The monsoon rains had stopped, and the path up the side of the mountain was dry and dusty. Mulyono’s bare feet were well accustomed to the rocks along the trail toward home. He scrambled deftly through the ferns of the forest.
Mulyono knew that a little candle already glowed from the open window where his mother sat combing his sister Tantra’s long black hair. Sounds of giant beetles began to echo from the roots of the large teak trees. The sun was setting on the western horizon as its last rays penetrated the Indonesian jungle.
In the deepening twilight Mulyono’s eyes fell upon a partly covered piece of paper in front of his hut. Curious, he picked it up. It was wrinkled and dirty, but Mulyono could make out the words at the top of the sheet: “Where Are the Dead?”
Tucking the pamphlet into his school notebook, he hurried inside the little bamboo hut. Smells of boiling sago, made from the pith of the sago palm, filled the air as his big sister, Kambona, stirred the black iron pot sitting on the coals in the center of the dirt floor.
“You’re late,” Mother gently reminded. “Get washed quickly. It’s prayer time.” Sure enough, before Mulyono could return from the nearby spring, with his sarong wrapped tightly around his waist and the water still dripping from his face and hair, he could hear the musically mournful wail of his father’s voice as he called faithful Muslims to evening prayers. A muezzin in the nearby village mosque, his father had been the guiding spiritual inspiration for all the 12 years of Mulyono’s life.
After prayers and a meal consisting of a large bowl of rice and sago, Mulyono edged over to the candle to prepare his lessons for school the next day. The pamphlet fell from his notebook, and he picked it up and read what it said about people when they die.
It was a different way of thinking than Father had always taught him. The pamphlet told of a resurrection day when all who sleep in the grave will rise to meet Jesus. Strange, Mulyono thought. I have always heard that Jesus was only a prophet. Could it be that Jesus really is the Son of Allah?
Next morning at breakfast Mulyono asked his father if Jesus really would come back to earth again. His father became angry and asked where he had heard such a fanatical idea. Mulyono showed his father the paper he had found on the way home the evening before. After only a glance at the tract his father quickly ripped it to shreds and tossed it on the coals. Mulyono was forbidden ever to discuss the name of Jesus at home again.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Several years passed. Mulyono left home when he was in his teens to work in the crowded city of Motoling. Pay was good, but the living conditions were not pleasant. He shared a tiny room with three other young men in a crowded tenement building.
Mulyono had always been physically strong. He had an athletic body and soon learned karate. He joined a rough street gang.
“Come on, Mulyono, let’s go break up those strange meetings on Sudirman Boulevard tonight,” his friend Supardi called one day.
“You mean those meetings in the big tent where that foreign Jesus man is speaking?” Mulyono queried.
“Of course,” Supardi replied. “Allah cannot be happy when one teaches from a holy book other than the Koran. Besides,” his friend continued, “think of the excitement. There aren’t even guards to watch the place.”
Convinced of Allah’s will and always ready for rough adventure, Mulyono joined four other youths. Sneaking down the narrow, winding back streets, they made their way to the tent, where a crowd of people had already gathered to listen to the missionary. The young men waited outside in the darkness until the missionary stood up under one of the three kerosene lanterns that illuminated the tent.
Mulyono had an excellent aim. At the open side of the tent he impetuously picked up a large stone and leaned back to hurl it at the lantern just over the pulpit. What a fright this will give the speaker! he thought to himself. And the crowd will scatter and run for their lives!
Mulyono heaved the rock toward the lantern some 40 feet away. He could see that the stone was heading right for the target.
Then, just as the rock was about to strike the lantern, a mysterious bright hand reached out to intercept the missile. To Mulyono’s frightened mind it could be nothing except the hand of an angel. He watched incredulously as the hand vanished. The lantern seemed to shine even brighter than before.
At the same moment a sharp pain struck Mulyono’s right arm, and it fell numb to his side. The numbness went up his arm into his neck and face. He crumpled to the ground. His companions fled in the darkness and left him alone outside the tent. He was out of sight of the crowd in the tent, but he could hear the minister’s message.
Convinced that the sudden attack was a divine punishment for what he had done, he prayed quietly, surrendering himself to the will of God. He asked for forgiveness. Slowly the numbness began to go away.
By then the meeting was over. Mulyono was left alone to contemplate his future and the strange events of his past life that had brought him here. Finally, pulling himself and his thoughts together again, he made his way slowly through the darkness back to his little room.
The next night Mulyono returned to the meeting in the tent. He had some of his gang with him once again, but they were not planning to cause trouble or hurl stones. Instead, arriving early, they found seats and stayed for the service. Night after night Mulyono returned to the big tent. His heart was stirred as he realized that the missionary was speaking a message of truth.
When the missionary made a call for surrender to God, Mulyono immediately stood and went to the front. He had already made the surrender in his heart. It was not hard for him to stand now. A few weeks later he was baptized, along with four other gang members.
With encouragement from the missionary, Mulyono enrolled in an Adventist college. He graduated from the ministerial course, and, together with his dedicated young bride, Tina, he entered the pastoral ministry. Later he was asked to serve as the president of a large section of the world field. All because an angel’s hand reached out to change the course of his life!
Reprinted from the March 9, 1977, issue of Guide.
Illustrated by Javier Saltares