Standing Firm for the Truth
by Dorsiana Ruge, Feburary, 2001
Those who had been re-baptized were asked to put up their hands. One by one, all the seventeen of us raised our hands and gave Pak Agustinus our full names. Each time Angkasa and my name were mentioned, dad started to shout at us and tried to barge in to beat us. I was very grateful to the few men at the door who pulled him back. I have yet to recover from the blows I received from him two days ago when I first admitted to him my re-baptism. My sister Angkasa and I were “secretly” re-baptized last year in a secluded river. A Pastor from a charismatic church conducted the ceremony. We kept the news from everyone, especially our parents. Born and raised in a traditional Christian family we have been baptized when we were a year old.
We could see more and more villagers crowding around Robin’s house, some even climbed up the fence and wall to get a better view of the proceeding inside. Pak Agustinus, the influential deacon of the traditional church our parents belonged to, was compiling our data to be sent to the Church Synod. We have committed what they considered a major sin, going for re-baptism by immersion.
In recent weeks, news of our re-baptism had spread. We were summoned to Robin’s house for questioning by the board of deacons and the village head, Pak Maklir. “Why did you go and re-baptize? Didn’t you realize it is a sin? You are crucifying Jesus for the second time!” A barrage of questions was fired at us. Though bombarded with questions yet we were not given a chance to reply. We tried to tell them that after knowing the truth, we just wanted to implement the word of God. In preparation for this, we had consulted a Pastor for verses on water baptism. So, we flipped our bibles to show them the verses on baptism upon repentance. However before I could read the verses, Pak Maklir shut my bible. Turning to Ruth, our leader he said, “You have taught them heresy and led them astray!”
Incited, the crowd outside started to throw stones into the house. Robin’s mum started to cry as some of the stones hit the glass windows. People jostled and tried to shove their way in. The back and side doors were being kicked. Out of a sudden there was a black out - someone must have turned off the power supply. Trapped inside in total darkness we hugged one another for strength and comfort. The guys were in the outer circle to protect the girls from the angry mob. In my heart I felt no fear but only a deep sense of pain. I remember Hebrew 12:3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
The police soon arrived. The crowd was dispersed and Ruth was taken away. Pak Maklir who called the police said that Ruth needed to be detained for teaching us heresy. Before the police took Ruth we asked to go into the room to pray. As we prayed, the crowd mocked. When Ruth was led to the police truck, the crowd shouted, “Crucify her, crucify her!” One man even walked up to her and whispered profanities into her ears. At that instant I was reminded of how the crowd mocked and spat on Jesus on His way to the cross.
After the police left, we stayed on to comfort Robin’s mother who had been crying non-stop. It had been quite a night for her. Her house was totally wrecked and her husband had been asked to go to the police station for questioning. Robin’s parents were the only ones who supported our re-baptism.
My own ordeal was far from over. Past few days had been very tense at home. We were given the silent treatment and mum had stopped giving me money to go to school. After what had happened just now, a public display of our crime, dad must have felt deeply humiliated. I was sure he would take it out on us. I was just worried for Angkasa, being the sickly one she might not be able to take the beatings I knew was to come.
Hoping to avoid dad’s fury we loitered around. Finally as it was getting late we had no choice but to head towards the small path leading to our house. We could hear dad’s voice talking to our neighbours. Terrified Angkasa and I turned around and ran. After a short distance we stopped. We told ourselves that we had to bear this. Jesus would be with us. In Hebrew it says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Holding on to one another we boldly walked past him. Dad called out and asked, “Where are you two going?” We told him we were going home and he said, “You just wait for your share later!”
Around 11 pm dad barged into our room and asked, “Are you still going to attend that woman’s fellowship group?” We knew we would still go to Ruth, so we answered, “Yes.” Dad then asked us to get out of the house. Mum started to panic but Joni, our eldest brother encouraged us to leave immediately. Hurriedly we packed our clothes, but we weren’t fast enough. Dad crept up on us and started to punch with all his strength. Most of the blows fell on my head. Joni tried to protect me so he got some of the blows too. I shielded Angkasa with my body but one blow landed on her mouth - I could see blood trickling down her broken lips.
Undeterred dad pushed me down and tore my blouse, saying that holy people should leave the house naked. When dad reached for Angkasa, I pushed him away for Angkasa was wearing a new shirt and I didn’t want it to be torn. Like a man possessed he ran to the kitchen, reappearing a few minutes later with a knife. Pointing the knife at my stomach, he grabbed my mouth, accusing me of challenging him. I have not spoken anything at all! Mum started to cry hysterically, shouting for him to stop. At that juncture Joni urged me to pray to God. Hearing this dad turned to Joni and started to beat him.
Still enraged, he shouted for us to get out of the house. Before I ran out I reached for my notes on the table, I have yet to study for my final exam the next day. However mum, determined not to let us leave home, reached the main door before us, she bolted it and kept the keys, effectively locking us in.
Trapped we couldn’t do anything but sat there like wounded animals waiting for their predators to strike. With a powerful blow dad sent me to the ground. My notes flew out of my hands and scattered all over the floor. Dad then challenged me to ask God to manifest His power. Hearing that I felt as if my heart broke into a thousand pieces. With all my strength I pushed myself up on kneeling position and cried out to God. All the sudden I felt God’s presence in the room - there was a profound peace and deep sense of joy in my heart. The song “Rivers of Joy” came to me and I started to hum it as I crawled around the room picking up my notes. While I was singing I could hear Angkasa crying and pleading with God to forgive my dad for his sins.
Dad then turned his attention to Joni, pointing the knife at him and scolding him for siding with us. By that time it was 2.30 am. I was getting worried as I have yet to study for my exam the next morning. Just as I was about to start, dad shouted for me to switch off the light, he said since I did not pay for the utilities bill, I have no right to use the light. Unable to study, I climbed onto my bed and fell asleep.
When I woke up it was already 5.30 am. I could hardly move my stiff body, it was full of bruises and my head throbbed painfully. I could feel a big lump on my head. Suddenly I felt the burden was just too great for me to bear. Tears streamed down uncontrollably, I tried to call out to Angkasa but no voice came out. In despair I wondered where would I find the strength to sit for my exam. There was so much to study but the room was too dark for me to read. I dare not switch on the light lest I incurred dad’s fury again. In the midst of my sorrow, I remember the verse I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I pushed open the wooden windows to get some natural light and I forced myself to study. I knew I didn’t have much time. On top of revising I had to finish washing all the family’s dirty clothes before I could leave for school.
Though late I was still in time for the exam. I studied up to the minute the teacher was handing out the exam paper. Despite the pain in my head and the ache in my body I was able to think clearly. God was indeed kind for all that I studied came out.
All these happened a few months ago. Looking back I could see that the verse in Roman 8:28, “All things work together for good to those who love God “ is true. God honors me as I have honored Him. I finish top in my class and was one of the three to be awarded prize money for good results.
I believe there is an eternal purpose for all that had happened. My only hope is I will continue to remain faithful to God in the days to come.
(c) 2012 Christian Disciples Church