Iwan Seciady shares his story with us. He mentioned about 1998 riot. I believe many of you who live in Jakarta/Indonesia can relate to it and remember how hard was the struggle all of us had at that time. May his story be a blessing to you.
Iwan Seciady, Jakarta - Indonesia
Teacher at UPH College
First of all, I was born in a Chinese family that held a system of belief of Confucianism. I was a part of the family culture, although my parents didn’t really force that system of belief to me. Then I entered into a Catholic School and remained until I finished high school in Regina Pacis High school. Thus, I became familiar with Jesus Christ and Christianity.
However, as time went by, I didn’t really feel the need for a savior. I was an agnostic. At the same time, in my junior and high school years I thought of many things and about matters that actually needed big answers (e.g. For what purpose is existence? Where did man come from? Etc.). I felt the need for these questions to be addressed for the sake of my own existence so that I could stand solidly. In those years, I was also experiencing a big crisis. The 1998 riot and economic crisis that changed everything in my family. Scarcity of resources, my father went bankrupt and had no job, my family had to sell everything that we had – house, cars, etc., and my parents fought. It seemed like an endless pain.
In that moment, a friend of mine in high school invited me to a church, and I ended up enjoying the service and friendships. As good as it seemed though, I still considered Jesus as just a man, a holy man indeed, and one that no other can be – I mean, innocent and yet did not complain under unjust treatment, and patiently endured the blows, the beatings, and the curses of others. Until one day, when I couldn’t continue my education and had to rely on everything that I could grasp, doing any kind of work just so I would not feel hopeless.
Then my friend, who was in the Universitas Pelita Harapan, told me all about a scholarship program at the Teachers' College. I was excited and prepared everything just to get a degree. Yet, God got me another plan, slowly but sure in my 1st semester and 2nd semester, those questions that were hanging in my head about God and Christianity began to be answered through reading theological books, lectures, and sermons. I was rebuked by my old church for getting my head over ‘faith’ too much, because I was questioning the doctrines and all. James Riady, the founder of UPH, and Connie Rasilim, the Dean of TC, had an immense impact to the early phase of my college years. This newfound urge to follow God got intense, until one day my mom passed away in April 2008 due to TB, six months before my 2nd semester at TC UPH. That time, I cried, and instantly realized how weak, how fragile, and how utterly useless man is outside of God’s care.
I believed with all of my heart what God through John 14: 6 says, that no one could come to God except through Christ! And that only in Christianity that God seeks man, and not the other way around. We cannot save ourselves, and only with God’s grace that we may come to know the One True God! I had searched many religions, I studied Confucianism, Buddhism, Islam, Kabbalah, many psychological theorists and philosophies, and yet only in Christ I found my solace, that me , a person utterly sinful can be accepted by God!
Other religions rely on self and good works, but how good can we be? When we are always self-centered and cannot be free from ourselves? Therefore, in Christ I found myself and I realized all along that every single thing that happened to me, my pain, my experience, hardships, it happened so that I would be saved by God’s grace! It was His plan all along!
Even after I believed, God was still working in me. He shaped me through many people. In June 2008, I served in a campus organization – MYC (Mission Youth for Christ) as a Student Supervisor for the campus residence for the rest of my college years (2008-2011). I met Dr. Eric Jobiliong who was one of the Dorm Masters back then and he shaped me through Christian leadership. I also learned the value of Christian manhood and principles from the MYC Director, Stephen L. Metcalfe. During those years, I also met this firm, intelligent, and faithful servant of God that strongly emphasized to me the core value of Christian education, Ferry Yang, one of UPH lecturers and at that time also one of the leaders in MYC. So, until I finished my Bachelor education, God had been kind to me, lifting me up from a dark place of ignorance to the high ground of His light and love.
Right now, I am still serving in MYC and also serving as one of Social Studies teacher in UPH College (a college program for Universitas Pelita Harapan). This is my fourth year and I believe that God will keep developing my capacity to lead Christianly in the field of education, working and ministering His Good News and spreading His Gospel that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
-For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, to whom be the glory, Amen!-
Romans 11: 36