On a quiet evening in February this year, I listened to two Singaporeans describe what it was like being part of a Christian network helping the people of East Timor—one of Asia’s poorest countries—rebuild this once-forsaken country, town by town, household by household, family by family.
For far too long, East Timor had suffered terribly, subjected to two decades of bloody guerilla warfare under Indonesian rule, unable to wrest independence from a stronger power. [You can read a brief profile about East Timor’s long and traumatic road to independence here.]
The two pastors did not mince their words. The ground was hard, the people hostile to the outsiders’ offers of help and humanitarian aid. The difficult atmosphere in East Timor, said one of them, a church elder in his fifties, made you question the perception you had of yourself as a Christian.
I hadn’t read much about the country, although I remember reading stories in the newspaper and seeing pictures of such violence and cruelty that I can still recall them more than 10 years later.
All that was nine months ago.
Today, I have boarded a chartered flight out of Singapore headed south for the eastern end of the vast Indonesian archipelago, destination East Timor. Not only that, I am in the company of seven ladies, none of whom I’ve met before, each of us connected by a singular faith and belief.
If this isn’t an adventure, I don’t know what is. The time is now. Stay tuned.
A Valentine for East Timor My first post about East Timor
Australia Ends East Timor Mission A BBC report (22 November 2012)