I have a collection of magnets on my refrigerator. Each magnet serves as reminder of the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, the people I love. There are several “Colorado” magnets, reminding me of my homeland and the people I love there. A “Wisconsin” magnet reminds me of going to Oshkosh last year with my husband. There are a few other random magnets from family vacations. But my favorite is the handmade wooden magnet, picked up at a missionary guesthouse in Jakarta on one of our many trips through the capital city. The magnet features little roughly carved islands stretching out to create the archipelago of Indonesia, with the words “Pray for Indonesia” spread across the top.
If you were to look at a satellite image of Indonesia right now, much of the country would be covered in smoke. Palangkaraya, where we serve, is lost beneath a dense smoke cloud and reporting pollution levels more than 10 times the safe level.
Every year, farmers and palm oil plantations clear land with fire. Every year, it gets smoky, but the rain usually comes and things get better. Not this year. This year is an El Nino year and the rains aren’t coming. The fires are now burning completely out of control, destroying virgin rainforest, people’s homes and livelihoods, orangutan habitat. The smoke blots out the sun, creating an earie orange glow. Thousands of people are suffering the effects of breathing such polluted air and hospitals are overrun with the sick. Until the rain comes, the forests and peatland will continue to smolder.
My family has evacuated to a different city where we can safely wait out the smoke. But we leave behind our friends and Indonesian coworkers who, for many different reasons, can’t leave. We help where we can, but we are powerless to do more. We can’t make the smoke go away. We can’t make it rain.
I’ve been learning about prayer lately. Prayer often feels like the last thing we can do, when all our strength and ability is exhausted. But maybe, praying for Indonesia is the best thing that we can do right now. Who but God is bigger than smoke, El Nino, and raging fires?
I’m praying for Indonesia. Join me?