Jakarta. An online interview with District Apostle Edy Isnugroho through the @nac.indonesia Instagram account, answering questions raised by young people, ministers, and brothers and sisters.
District Apostle Edy, can young New Apostolic Church be allowed to marry a couple outside the New Apostolic. If it is possible, how is the process?
If the partner is a moslem, that cannot be done in Indonesia. Unless the New Apostolic partner would converted to Islam first [or vice versa]. However, such conditions can be implemented abroad. If it is a marriage with a Christian partner, it can be done by asking for information and fulfilling administrative requirements for marriage in the Population and Civil Registration office. Once declared to meet the administrative requirements, they can ask for the blessing of marriage. In the New Apostolic Church, a couple from another church denomination can show a letter of statement from his/her native church or make a statement on the seal, to be blessed in the New Apostolic Church. For such a couple, I advise, that there should be a certainty that the New Apotolic couple will be given leniency to exercise his/her faith after marriage and he/she should be given the knowledge about how to care for children and so on.
During this pandemic can Holy Baptism and Holy Sealing be carried out? Also, can this year’s Confirmation be carried out?
Acts of sacraments cannot be administered during this pandemic, because we have not been able to attend church services and it is regarding the regulated health protocols. We want to follow the prescribed health protocol.
The Confirmation Blessing for the Southeast Asia District will take place next year according to the April 27 2020 2020 announcement.
What is the church or your personal opinion about LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)?
I want to answer this from the church’s perspective. In accordance with the Chief Apostle’s letter dated May 20, 2020, the priority of the church is to make the voice of the gospel heard: Christ invites us to accept our neighbor, regardless of his/her sexual orientation, and to love him/her as Christ loves us. This is a message that the Chief Apostle states strongly and clearly throughout the world. Christ’s love is not limited by the sexual orientation of our neighbors.
The LGBTI Association (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) wants that the New Apostolic Church to take a clear position about homosexuality based on the Bible. The District Apostles, in collaboration with the Apostles, are currently conducting a careful study of biblical texts relating to the position of women in creation, society, and the church. For the Chief Apostle, this seems to be a greater priority – after all, more than half of all New Apostolic Christians are women. At the same time, we continued our work on the issue of women in the ministry. Only after these themes have been tackled can we devote ourselves to an in-depth study of biblical texts relating to homosexuality. The Scriptural interpretation of homosexuality is often radically opposed. The Chief Apostle is worried that it will still take time for us to arrive at an interpretation accepted by all the Apostles.
… Because of their homosexuality, some ministers are asked to leave their ministries. While in other district churches they are ordained with full knowledge of the facts. The Chief Apostle only wants to remind us an important element in the concept of our ministry. Ministries are gifts that God has given to the church. God chooses servants according to the needs of the believers he will serve. It is up to the Apostle to ensure that the believers he plans to ordain will be accepted by the congregation. In the early church, the Apostles asked believers to appoint seven people who would be ordained Deacons (Acts 6: 1-6). In our day, this choice depends on local leaders (whether in the congregation or district), who act on behalf of – and for the benefit of – the congregation.
The position of the New Apostolic Church is clear at this point regarding to a marriage blessing for same-sex couples. According to our interpretation based on the Bible, the blessing of marriage can only be given to couples consisting of men and women. None of the theological arguments put forward to date has convinced us of the need to change our doctrine.
How to overcome boredom in serving God for young people/ministers. Are there any solutions?
I want to quote what is written in Colossians 3: 23-24. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” We realize that we serve God. Our motivation is love, as God has loved us. What is the result? Wage or rewards from God, the best Employer.
What does the church do as a form of transparency regarding to the offering money?
In accordance with GKBI Article Statute 10.2. “It is carried out by the Board Management, which is annually obliged to provide an Annual Financial Report that has been audited by the Public Accountant Office (PAO) at a Meeting of Representatives.” It is important to know the opinion of the PAO last year: “In our opinion, the attached financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the balance sheet of the NEW CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF INDONESIA on December 31, 2019, and their financial performance and cash flow for the year ending on that date, are in accordance with the Financial Accounting Standards of Entities Without Public Accountability (SAK ETAP/FASEWPA). Financial reports are also submitted to NAKI.
What are the ups and downs that you experience in serving God in Southeast Asia?
The pleasing thing is that I can visit throughout Southeast Asia, getting to know the brothers and sisters from diverse nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, customs; to have divine services, to serve, to study, to have prayers answered, to gather experience of faith, it is all eternal heavenly treasure. Then I can get close to the Chief Apostle and the Apostles. However, on the other hand family time becomes less, sometimes tired, even to have a risk of dying on the road, but I experience greater joy in the fulfilling this task.
What is the church’s perspective on ghosts? And can we meet again with our beloved ones who have gone before us?
Ghosts were known at the time God worked on earth. (Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49; Luke 24:37; Luke 24:39)
Yes, we can meet again with our beloved ones who have died. Now, in divine services, we are together, we just cannot see them. Later, when the sign is given, that is when the archangel cries out and the trumpet of God sounds, then the Lord Himself will come down from heaven and those who died in Christ will rise first (1 Thessalonians 4: 16, 17). After that, we who live, who are still living, will be raptured with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the sky. Thus we will be forever with the Lord.
It is often said: we have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus. What is redeemed ourselves / our sins?
According to the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church chapter 126.96.36.199, the fundamental content of the gospel is the grace, love, and reconciliation manifested in Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and He came to destroy the works of the Devil, to redeem mankind from the sin into which they had fallen and become entangled, and to liberate them from the claim of the Devil. Through His sacrifice, Jesus Christ opened the way to reconciliation with God, and the gate to eternal life, for mankind. Through His death and resurrection, He proved once and for all that He is Lord over death and the Devil. Mankind shares in this victory through faith (1 Corinthians 15: 57). God, in His love, wants to redeem people from sin and free them from mistakes.
How do we respond to global issues that we are often familiar with ‘conspiracy theories’?
I want to quote the statement of the psychologist John Grohol: conspiracy theories usually arise during times of uncertainty or after large-scale tragic events. The creators of conspiracy theory use whatever ideas they have to match the facts they want to believe. “And, often they use paranoia-based beliefs to convince others around them.” Conspiracy theorists are often a group of “ignorant”, introverted, and suspicious people. “Trusting conspiracy theories with strangers can provide a sense of belonging between them.”
In my opinion, instead of believing in conspiracy theories, which we then blame certain people for nothing, it is better to follow the Chief Apostle’s appeal: in this difficult situation, let us take root in Christ; We trust and love the Lord – maintain relationships with Him. The Lord will always find a special way to help those who love Him. God’s promise remains: everything – even the corona crisis – works together to bring good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). There is no crisis or misery whatsoever, which can prevent God from leading His people to the goal of glory. And we are helping governments that are struggling to overcome this pandemic crisis.
Regarding streaming divine services, there is a positive side where the church is now more open. But on the other hand there are obstacles for those who cannot access, or the ministers having difficulty visiting to provide pastoral care. How do you see this?
In this time of spiritual hunger, the Apostle ministry must continue to reach the children of God. The way we see the most appropriate at this time is through streaming divine services. Indeed there are obstacles, unable to reach all brothers and sisters in remote areas, where there is no internet signal. The solution is we provide audio recording. In places where there is no signal at all, we will send a copy of the Divine Service Guide. I invite all of you, let us address current obstacles with a positive attitude. Yes, we really miss the divine service. Let us place our trust in God – He always knows how to give those who love Him, what is very important for their salvation! He will also give the believers what they need that is not reached by the ministry of the Apostles.
District Apostle, thank you very much for your time in this interview!
This post is also available in: Indonesian