25 January 2015-
Mawar Sharon megachurch in Surabaya, Indonesia lost 46 members in the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash late last year. The church’s pastor, Pastor Philip Mantofa, recently opened up about how his church, and his faith in God, have strengthened through the tragedy.
“Our church has always been like a big family,” the pastor explained in an interview with Charisma News.
“Even though not everyone necessarily knows everyone, our sense of belonging as one body of Christ is strong since most of our members belong in small groups and ministries.”
In late December, Flight QZ8501 disappeared about one hour into its journey to Singapore from Surabaya while flying over the Java Sea. Officials lost contact as the plane travelled between Belitung and Kalimantan, Indonesia with 162 people on board. Days later, wreckage and bodies–one fourth of which were members of Mawar Sharon– were recovered.
“No words can describe the feeling of loss we have all experienced here, especially the passengers’ families,” the pastor recalled. “Unnecessary comments haven’t help a bit, and we don’t attempt to answer the big “WHY” question. However, the Holy Spirit has been real in our church as the Comforter. As their pastor, I must say that I couldn’t be prouder of my members as they carried each other’s burden without second thoughts. The most glorious moment was when I witnessed how one bereaved family encouraged and prayed for another out of their own initiative. I could say that I almost saw heaven in that situation. Yes, we are moving forward!”
Although devastated, Pastor Mantofa says his Christian faith has grown stronger through the tragedy, as it has forced him to completely rely on God.