A family in Christ

By Glenice Hartwich

Death of a parent, breakdown of marriage, the experience of being abandon, poverty…these are some of the harsh realities of life in our world. For vulnerable children, these experiences can mean isolation, homelessness, a deeper experience of poverty, a loss of identity and dignity, and loss of their family or a place to call home. […]

Death of a parent, breakdown of marriage, the experience of being abandon, poverty…these are some of the harsh realities of life in our world. For vulnerable children, these experiences can mean isolation, homelessness, a deeper experience of poverty, a loss of identity and dignity, and loss of their family or a place to call home.

The reasons why children come to Debora orphanage in North Sumatra, Indonesia are many. Not all are ‘orphans’ in the true sense of the word. But their experiences of loss and breakdown of their family unit are real and life-changing.

Debora orphanage is set on a rise, located in a rural area and surrounded by rice fields, and a mixture of houses and small farming plots. The orphanage was established by the Gereja Kristen Protesta Ankgola (GKPA) church (one of the 12 Lutheran denominational Churches in Indonesia) and with the on-going support of people within the Lutheran Church of Australia.

Currently 19 children call Debora orphanage ‘home’. Some have been brought to Debora as very young children, while others have come as older children – maybe 10 years or older. Over the years during their life at Debora, they may have experienced the care of a number of different ‘houseparents’. Today at Debora, the ‘parents’ who care for them are Pastor Pinda Harahap and his wife Munang.

Living in this household at Debora the children experience many similar struggles, sorrows and joys as any child living in a large family.

However one of the great joys of living at Debora is the knowledge that people love them and care for them. They are blended into a new community, a new family – a family which has the arms of love that stretch across the ocean from Australia and wrap around them with the love of Jesus Christ. They are a family in Christ.

Over the years the children have come to know the love of Jesus in very personal and practical ways through Australians such as the LCA volunteers in mission who have visited and served at Debora: through Rosemary Winderlich – “Opung (grandma) Rosemary” as she has travelled back to Debora each year over the last 8 years and spent up to 3 months of at a time there – living in the family, loving the children and teaching them a whole range of life skills and a knowledge about following Jesus; through the people of Holy Trinity Horsham congregation who visit, and support the children with scholarships and funds for various building and maintenance projects; and through the ongoing love, care, prayerful and financial support of the Lutheran Women of Australia (LWA) who have continued to provide funds which are vital for the ongoing viability of Debora orphanage.

Through the tangible support of LWA over these many years, vulnerable children have been blended into a new community – a new family. These children have grown in their experience of Jesus’ love and have been helped to mature into young adults who leave Debora orphanage with a rich and varied experience of ‘family’ life – life in the family of God.


If you would like to consider the opportunity to serve as a volunteer in mission, serving in practical ways, teaching English, teaching in the seminaries and institutions of our partner churches, or in local churches, you are invited to phone Nevin on (08) 8267 7300 or email nevin.nitschke@lca.org.au. For more information, go to https://www.lcamission.org.au/join-gods-mission/volunteer/

Read more stories about our partner churches in Indonesia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/indonesia/

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