A gang of robber’s n thieves have been roaming the neighborhood for the last few months, leaving the Noelbaki’s residents feel rather unsafe especially at night. Somehow this gang must be working together with some of the locals, for in almost all incidents, government funds had just been received by the schools or offices, the injured had just received his wage, or had other funds stored temporarily at his home. While the residents were dreaming sweet dreams in a peaceful sleep, the robbers turned cupboards and desks upside down and inside out, taking with them any money found, hand pones electronics etc. Others were rudely awakened staring at a machete or gun pointed at their throat, not able to move, they lamely watched their house turn into a disaster. Even though both are traumatic, worse is that in some cases women and young girls were raped, leaving them scarred for life. Even though my husbands’ foster dad (who lives with us) is the “ kepala dusun” head of the village, the New Hope residence also got “visitors”. At about 3 o clock midnight, JIthro one of the New Hope boy’s woke up, cast a look at the clock, and through sleepy eyes figured it was already 5 o clock in the morning. NO use going back to sleep, he figured he would start early with his morning chore, leaving him some time to study yet before going to school. First a trip to the washroom for a splash of cold water on his face, on his way back, he saw 2 guys wandering around in a relaxed manner, inspecting the wash machine. Because they seemed so at ease, and thinking it was already 5 o clock, Jithro was not alarmed at all. He guessed that they were early morning visitors, waiting for Pastor Ed to get up as often happen. When he looked more closely however, he saw another guy trying to break into the New Hope office! That set the alarm bless ringing, and he called out;” Pencuri, Pencuri!!!” (thieves). I tell you, it works better than an alarm clock! In no time the New Hope household was on the chase! The burglars not wanting to be caught, took off their sandals and made a run for it, one of them even threw a huge stone at our boy’s missing their heads by a hair! Unfortunately they got away, but we are thankful that no one got hurt. In the following weeks many more cases were reported, and drastic measurements had to be taken. A schedule for night patrol was made and thanks to their alertness, four robbers were caught in the act. Through rigid investigation their network was uncovered, and safely locked away behind the bars. Millions of Rupiahs, hundreds of hand phones and a large amount of other electronics were found and restored to their rightful owners.
What is the cause of this wave of violence? Some say it is the time of the year, just before the harvest is ready, people are running out of rice, and therefore take to robbing. Others say it is a “gang” of people who are copying the ways of life in the big cities like Jakarta and expecially Surabaya where violence is a normal day to day occurrence. Either way, ultimately we know that it is human sinful nature going against God’s commandments. When the burglars were caught, they were locked up in the prison cell just across from the New Hope residence, at the local police station. They attracted a huge crowd of very angry Noelbaki residents, who would have loved to get a go at them with sticks and machetes. Our New hope children were also caught up in the excitement, and the boys were all talking about how they would teach them a lesson “IF” they got a change. Considering the terror that these gangsters have caused, it is understandable for this kind of emotion to be brought to the surface; does this however show a Christian attitude? When we sat down with the New Hope children to have a talk about revenge, they were all quiet when this question was asked. They knew the answer but….. it seems so right to “teach them a lesson”. Pastor Ed explained that indeed those kinds of things cannot go unpunished, and that it is the function of law and order to give place to that. This was the beginning of a long discussion we had, and from criminals we ended up talking about their upcoming exams. Jack and Domi will the Lord willing graduate from Senior and Junior high school this year, and have been preparing themselves for the upcoming national exams. In Indonesia, unless the school is certified, teachers from other schools will come in to take the examinations. The latter being the case at the school the New Hope kids attend. On the evening of the first day of their exams, I asked them how the exams went. Surprisingly I got all very optimistic answers such as : Oh, no problem, great, easy!! The reason I was so surprised was that predictions had it that only 40% would be able to pass the exams. Just jokingly I said: “you must have been cheating”! At this comment, the self assured look on their faces dropped, and they started to feel rather uncomfortable. I pressed a little further, and then they acknowledged that the teachers had been giving them the answers!! Obviously the no. 1 rule during examinations anywhere is: “no cheating” needless to say that I was surprised with their admit ion. Talking about this with their older “siblings’ who had gone through the examinations previous years, they all admitted that this is indeed very common. They also warned them that sometimes the teachers from other schools will purposely give the wrong answers, so that the school will have very low accreditation. When we explained to them that in this way they could never be proud of themselves whether they passed the exams, since the answers came from someone else, and the other way around, if they failed the exams, they would never know whether this is due to the wrong answers given or not? With tears in their eyes they promised that for the rest of the exams they would find the answers themselves!
We often hear people say; “little children, little problems, big children, big problems”. With 20 teenagers under our roof, we can identify with the feeling, it is definitely challenging at times for both children and the parents. It is so easy to let our emotions take control of our actions or to not take the time to explain problems and solutions from a biblical perspective with the excuse that: “We don’t have time” or “don’t know what to say”. We should however be aware that this is no valuable excuse for the Lord, who has given parents the task and responsibility to “train up our children in the ways of the Lord”. He also knows that we are limited in this task through our weaknesses and shortcomings, but that does not provide way for not talking and explaining to our children of how the Lord wants us to live a life pleasing to Him. It is a challenge, but at the same time realize how beautiful it is to see a child grow in the Lord. Please pray for the New Hope children that the Lord will continue to work in their hearts, please pray also for us parents, that we may receive wisdom, strength and patience to continue our task of raising children to His glory!