heran ternyata tension antara orang kulit putih dan hitam masih ada, dalam benak saya hal tersebut sudah hilang dan selesai ketika Martin Luther King Jr melakukan civil rights movement, atau bahkan ketika Obama menjadi presiden, ternyata trauma tersebut belum hilang, dan dampaknya masih ada sampai dengan sekarang. Juga bagaimana imigran Asia dan Hispanic pun memiliki permasalahan  tersendiri, racial slur antara imigran Asia dan Hispanic pun masih sering saya dengar. Ketakutan orang Asia dengan orang kulit hitam, semua memiliki cerita konflik tersendiri. Stereotype demi stereotype kian bermunculan. Dan terjadilah ajang saling menyakiti satu sama lain, dan setiap budaya membangun temboknya masing-masing untuk melindungi diri. Hurt people, hurt people.

Tetapi pada minggu lalu dalam acara Renewing Nations and Generations banyak pemimpin mayoritas global/Kulit berwarna Franconia Conference, diingatkan bahwa kita semua adalah produk dari masa lalu, produk dari sistem dunia yang korup dan tidak adil. Pada acara ini kami belajar bahwa kami semua mempunyai pilihan untuk berubah, sembuh, bertransformasi menjadi kita yang baru. Dan berita baiknya adalah darah Yesus sudah tercurah dan kasih karunia sudah cukup bagi kita semua bagi kita yang percaya dan mau berubah menjadi lebih baik. Tetapi kita pun tahu bahwa hal ini hanya bisa terjadi ketika kita mau saling jujur, terbuka dan percaya satu sama lain, membangun hubungan yang meruntuhkan semua tembok stereotype dan membiarkan Yesus memulihkan kedua ujung jembatan.

Ini adalah sebuah awal dari proses pemulihan dan transformasi kita, kita menyadari bahwa jalan masih Panjang, tetapi kita percaya dengan komitmen, tekad dan kerjasama kita semua bisa menghilangkan rasisme, dan menjadikan perbedaan sebagai sebuah kekayaan yang bisa gunakan bersama-sama untuk saling bertransformasi menjadi ciptaan baru dan saya percaya hal inilah yang menjadikan Kerajaan Surga turun diatas muka bumi ini. Saatnya berbagi cerita hidup bersama sama yang meruntuhkan tembok dan membangun jembatan.

The story of our lives is more than just a story – there is something deeper. Our life stories shape our identity and our identity determines our mission in life. If we don’t have a story, we don’t have a solid identity. Many immigrant churches lose their focus and mission because they do not know their story and background. This was stated by Sue Park-Hur in the second equipping Renewing Nations and Generations session at Norristown New Life on Friday, November 1.

During my experience as a pastor of immigrant churches in America, immigrant culture, especially from Asia, has a shaming culture. There are many wounds, disappointments, and bitterness that are buried and are not healing, and this has caused many churches to experience stagnation both in terms of spirituality and ministry. I personally believe that in openness there is recovery, but it is this shame culture problem that makes it difficult for someone to be open. Sue also said, “Wounds that don’t heal will be transferred to the next generation.”

As immigrants there is a trauma and injury that we experience when we move to a different culture or environment from where were raised. This occurs in voluntary and forced migration. From white, black, brown, Hispanic/Latinos to Asian people, most of us are immigrants in this American land. Every culture has its own trauma that is very unique since it first set foot on this land. These traumas will be transferred to the next generation if they do not recover.

The first time I came to America, I was surprised that the tension between white and black people was still there; in my mind, it was gone and finished when Martin Luther King Jr. conducted a civil rights movement, or even when Obama became president.  It turned out the trauma has not yet disappeared, and its effects are still present today. Asian and Hispanic immigrants also have their own problems; racial slurs between Asian and Hispanic immigrants are still often heard. Asian and black people all have their own conflict stories. Stereotypes are increasingly appearing. People from different cultures hurt each other, and each culture built its own wall as a defense mechanism. Hurt people, hurt people.

But last week on the day of Renewing Nations and Generations, many Franconia global majority/people of color leaders were all reminded that we are all products of the past, products of a corrupt and unjust world system. In this program we learned that we all have the choice to change, recover, and transform into us. The good news is that the blood of Jesus was shed, and grace is enough for all of us who believe and want to change for the better. But we also know that this can only happen when we want to be honest, open and trusting with one another, building relationships that break down all stereotypical walls and allow Jesus to restore both ends of the bridge.

This is the beginning of our recovery and transformation process – we realize that the road is still long, but we believe that our commitment, determination and cooperation can eliminate racism, and make diversity a treasure that can be used to transform each other into new creations. I believe this will allow the Kingdom of Heaven to descend upon this earth. It’s time to share stories of living together with those who tear down walls and build bridges.

At Home, Far from Home

By Jennifer Svetlik, Salford congregation

“Even though I am far away from my home, I feel like I am home. I feel welcome and encouraged as I learn from the Franconia Conference culture and work with people from different backgrounds. We have a sense of unity and community here,” says Hendy Stevan Matahelemual, Franconia Conference’s Pastor of Formation and Communication.

Hendy in one of his favorite places: the desert!

Hendy was raised in Bandung, Indonesia, 100 miles south of the capital, Jakarta. He was educated in law and for nearly 10 years he worked in a law office as well as the music entertainment industry. After Hendy found Christ in his community, he was baptized again and made a commitment to dedicate his life to God. In 2008 he started volunteering in his church, Elshaddai Creative Community, in music ministry and leading a cell group. He got married to his wife Marina, got a promotion in his job, and felt ready to settle down. 

“My hometown is a nice city up in the mountains with great weather. Ever since I was born I always expected to stay in Bandung,” Hendy describes. 

But after the transformation in his spiritual life, Hendy felt that God wanted him to move from his city. He prayed to God to understand this feeling and had a sense that he might be called to move to Jakarta to plant a church with other members of his cell group. 

While he was still praying about it, Marina came home one day after her work as a secretary in their church, where she learned from their pastor that an Indonesian pastor in New York City was seeking someone to help do ministry there. “Well let’s go then,” Hendy replied, mostly joking. But later their pastor invited Hendy to seriously consider the idea. 

Hendy and Marina accepted this calling, and Hendy resigned from his job working in the entertainment business. But unexpectedly, for two years in a row, his visa to come to the U.S. was rejected. Patiently he worked as a pastor in their church in Bandung until his visa was finally approved. 

Hendy, Levi, Marina and Judah on a winter road trip to New Hampshire

For over two years Hendy was a pastor at Bethany Church in Queens, also providing counseling and community outreach. Hendy became acquainted with staff and pastors within Franconia Conference and began studies at Eastern Mennonite University toward an MA in Christian Leadership, which he received earlier this year. Hendy received a call to serve as the pastor of Indonesian Light Church in south Philadelphia. So Hendy, his wife Marina and their two children, Judah and Levi, moved once again. 

Hendy has also served in his conference role since May and helps to plan worship services for conference-wide events, shares stories through articles and creating videos, and supports the Conference’s social media work. Hendy is part of the new Youth Formation Team, coordinating events that offer training and resources to youth leaders and youth ministers, and he’s also a member of the Faith and Life Committee, which gathers credentialed leaders together quarterly for theological reflection and dialogue.

Additionally, Hendy serves on the conference’s Intercultural Team which provides training and resources for intercultural formation. “Revelation 7:9 provides a vision of what God wants us to be as a church,” Hendy shares. The scripture says, “There was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Hendy says that this and other scriptures provide encouragement and a biblical base for how the church can grow and learn from each other, as people of different cultures. 

“This is complicated work; in a conference that is predominantly white, recognizing that every group has its own dominant culture at work, to redefine norms together so that every culture can have a voice, and that each church’s expression of loving God, loving people, and serving the community is lifted up,” Hendy says. 

Hendy has found the mutual transformation of his intercultural work to be a rewarding part of his Conference ministry, as he and colleagues “work together as the family of Christ, even though we come from different backgrounds.”

Hendy is excited to continue to grow in his ministry with Franconia Conference. In his spare time, he enjoys sports, swimming, and going on road trips. Recently, his family drove to MC USA Convention in Kansas City from South Philly—a 17-hour drive! 


Five Signs of Hope in a 300 Year Old Community

by Stephen Kriss, Executive Minister

At our board retreat last week, our California-based consultant, Jeff Wright, suggested that we are living in a time when we often say, “that hasn’t happened before.”  For a 300 year old Conference community to contend with rapid changes requires flexibility and nimbleness that isn’t always characteristic of mature organizational systems.  However, we are more than an organization; we are the people of God.  This is both a challenge and a hope in times where change is rapid, confusing and often disorienting.  Here are five signs of change we haven’t seen before that give me hope and assure me that even though we don’t know a way, there is a way that the Spirit is working out for our ancient faith to thrive into the future.

  1. The summer ministry internship program that was envisioned by Souderton Mennonite Church pastor Tim Bentch and is staffed by Sarah Freeman from the Souderton congregation is giving opportunities for young adults from our Conference and Eastern District Conference to serve alongside their congregations and in nearby communities to extend the peace of Christ. This year’s group of women and one young man remind me that God is still calling and that opportunities to connect to each other are always around us no matter our neighborhood.
  2. In the last weeks, Bethany Church in Queens, New York officially requested membership with our Conference. We are in the midst of a teaching series on Global Anabaptism with the congregation and I had the privilege of preaching there last month on the centrality of Jesus.   The congregation’s pastor is a full-time Eastern Mennonite Seminary student, Hendy Matahelemual, who brings energy, passion and deep care.  If affirmed as a new member this fall, it will be our Conference’s first worshipping community in New York City.
  3. At our Conference Board Retreat, this past weekend, we spent time praying through the lists of our member churches, our Conference Related Ministries (CRMs) and our nearly 100 active credentialed leaders. Reading these lists reminds me of the gifted leaders, our diverse congregations, and the vibrant ministries that receive support and encouragement mutually through our life together.  It was a bit of an old school practice brought to new life with the diversity of who we are becoming, visible on paper.
  4. Franconia congregation pastor Josh Meyer’s recent doctoral research took a glimpse at the callings of millennial pastors in our Conference community. At this time across Mennonite Church USA, we have one of the highest percentages of younger pastors.  At the end of our morning time together, Josh invited us to pray with the millennial pastors who had gathered that morning at Perkiomenville Mennonite’s Christian Life Center.  The tenderness and care of our experienced pastors as they gathered around the five young pastors who were there was moving and beautiful.
  5. Next week a delegation from our Conference is spending time listening to the congregations in California who have sought to become new members of our Conference. We are seeking to spend some time together, to understand past wounds and to imagine new possibilities.  As we go, we will eat, listen, preach and continue to build on the relationships already established.  What might the Spirit be calling us toward as we consider these bi-coastal relationships?

There is growth and challenge across our Conference community these days.   A new thing is becoming; on a daily basis, I am increasingly aware of it.  At the same time, God’s intention is to continue the transformative work that Christ has done in each of us through these things that haven’t happened before.  There is new possibility, each day, for us to encounter the Risen Christ through the things that haven’t happened before in our world.  And there is assurance that there are things that will remain; faith, hope, love.