Pr Thamrin Simanjuntak: Reaching Out to the Batak and Beyond

9 May 2014 by Jason Law CM –

 

Pr Thamrin Simanjuntak is a man with a very special calling on his life; to reach out to the Batak tribe and restore them to an authentic relationship with God. From his calling while being imprisoned, to today, where he heads churches in three different towns, and organizes numerous seminars and revival meetings throughout the region, God has taken him far. Pr Thamrin has even started his own Christian radio station, and he possesses a mighty and contagious faith that God has still more in plan for his ministry, and for the people of God. Despite his years of ministry experience, Pr Thamrin is a jovial and down-to-earth man.

 

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Pr Thamrin Simanjuntak (front row, center)

 

Pr Thamrin shared that though he was born into a Christian family, Pr Thamrin encountered God personally at the age of 20 while under imprisonment. That encounter left a deep impact on his life, and led to a complete surrender to God and a deep longing to learn more about Him in Bible School. Pr Thamrin did not know at first where God was going to lead him, but throughout a period of 6 months, he continued to seek after God, and after a period of fasting, the Holy Spirit gave him a distinct call to reach out to his tribe, the Batak, and redeem them for God.

God miraculously provided for Pr Thamrin to return back to his tribe in Balige, North Sumatera, for his appointed purpose and gave him a confirmation of this calling through a divine meeting with an Australian missionary. The Holy Spirit had given the missionary the visions of the young Thamrin and his calling for 10 years beforehand, and directed their paths to the meeting. In 1995, Pr Thamrin was called to start his first church in Balige to reach out to the Batak.      

 

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Congregation at the Balige church

 

The Batak is a collective term used to identify a number of ethnic groups predominantly found in North Sumatera, Indonesia. The term is used to include the Alas, Kiuet, Singkil, Karo, Pakpak, Simalungun, Toba, Angkola, and Mandailing which are distinct but related groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and customs (adat). In North Sumatra, the Toba people typically assert their identity as 'Batak', while other 'Bataks' may explicitly reject that label, preferring instead to identify as specifically 'Simalungun', 'Karo', etc.

They have a long history within Christianity, dating back to the time of Stamford Raffles, and the Toba and Karo Bataks in particular, are prominently identified as Christian groups. However, though many among the Batak considered themselves as Christians, many were also not born-again, and they were held by old traditions of animism and witchcraft. Their surface identification as Christians actually made the ground harder for the message of the New Birth in the Spirit found in John 3 to penetrate amongst the Batak.  

 

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The Batak (Source: Indonesian Tourism Website; www.indonesia-tourism.com)

 

The early years were tough ones for Pr Thamrin, and he was threatened many times, and even accused as a heretic for bringing in the news of the New Birth. He had to work with minimal resources, and few support from the community, but through the faith that God provides, found even in those early days, the remarkable faithfulness of God and His provision.

Throughout the years, Pr Thamrin had seen the work of God amongst his tribe. From hostility, they have begun to open a relationship with God, and many have turned back to God, turning up in droves up to a few thousand in the revival meetings held by him throughout the towns and cities. Many Batak are born-again today, and from the lonely days, many new churches have sprung up to the challenge of returning back to God. In many revival meetings, Pr Thamrin has seen the inner healing work as well as physical healing that is the result of God’s dispensation.

 

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Zaitun Ministry Church Balige with the radio transmission antenna at the back.

 

In 2011, God paved the way for Pr Thamrin to build up his own radio station, Zaitun Radio (zaitunbalige.blogspot.com) to share God’s word over 18 hours daily from 5am-11pm. The radio station is a private non-profit one, unfunded by the government and without any advertisements to generate income. The name chosen for the radio station comes from the Indonesian word for olive, and has a familiar significance to Christians concerning anointing.

It also has the significance of the dove that was sent out by Noah after the Great Flood. The dove returned with an olive branch, adopted by Zaitun Radio as a symbol of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and the Blessed Promises and Hope that is found in Christ. In this ministry as well, God has implanted in the heart of a businessman to support its efforts, increasing its reach and transforming the lives of many.

 

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At a Revival Meeting, Binjai, North Sumatera

 

Pr Thamrin sees an encouraging and powerful movement of the Holy Spirit, confirming what many prophetic missionaries have also seen. In these days drawing close to the End Times and days of increasing wickedness, the Church needs to be strong, and the Holy Spirit is preparing the Church for a holy and unblemished return to its true identity as a radiant Church, fitting as the Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-28). This power, bringing confession and holiness, and a turning away from the old things, comes from our faith in the Holy Spirit.

 

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Revival Meeting, Pulau Samosir

 

But we must also return to the unadulterated meaning of the Word of God, and God is calling us to that. Pr Thamrin pointed out that Psalm 119: 9-11 states that cleanliness and holiness comes through taking heed of and our confidence in God’s Word. It is by truly knowing His Word deeper and deeper that we can withstand the pressures of the world and set our foundations on the Rock, so that when the flood hits, we will still be strong as the people of God. The calling for Discipleship is strong in these days.

 

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Pr Thamrin at a pastor’s conference.

 

Pr Thamrin shares that despite his many responsibilities pastoring three churches, heading a radio station, and organizing seminars and revival meetings, he never feels weighed down by them. He shares that he only needs to be in fellowship with God, and God smoothes the paths. He sends the right people along, and there is a flourishing culture of teamwork. Pr Thamrin stresses that the movement of God is not isolated in only one nation, but among the whole Body of Christ throughout the world.

The unity of the Church is really important, and from the days of redeeming his tribe for God, Pr Thamrin made one of his missions in life to establish this unity in the Church. Being united goes beyond just being together, it has the significance of being One in the Body of Christ.  What the hand feels, the leg feels and what the leg feels, the hand feels. All the hardships as well as blessings are shared as one.

 

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Shooting for a programme on Stasiun TVRI

 

Pr Thamrin ministers throughout the region, and among the nations he has a heart and burden for is Malaysia. He shares that he senses an atmosphere of strong revival in Malaysia, and Malaysia has to rise up to the challenge and to a breakthrough with God.  

 

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