Indonesia: A New Year’s Text

Yessy SutamaBy Yessy Sutama, Indonesia

The first morning of the New Year. I read a text message from my brother. A New Year’s reflection. So beautiful. I thought the greeting was quoted by my brother from another person’s text message to him. He often does this if he feels that the text was good and would be encouraging to me. However, when I read it this time the content felt so familiar. This made me think for a moment, and then I smiled. Obviously I was familiar with that writing because I myself was the author. It was one of the short reflections that I had contributed to a daily calendar.

I remembered similar occasions. Once when I experienced a crisis, a friend sent me back a writing which I had given her a few years earlier. All this time she had kept my writing because she felt strengthened by it. Now, she sent it back to me because she felt I needed to read my writing again to get encouraged. I did!

As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1). I myself do not think that what I write really could cheer other people, let alone myself. In fact, sometimes when I write, I do it without much thought.

These two occasions helped me to relate better with what a senior pastor and author said to me ages ago. Compared to preaching, he much prefers to write. According to him, even though his sermon is well prepared, people often forget it as soon as they leave church. In contrast, people will remember writing longer and the effect will remain longer. Writing can have a much stronger effect than the usual verbal delivery. That’s why he is a prolific writer and encourages others to write.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to our society’s low socioeconomic status, the culture of reading and writing in Indonesia is not very developed. It is indeed a challenge, especially for Christian writers in Indonesia.

Lord, help us, and especially Indonesian Christian writers, to remain steadfast in our writing so that we can be a blessing to others.

Yessy Sutama is a theological book editor at BPK Gunung Mulia, one of the largeLight_Writers_Soul_MAI_2Dst Christian publishers in Indonesia, and also edits Saat Teduh, the Indonesian edition of The Upper Room. Reading, writing and listening to music are her hobbies.

This article was published as “Not Just Mere Words” in our unique book, Light for the Writer’s Soul: 100 Devotions by global Christian writers. Get your copy today.

Read Yessy’s article, Written in Tears, winner of MAI’s People’s Choice Award in our devotional writing contest.

Living the Dream to Educate Indonesian Children

A young writer is on the fast track to fulfilling her dream of educating underprivileged children in Indonesia.

A few months after our LittWorld 2015 conference, Tiur Faith Saj Purba, 25, launchedtiur-book-cover-cropped her autobiographical book 0.1 Hectares School, published by Christian publisher Metanoia. She and co-author Ariska Amir tell describe Tiur’s childhood, attending a neighborhood school with crumbling walls and her vision and work to educate village children.

Tiur attributes LittWorld 2015 with equipping her in publishing, plus enabling her to lead her non-profit.

A workshop on leadership was particularly helpful “because I learned to lead by love and the Word of God,” she said. “I can use the teaching in writing and publishing to bless a lot of people.

Only one year earlier in March 2015, Tiur launched Rumah Belajar Bekasi (House for Learning). The nonprofit tutoring center serves low-income children in Bekasi, a poor suburb of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital. She recruited 10 other volunteers to give up their Sundays to teach some 30 children in a room only 7 by 4 meters. Donors contributed books, pencils and notebooks.

lw-2015-hermela-and-tiurSince that first center, Tiur has opened two additional centers for children, gathering volunteers and supplies through her blog and website.

“My vision now is to build a free school for poor children,” Tiur told us. “I hope they can feel His love through my ministry.”

Her book’s publicity has propelled Tiur’s vision further as she travels in Indonesia and Malaysia to speak on TV talk shows and give newspaper interviews.

All of the book’s proceeds will be poured into creating an official school. Tiur is already working on the government paperwork.

Check out Tiur’s latest updates on Facebook.

Photo above: Tiur (left) with new friend, Ethiopian author Hermela Solomon, at LittWorld 2015.

Indonesia is home to some 1,000 publishers, of which about 40 are Christian. The world’s most populous Muslim nation of 240 million people is nearly 10 percent Christian.

LittWorld leads to published book

By Yahya Djuanda, Indonesia

The LittWorld 2012 conference in Kenya had a really big impact on me, especially on my writing goals. I also learned much from other participants about how committed they are in writing with Christian values.

I met four people who really reignited my writing passion. They were from d1_014 indonesian greeting AfricanMongolia, China, Egypt and India. Their countries are similar to mine, Indonesia, where Christianity is a minority religion. They live their writing careers as a small light sparkling in the darkness of the country. They write a lot and help people without using Christian jargon. They are very inspiring to me. After Kenya, I continued to email with them.

Back in Indonesia, the conference experiences and inspirations slowly but surely made me stronger and more confident in my writing goals. I must be a light for my country through my writing. During my service as an editor at Berkat Christian magazine, I started to write a general book about fathering and a husband’s calling and responsibility. By “general book” I mean not an explicitly Christian book.

Why am I writing the book? Today in Indonesia there are some 220,000 legal divorces per year as noted in the Religion Office, or about 700 per day! These happen for various reasons, mostly disharmony, followed by economic reasons and domestic violence, and divorce occurs among young couples with low education.

My wife, a Sunday school teacher, also mentioned how many of her kids’ parents have problems. She was visiting kids’ houses to get to know the families deeper, and often found that the parents had problems in their marriage, such as living separately, not talking to each other, and domestic violence, but they were still in a legal marriage. In most of the families’ cases, the cause was the husband.

These cases will negatively impact soul development, mental strength and the religious lives of the kids. It will affect the kids’ personalities and characters, and impact his/her own future family. I heard a call in my heart to write about the issue.

I was a participant of a book writing camp in November (4 days and 3 nights, a year after the Kenya meeting), and during the camp I wrote the wholeYahya-book-cover-An draft of my first book. The camp was supervised by Edy Zaqeus, a Catholic best-selling author, ghost writer and writer coach.

My book title is: Andakah suami keren itu? (Are You A Cool Husband?). The book is about a husband’s calling and his responsibility as the head of family. The draft is finished, endorsements are there, and the quotes and jokes are in place.

We congratulate Yahya! After he wrote this article, one of Indonesia’s large general publishing houses released his book in October 2014. It’s now available on Amazon.

141124LittWorldPosHave you considered attending LittWorld 2015? Join us in Singapore, November 1 to 6. Don’t miss our triennial conference for Christian writers, editors and publishing staff from around the world. Invest in your publishing ministry and the readers you serve. You will gain fresh skills, vision and networks and become part of the global LittWorld “family.” Register today.

Written in Tears

This article is an entry in the MAI Devotional Writing Contest. Try your hand at a 400-word devotional to encourage fellow writers worldwide. See contest guidelines and rules.

By Yessy Sutama, Indonesia

To become a well-known writer is one of my big aspirations in life. To imagine that someday my book becomes a classic reading and my name will be timeless in  history is really exciting. I even started thinking about what pseudonym to use, a name which would be mysterious and unique. On many occasions, I tried to write short stories, novels, poetry, devotionals, and include them in various competitions. I was motivated by the desire to make my mum proud. In the Chinese tradition, the idea of “make your parents proud” is important in a child’s life. This motivation really burns my spirit.

However, March 24, 2013, all of that dreams vanished. My mother died of liver sad asian woman Witthaya Phonsawat freedigitalphotoscancer. I was so devastated. Whatever I did seems to hold no meaning anymore. At that moment, I felt as though my life stopped suddenly. I no longer had any interest in anything including writing. I feel there is nothing else to be pursued in this life. All is over. Only regret and guilt remained. I look at myself as a shameful loser who couldn’t make her mum proud. Then, when the sadness engulfed, I began to blame myself for my mum’s death.

So dark was my world. I felt that no one can help me in this valley of sorrow. Like Jesus who felt abandoned by the Father in His sufferings, so did I. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34).

Now, one year and seven months has passed. My grief is not completely gone, but the recovery has occurred in me slowly. The Lord comforts me by giving me a daughter, who I had never imagined that I would be able to have.

Seeing my daughter’s smile and eyes, I know that God never abandon me. With a little faith, once again, I take my journey as a writer. Whether my writing will become a classic or not, whether my name will be immortalized in history or not, it no longer matters. I just want to write! Writing about my story, my joy and sadness. I believe that my mother is still and always proud of me as long as I endure to do my work well, enjoy my life, and keep writing.

I pray that God’s love will light up any darkness that buries our passion to write.

Yessy SutamaYessy Sutama lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, with her husband and one little daughter. She is editor at BPK Gunung Mulia, one of the largest Christian publishers in Indonesia. Besides editing theological books, she also edits Saat Teduh, the Indonesian edition of The Upper Room. Reading, writing and listening to music are her hobbies.

Wait, there’s more! Did you enjoy this article? Click the Facebook “Like” icon to vote for it in the MAI Devotional Writing Contest. The entry posted with the greatest number of Likes will win the People’s Choice Award and $100 USD.

Enter the MAI Devotional Writing Contest. Pen a 400-word devotional to encourage fellow writers worldwide. See contest guidelines and rules.

Indonesia: Tale of a Children’s Author


Training and fellowship are key for writer development. Sylvia (left) enjoys lunch with fellow Indonesian author Sally Pasaribu, who has also attended MAI workshops. Sally hopes to release her first book this year.

“The stories never ended,” says Sylvia Tanuadji of her father’s reading to her at bedtime. Every night he nodded off to sleep before finishing Cinderella, Snow White, Indonesian folktales, and more. So, Sylvia read them herself. “My family made me love books,” she says.

Sylvia’s nights still are steeped with tales at age 54, but now they’re her own. Since her first book in 2009, she has authored 11 children’s books and a teen novel. Sylvia (left in photo) finally sits down to write after working six days a week in admin for a wedding decorating company in Jakarta, Indonesia’s bustling capital.

As a child, Sylvia never dreamed of becoming an author. But after teaching Sunday school for decades, she asked God how she could most effectively reach kids. “I got the answer: I can serve children everywhere by writing.”

Sylvia has continued to hone her skills since her first MAI writing workshop in Jakarta with MAI trainer Larry Brook in 2003. She’s also learned from other workshops, her editors and a local writer club. She credits her recent growth to MAI’s blog and webinars. “My writing style is more lively,” she’s been told.

God was Sylvia’s first literary agent. When she pursued a small publisher for her first manuscript, by mistake she called Indonesia’s largest secular publisher. They rejected her manuscript, but invited her to pen a series of picture books on simple science for five-year-olds. Her nine books, Wind, Water, Light, Lizard, Frog and more, sold out last year.
Sylvia’s latest novel “Why Should She? (Kenapa Harus Dia?)” published by Bina Kasih, portrays two best friends, ballet dancers, who fall for the same boy. The novel is infused with the theme “A true friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17).

Now Sylvia is tackling a series of picture books for a general audience, a Christian novel for children about trafficking, and “The Cookie Bear,” a bilingual English/Bahasa picture book with her own illustrations for Christmas.

“I hope I can write books that influence readers for life,” she says.

“Please pray for me and other writers to write books with unique ideas, quality writing and illustrations. Maybe such books will sell as well or more than Disney’s Frozen has in Jakarta.”