Psalm 107 portrays the gathering of displaced people into a city as an ideal. “. . . and they founded a city where they could settle (v. 37).” Displaced people are described as “finding no way to a city where they could settle (v. 4b).”
Jakarta has become a global city where over ten million people have found their refuge. The Chinese are among those who have settled in Jakarta. This mega city in South East Asia on the island of Java has the highest number of overseas Chinese in Indonesia. ICON 2018 was a conference to promote the values and practices of “Loving the City” for an audience made up mostly of young ethnic Chinese. Several other people groups were among the audience, but the majority were definitely the Chinese and, if history told it all, the Chinese would not have a reason to love Jakarta. The article on “Chinese Indonesians” in Wikipedia, documents a history of discrimination and persecution against this group. And yet, over 100 young (average age, 27), Chinese Indonesian professionals gathered on a Saturday in July to receive instruction and encouragement to love Jakarta. Why?
Many of these professionals came to a personal faith in Jesus Christ while studying abroad and now desire to live out that faith in and through their lives. But they have a problem, or a potential, depending on which angle one approaches the issue. Their positions in the business world allow them to implement changes of scale larger than mere personal transformation. The potential of influence would be a problem if the conference did not specifically address this unique angle. But the organizers have been tracking the needs among this audience for the last four years with excellent, on-the-ground data. Resource Global was able to challenge the audience on their level, and at the right point for their next step. In education a timely challenge, that is truly a next step in ability and willingness is called, the Zone of Proximal Development. Debriefing with several participants made it evident to me that ICON hit the Zone.
A business owner at my table decided to make himself accountable. Mr. Steve Preston, the keynote speaker, a business leader and a former US housing secretary, mentioned that businesses could become deliberate in changing a neighborhood. “Why not cooperate with other businesses and deliberately place your next venture where the economic situation is dismal?” That is exactly what this business owner heard and inquired about after the speech. What would the dynamics be if he placed his next manufacturing/assembly business in an accessible place to a population that was a need? He promised he would pray about it and investigate the actions necessary to make the love of Jesus tangible in a neighborhood.
After all, these young professionals have committed themselves, at least forty of them, to implement whatever they learn from the Scriptures in their family businesses and work places and in their personal lives. Icon 2018 gave them specifics on scaling their influence to not “take out of the city, like many others, but to give to the city” (challenge from Alex Evans, the pastor at The Collective.)
The theme for next year will bring the focus back to personal ethics and issues of integrity. The organizers of ICON know how to dance between the Sermon on the Mount issues (Matthew 5, ethics) and the parable of the good and faithful steward in Matthew 25 (stewardship). Icon is making disciples in Jakarta who can and want to change how Jesus’ love would be experienced in healthcare, education, politics, architecture, and more in a city where many migrate to (over 50% of the population is not from Jakarta). It is crowded now, but open spaces are coming!
Dr. Julius Wong Loi Sing - thoughts from ICON 2018