I had perhaps the best day of language school ever just last week.
I was talking with my Pelatih (teacher) and we got onto some random, unrelated subjects while talking. During this rabbit trail she told me this story.
There was a man who had died. While alive he had been of a different religion then Christianity. At his funeral, people had gathered and were paying their last respects. Suddenly in the middle of the affair, this man sat bolt upright. This was so startling that people started running away screaming in fright. The formerly dead man turned immediately to the closest person and asked, “Where is Jesus the Messiah?”
The man who had been asked answered that Jesus was a prophet of God who had been dead a long time.
“No He’s not! I just saw Him!” replied the man.
Later, the man who had been dead met with a pastor and shared this experience:
He found himself in a small boat that was being paddled by two people in all white toward an island that was absolutely beautiful. It was so beautiful that it in fact glowed with light. One of the people in white told the man not to touch the water. (Normally, Indonesians love to splash their hands in the water on a boat ride because it is cooling and feels nice.) The man looked at the water and realized it was made of fire. There were people in the water, and Satan as well.
After they arrived at the island, the two people in white took the man to a house. The house was made of gold, and had huge paving stones made of gems. It was obviously the house of a rich person. The two people took the man inside to the entry parlor or guest waiting room like most Indonesian houses have. The people in white told this man to wait because Jesus was coming to meet him. The man replied that Jesus had been dead a long time, and them people in white replied that no, Jesus was here and wanted to meet him.
The people in white left and returned with Jesus in a few minutes. The man tried to look at Jesus’ face, but it was too bright. He too was all in white.
“You can’t stay here,” said Jesus.
“Don’t make me leave. I want to stay here. I’ll cut the grass or wash the clothing. Just don’t make me leave!”
“No, you can’t stay for now, but you can come back,” replied Jesus.
“How will I know how to get here?” asked the man.
“Here is the key,” replied Jesus.
It was a cross. The man woke up then, at his own funeral, and asked the first person he saw, “Where is Jesus the Messiah?”
This story translates into Indonesian and specifically Javanese culture so well. The house was the perfect image of a rich person’s house. It was built in a familiar way for an Indonesian, with a front room for guests to sit in. The boat and the island represented home and yet paradise to an Indonesian. The man wanted to stay at the house as a servant, but Jesus gave him a key, a sign of belonging!
I walked away from that lesson with chills all over me. I had just heard a God story, and it showed me how much God loves each person. He intervened in this man’s life, chose him out and spoke to Him personally even after the man had died.
It was an beautiful reminder of how Jesus is not bound by culture, language, or ideals. He is not a white American only, though he understands me as well. He is Javanese and He knows and understands the Javanese culture better then I ever could. Perhaps if I let Him use me, He could show love to people through me in ways they’d understand.