President Nelson says the Church will grow in Indonesia — one faithful family at a time

JAKARTA, INDONESIA — President Russell M. Nelson walked into the ballroom of Jakarta’s Ritz-Carlton hotel to a capacity crowd of 1,765 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday evening, Nov. 21.

Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Church here in this country of 267 million and looking into the faces of multi-generational members, President Nelson experienced “one of those moments that you never forget.”

“You can’t put words to it very well, but it is the Lord telling you that this is His work and He is directing it and we get to participate,” said President Nelson.

Read more: President Nelson honors the Church’s growth in Singapore for its 50th anniversary

Sitting down for an interview at the conclusion of his Southeast Asia Ministry — after visiting four countries and five cities in seven days from Nov. 15 through Nov. 22 — President Nelson again recalled the power of that moment and simply added, “It is pretty exciting, really.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with multigenerational families in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with multigenerational families in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — who accompanied President Nelson — also felt the strength of the Church here in that moment and of President Nelson’s ministry. “I have seen more perfectly how it is done, or how it is done more perfectly,” he said.

The meetings in Southeast Asia stood in stark contrast to the stadiums and convention centers filled with tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints in large-scale gatherings that have previously been part of President Nelson’s worldwide ministry. Both President Nelson and Elder Christofferson were accompanied by their wives — Sister Wendy Nelson and Sister Kathy Christofferson — as well as members of the Area Presidency, as they ministered to the “one.”

Watching the prophet travel so far to minister to just a few “is a testimony that every soul is precious,” said Elder Christofferson. “They are remembered.”

To have the President of the Church “come to and speak to a relative handful of people — what could be a more eloquent testament than that?” he added.

“They matter. They are remembered. The Lord cares about them. The leaders of the Church care about them and they are not alone.”

‘Cheering for you’

Just over 50 years ago, on Oct. 26, 1969, then-Elder Ezra Taft Benson of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered a prayer on the land and people of Indonesia. “In a remarkably short time, the Church was granted recognition in the following year,” recalled President Nelson. “That sequence is a testimony of the divinity of the priesthood power of an atmospheric dedication.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a devotional in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during a devotional in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

When Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created the first stake here in May 2011, cheers of joy rippled across the world to Church headquarters, President Nelson said. The second stake was created just a year later in 2012. 

“We are still cheering for you,” said President Nelson during the devotional. “May I express, on behalf of the leadership of the Church, our heartfelt gratitude for the faithfulness of Church members here in Indonesia. We are proud of you.”

Then he looked forward. “Maybe some of you are wondering if President Nelson is going to say there will be a temple in Indonesia,” he said. Noting that there has to be enough temple-worthy members to staff and operate a temple, he added, “You will determine when that happens.”

It takes a long time, sometimes years, to build a temple, President Nelson explained. “But it takes even longer to build a people ready for the temple. You do your part, and we will do our part.”

During the Southeast Asia ministry, President Nelson and Elder Christofferson met with government leaders in Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore. They met Thursday, Nov. 21, with Ma’ruf Amin, vice president of Indonesia.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with Ma’ruf Amin, vice president of Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meets with Ma’ruf Amin, vice president of Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 21, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Nelson noted that the vice president has been in office only one month. Ma’ruf Amin thanked the leaders for what Latter-day Saint Charities has done to assist the country after previous disasters as well as for what they are doing now.

Read more: How Latter-day Saint Charities and the Vietnamese government are addressing the nation’s mobility crisis

“He was very gracious and warmly welcomed us,” said President Nelson of the meeting.

Elder Christofferson said the meetings with government leaders held in Southeast Asia — as well as others like them that take place across the globe — “clear up misconceptions in many cases and establish relationships that can build in the future.”

Modern-day pioneers

Sister Nelson asked Latter-day Saints in Indonesia to avoid contention. “Jesus Christ makes it very clear that He does not like anger,” she said. “By anticipating an interaction in advance, we can learn how to respond with love rather than anger, even when provoked. We can pray right in the moment to be given an extra measure of patience or compassion for a person who is lashing out in anger.”

She continued, “Now the scriptures are filled with inspiring examples (of those) who were serious about living the Savior’s doctrine of zero contention.”

Sister Christofferson — who connected with the members by beginning all of her addresses with a personalized message in the local language — said in a sea of millions of people, the 7,500 Latter-day Saints in Indonesia “are a light.”

“The world will take notice if we live by the precepts that we espouse,” she said. “We must be a people of character, a people the Lord can trust.”

In his final address to Latter-day Saints in Indonesia, President Nelson said the Church here will grow through families.

Earlier in the day he met with two families — one reaching back five generations in Church history, the other four. “We got to see the great-grandchildren of some of these wonderful early pioneers,” he said.

These people have a legacy of participation. In Indonesia, for example, sacrament meeting attendance is very high, said President Nelson.

“It is interesting that in many places, the work does begin with a few key families, and the Lord builds the gospel on their foundation,” added Elder Christofferson. “And it seems very slow at first and then, all of a sudden, you have five generations in a time that seems so brief. …

“And so it goes. The Lord does His work one by one.”