INDONESIA (BP) – It wasn’t tropical tourism that first brought Rosemary Brackey* to Indonesia more than a decade ago. It was her desire to offer healing hands to the country after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed an estimated 170,000 Indonesians alone. At the time, Rosemary was a telemetry nurse, monitoring patients’ vital signs for Liberty Hospital in a Kansas City suburb. She and her husband Howard* had felt called to global missions but were waiting for the Lord’s timing.
Nearly 88 percent of the population, an estimated 205 million people, profess Islam in Indonesia, making it the most populous Muslim country in the world. Even though the majority claims adherence to Islam, groups in the islands have a multitude of non-Islamic practices – most incorporating animism and ancestor worship.
Then, reports of the catastrophic tsunami spurred her to action when she discovered that a local church was sending a disaster relief team to help survivors in Aceh Province. By the time she learned about the trip, however, the team was already complete and the organizer suggested that she volunteer for a later trip. But Rosemary’s heart couldn’t take “later.”
That night, during the small group Bible study she led, her group prayed she could be part of the relief effort. She felt strongly that she needed to be on the team leaving in less than two weeks. When she returned home after the study, a message was waiting on her answering machine. One of the nurses had dropped out of the trip for medical reasons and if Rosemary wanted to go, then she had nine days to raise the funds.
“In nine days, I got three weeks of [nursing] shifts covered, I found people to watch our kids after school and I raised a ton of money — $3,600,” she said. “It was clearly God’s plan for me to go on that trip. I got on the plane, and I didn’t even know [exactly] where Indonesia was. I didn’t have time to look that up. I knew I was called and I just went.”
The country of more than 250 million people – fourth in population in the world – has the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is the most populous Muslim country in the world.
Though nearly 88 percent of Indonesians profess Islam, Indonesia is a mosaic of peoples, cultures and languages throughout its roughly 13,500 islands. The nation’s motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), reflects the challenge of a national identity with the educated urban elite and factory workers living in densely populated cities, hunter and forager groups stalking island forests, inland rice farmers harvesting fields by hand and coastal fishermen sailing clear ocean waters.
The right time
Rosemary doesn’t live in Kansas City anymore. Once in her seat for the volunteer team flight to Indonesia, she pulled out the flight magazine, looked at the map in the back pages and suddenly realized just how far this trip would take her. It wasn’t just distance, though. It was also the place she and Howard were in their lives. By her third day there, she was deeply touched by the people she was working among.
“I just loved it. I loved the work,” she said. She sent Howard an email in which she remembers writing something along the lines of: Sell the house and call the IMB because I want to live here. It was that moment in time when God crystalized His call on their lives.
Supported through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, Rosemary and Howard, with their four children, have been living and working in Indonesia since 2007 to bring spiritual healing, hope and truth to this island nation.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Indonesia is the current country of focus for Woman’s Missionary Union’s International Mission Study. International Mission Board workers featured in this study are supported through the Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering: imb.org/give. Find IMS study resources at imb.org/ims and wmu.com/IMS. * denotes name changed.