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A warm virtual hello to my brothers and sisters in Christ

A warm virtual hello to my brothers and sisters in Christ

You might probably wonder, who is this random gal named Joy whose name suddenly appear on your screen. I sincerely hope that you’ll take a minute to hear my heart. When Ko Sam called me one night to ask me to serve in the woman task force, I immediately asked him, “What exactly is my job?” Well thankfully, ko Sam is a straight forward guy, so he simply said to me, “You will be able to write and have access to women through letters, writings, and articles about God”. When I hear the word “access”, I was sold. 

You see, all my life, I have never dreamed of “leading” anything fancy. I’m not an organized person (I’m lucky to find complete pairs of socks and clean masks for my kids to get out the door on Mondays). I’m not good with planning and logistics. Most of my days, I am buried with work, laundry, meals, breaking off my children’s silly fights, and being my husband’s biggest cheerleader. (He’s my rockstar and they’re my everything!). However, no matter how busy my life gets, I can’t seem to shake this strong desire in my heart to connect, have “access” to, and to build genuine, “walk-through-fire-together” kind of sisterhood around me. 

In these 38 years of my life, I have realized, that I just want to be a sister more than anything in my life. I find myself clearing out my calendar immediately whenever my sister(s) needed to talk on the phone, take a walk, or simply have coffee with me. It has been one of my biggest satisfactions in life to see my sisters in Christ THRIVE, find their passions in life, find Godly husbands, and become a Jesus-loving and prayerful mothers to their children. I truly want to be that person who believes in you when nobody else does.  My great desire is to be an encourager, a prayer warrior, and the one who you call first whenever you receive a breakthrough after our series of prayers. 

So here I am, showing up as a caption under one of IFGF’s super cool graphic. Even though I cannot sit with you in person, I hope you can see my writing as our coffee dates through the screens. In the next few years, I am so thrilled that I get to speak life to you and share my own journey with Christ. I will share the good, the ugly, the war stories, the victories, and the silly bloopers in between. I sincerely hope that it can encourage you in one way or another. Never think of these writings as a one-way street, because I am just an email/ text away with any prayer requests you have!

So let me begin our journey with my story.

2021 came to me like a huge truck hitting me from my blind side. I honestly did not see that truck coming. I started this year with so much clarity. I continued IFGF corporate fasting from January well until the month of March. I took a break from social media all those months and I could hear God’s voice audibly like my dad’s voice talking through the phone. I have never been so on fire for the Lord. I was hitting my city’s streets and local hospitals for prayer walks. We went door to door to invite people to IFGF Seattle’s Easter service. I was praying for people on the porch (masked and socially distanced), and I got to witness one of my best friends received Christ during one of these porch visits.

And then April 2021 came, and a phone call came out of nowhere. I guess it’s true when they say, we only need a phone call, a doctors diagnose, a bad business report to turn our worlds upside down. My aunt’s voice on the other side of the line was trembling as she told me that her husband, my dearest uncle in Oregon had his liver burst as he was trying to put on his shoes. He was currently being air lifted to a hospital in Portland to see doctors who could potentially save his life. I remember vividly that we immediately dropped everything we did and prayed for him. He was our fun uncle. The one who bought a giant bag of Cheetos for my kids, just because. The one who always had a magic trick up his sleeves to entertain his grand nieces and nephews. A few hours later, a phone call came in again. The paramedics had done everything they could to preserve his life to no avail. And just like that, my fun uncle was gone.

We were not done grieving, processing as a family, and planning his memorial service, when we got an email from my daughter’s teacher. One of her classmates was positive with COVID and there was a potential spread in her cluster. When we asked her, “Hey Ally, are you in the same group of friends with this person? Do you play with her during recess?”, she answered with all confidence, “No, mommy!” Phew! We all sighed in relief. She then continued, “But she sits right behind me”. Shoulders dropped; I exchanged nervous looks with my husband. True enough, we all tested positive in the next few days. YES! All five of us, including our then Kindergartener. The next few days were dark, with the five of us curling under the blanket, attending our uncle’s memorial service virtually since we obviously could not go.

By the grace of God, the five of us got healed around the same time despite my husband’s brief hospitalization due to Covid Pneumonia. The Lord has been so faithful and He heard our cries. When we recovered, we all took holy communion as a family to rededicate our lives to God. I thought the storms have passed and it was time to “go back to normal”. But boy was I wrong. In no time, summer came along and the kids were out of school. Around this time, the Covid case in Jakarta sky rocketed and we heard death news left and right from our dearest friends and family. On the last week of June, I received a WhatsApp text from my mom that my beloved, most cherished, closest to my soul 88 years old grandpa was sick. My family tested him as soon as possible and our worst nightmare came to a reality. He was COVID positive. This was one of our greatest fears because of his age as well as his diabetic and comorbid condition.

A little bit about grandpa. I grew up spending summers in his backyard in Semarang chasing Bruno the dog. I could still smell my grandma’s soup simmer as grandpa took us up to his roof to watch sunsets and shared about his life. He always had the funniest stories, the kinds that made us snort through our noses laughing. He always took us to this local ice cream shop and when we were all sugar high, he would let us jump on his bed until we were knocked out completely. He let us be kids. He was definitely one of my favorite persons growing up. His face was the first thing I look for in Soekarno-Hatta whenever I flew home from Seattle. Up until today, as a grown 38 years old woman, we still text each other almost every day, sending photos and “I miss you” sentiments. He called us “dear” and he did love all of us so fiercely. My last text to him was, “Engkong harus tau, engkong kesayangan Joy ya. Tuhan Yesus sayang engkong. Engkong harus sembuh ya” “Grandpa, please know that I love you so much. Jesus loves you. You have to get healed soon!” That message was left unread until today. I still have fresh tears in my eyes as I type these words. 

About a few days into my grandpa’s hospitalization, July 4th 2021, around 7 PM. The same aunt who called me last April to have me pray for my uncle, called me again to tell me that this time, her one and only son was in a critical condition. My cousin Justin ALSO caught COVID unexpectedly after settling the matters for his dad’s funeral in Oregon. His 42 years old body could not handle the complication from the virus and my aunt had to take him off life support. My cousin went to be with Jesus that day at around 7.20 PM. Within 4 months, my aunt lost both her husband and son.

Still trying to recover from our shock, around 9 PM that day, I watched “The Chosen” with my family as they tried to comfort me. Grandpa was on ventilator already and in a very critical condition. Despite their thoughtful gesture to console me, I told my husband and kids that I needed to be by myself. I went up to my room, turned off all the lights, and laid on the floor with my face on the ground. I think the whole neighborhood could hear me wail. There in the dark, I cried out to Jesus, “Please, Lord, don’t take my grandpa. Give me another chance to see him. I need to hug him one more time. Not him, not now!” In between my tears, I saw a vision of a little girl holding a red balloon. She held on to it so tight and she refused to let go. And then slowly but vividly, I saw Jesus. He was so radiant with love, gentleness, and kindness. He kneeled down in front of that little girl who turned out to be me. He said gently, “Joy, you are not letting him go for nothing. You are letting him go for Me. I have been waiting for him for 40 years, and now I get to see him in person. I have a lot to catch up with him. You will be fine” 

And with that, the little girl let go of that red balloon. 

Strangely, I felt peace. 

I knew in my heart, that it was the day that Grandpa will be with Jesus.

True enough. A few hours later, the ICU unit called me. “I’m so sorry mam, we did everything we can. Grandpa’s heart beat stopped at 1.15 PM Jakarta time”. I told the nurse, “I already know”. 

Friends, the part that I have not mention to you is this: We have been praying for my grandpa’s salvation for the past 40 years! He was a strong Buddhist, and he has made it clear to us, “When I am in my death bed one day, DO NOT invite any pastors. I know you Christians like to “ambush” us to received Jesus towards the end of our lives. DO NOT do that!” He was so sure that he was about to die as a Buddhist. 


Just one week before he passed away, right before going to the hospital, my mom asked gently if he wanted to receive Jesus as his personal Lord and savior. Grandpa said yes. He recited the sinner’s prayer from A-Z. My mom got to see him in the last moments of his life, and his last words was “Jesus, help me” or in Indonesian language, “Yesus tolong!”

Friends, let me ask you these honest questions. What happen when life sucker punches you out of nowhere, and knocks the breath out of you? What happen when we did not see that “truck” coming from our blind side? A bad report, a COVID positive test, a sudden death of family member.

I don’t know what you have to go through or let go this year; what is your “red balloon”. It might be the death of a dear friend, a beloved relative, or close family members. It might be a loss of your business or the job you hold on to so dearly. It might be a friendship you have built for years and years. It might be your freedom and routine as you homeschool your kids in this season. It might be bad news from the doctor or business partner.

Whatever we lost this year…friends, please know that we are not letting go of our “red balloon” for nothing.  Jesus is near. He kneels down next to our pain. He always has. Without realizing it, we are gaining something DEEPER in our spirit. The tangible presence of Jesus when we are at our lowest. A deep understanding of His unconditional love for us. The perspective of eternity. The warm embrace of our community when we’re grieving. The fact that Jesus never left our side, not even for a minute. 

I still don’t have all the answers to God’s mystery of our pain and suffering in 2021. And to be brutally honest with you, I am still trying to pick up the shattered pieces of my heart as I try to carry on in this race. These many losses have left a “bruise” in my spirit.

However, my sisters, I DO know these two things:

  1. It is okay to be not okay. As leaders, Christians, moms, we are expected to always be strong and collected. But the truth is, even Jesus wept. He lost his cool when he lost a dear friend. Jesus was a man of sorrow. Sweat came out of his forehead like blood when he was in deep distress Jesus was fully man, so he understands how we feel. He is near to us when we feel crushed and broken hearted.
  1. This year’s theme SPEAK SO LOUD in my heart, because there IS a reason why we are still ALIVE here on planet earth. As long as we still have breath in our lungs, God is not done with us yet, and we got assignments to do. 

I relate so much with David’s personal journal in Psalms 73:21-28
“When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered. I was senseless and ignorant. I was a brute beast before you”
“Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel and afterward You will take me to glory. (There is glory after all these sufferings). Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You! My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD IS THE STRENGTH OF MY HEART AND MY PORTION FOREVER. 
As for me. It is good to be near God.”
We might not know all the answers now. 
We might still feel the waves of sadness coming in and out of our chest.
We might still struggle with fear and anxiety.
But as for now, it is good to be near Him.

Jesus kneels. 
Jesus wept. 
Jesus whispers.
…and He holds us by our right hand. 
That’s all we need to know, and that’s enough. 

Praying for all of you,
Joy (IFGF Women Global Coordinator)


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