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Indonesia: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Melissa Chang |

Indonesia, Regions, Travel, Travel Health & Safety


 Indonesian Ocean

Location: Southeast Asia, archipelago between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.

Capital: Jakarta.Map of Indonesia

Climate: Tropical, generally hot and humid, more moderate in the highlands.

Population: 237,512,352 as per July 2008 estimates. About 17.8% of the population live below poverty line and the country has an unemployment rate of 9.1% as of 2007. Agriculture and industry prop up the Indonesian economy aided by reforms in the financial sector and improved investments. Petroleum and natural gas, textiles, mining, cement, chemical fertilizers, wood products, rubber products and tourism are the main industries.

Ethnic Make-up: Javanese 40.6%, Sudanese 15%, Madurese 3.3%, Minangkabau 2.7%, Betawi 2.4%, Bugis 2.4%, Banten 2%, Banjar 1.7%, Others 30%.

Religions: Muslim 86%, Protestant 5.7%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 1.8%, Others including Jews, Buddhists 3.4%. The Constitution grants all citizens the right to worship according to their faith, but restrictions have been applied to some religious activities. The government only recognises 5 major religions and others coming under the unrecognised category and are therefore not protected by law.

Mopeds in IndonesiaLanguage: Bahasa Indonesia, English, Dutch, Javanese and other local dialects.

Government: Republic.

Travel Issues: Nationals of about 62 countries have the facility to obtain a tourist visa on arrival for a period of 30 days at one of the 14 airports and 23 seaports of Indonesia. However these visas may not be converted to another category or extended. All others need to apply for a valid visa at their nearest embassy. All travellers need to possess a passport with at least 6 months validity and documents proving onward or return journey. No vaccinations are mandatory. Travellers from about 11 neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines etc do not require a visa to enter Indonesia but have to enter through stipulated ports. Enquire at your nearest embassy to ascertain your requirements.

Health & Safety: Indonesia is said to pose high risk of infection if precautions are not taken against Hepatitis A and E, typhoid, malaria, dengue fever, avian flu, and diarrhea.


Children in Indonesia

The People

Indonesia has about 300 ethnic groups each with their own specific cultural patterns and beliefs. A mix of European, Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultural heritages go together to form the Indonesian ethnicity. People of Indonesia are known for their extremely friendly demeanour and welcoming attitudes. However, they have conservative attitudes governing their social behaviour.

The Religion

Indonesia is an Islamic country but is secular in nature. Various faiths are practiced by the citizens without fear. Missionary works have been conducted by North American churches but such activities are restricted in certain areas. The Aceh region is supposed to be an Islamic state and follows religious tenets very strictly.

Role of Family

Indonesians value the extended family structure and draw great support from the interdependent style of living. Families often share the same accommodation or live nearby within minutes of each other. The oldest male is the patriarch and he has the final say in all matters. Women have the traditional role of housekeeping and are the primary caregivers for children. In the cities there is a break away from tradition and nuclear families live in high rises. Women work outside homes but not in any large numbers.


Ancestors are revered and remembered via special prayers and religious rituals during their anniversaries and on special days of the departed. Balinese Hindus believe ancestors to have powers that can protect and help the living members of the family if they are shown ample respect. On the other hand, if ignored, they can turn spiteful and cause destruction and sorrow. Funeral rituals are extremely elaborate and as extravagant as a family can afford.

Recreational Activities

Badminton and tennis are national favourites. Traditional forms of recreation include cockfighting, kite flying, bull racing, and boat racing. Another old favourite is sepak takraw played with a rattan ball. Some forms of martial arts like Pencak silat have avid followers.

Anything else important for this culture

Indonesians have a laid back and relaxed attitude to life and are often taken aback with the hurried lifestyle of westerners. They are a very conservative society and hold fast to religious beliefs. There is a social hierarchy that might not be visible to outsiders, but which nevertheless pays to be followed.


Meetings & Greetings

Greetings take the form of a low bow that is done at a slow pace to show respect. the more the respect the lower the bow when greeting elders. A limp handshake followed by “Selamat” is also acceptable. Others merit a slight bow or even just placing your right palm over the heart.


Often first meetings revolve around getting to know each other rather than discussing anything serious. The purpose is to avoid loss of face to any one concerned. Loss of face or malu is an Indonesian concept that focuses on avoiding humiliation or embarrassment to any one. The use of passive voice, avoiding direct confrontation, denial, or arguing, and generally beating about the bush rather than coming to the point is all a means of avoiding loss of face. Introductions have to be made starting with the eldest person first.

Gift Giving

Gift giving is an accepted mode of showing appreciation or goodwill. If invited to a home it is good to arrive with a token gift. Avoid buying locally available items that may be everywhere. Souvenirs from your land or a box of fancy chocolates may be ideal.

Dress Code

Indonesia is a very conservative society and it is important to cover up, especially for women. Keep shoulders and knees well covered. It is important to don formal suits for business meeting even in hot humid temperatures.

Dining Etiquette

Dress formally as casual attire may be considered insulting. While at the dining table again wait to be seated. Do not begin to serve or eat till the elders have done so. Avoid alcohol and pork products if dining in mixed company.

Visiting a home

If invited for dinner at a home, it is alright to arrive a few minutes late but do not delay further. Bring a token gift for the hostess. Leave your footwear outside and once inside wait to be invited to be seated.

Communication Style

Though not many people speak English it is surprisingly easy to communicate as far as basic needs are concerned. Indonesians are extremely warm and eager to help foreigners who appear at a loss. Do not attempt direct conversation with the opposite gender unless they initiate it.

Dos and Don’ts

The head is considered sacred, so do not touch anyone on the head. If you do so accidently, apologize profusely. Do not use your left hand to hand over things such as business cards, money, or food. Do not photograph people without permission. Foreigners are not expected to know the nuances of Indonesian behaviour, but if you do your attempts are well appreciated and you earn their respect. Avoid causing embarrassment or loss of face to your counterparts by not raising your voice, loud laughter, and poor jokes.

Kid with hat and rice fields by John Yavuz Can

Birds photo by flydive

Traditional Dance by giuseppeportale_cartorange

2 kids by Victor Velez

Ocean by Ilse Reijs and Jan-Noud Hutten

carving by marc_smith

Food stand by Apple Jia

Moped by simminch

Cutest Thank You Ever

by admin |

Child Sponsorship, Ways to Give

Here it is. A very cute thank you from kids around the world for their Compassion International Sponsorship.

If you want to sponsor a child, visit the page below to start. Sponsorship is $38 a month and provides food, clean water, medical care, educational opportunities and the good news about Jesus Christ. When you sponsor a child, you’ll receive your child’s photo, personal story and a child sponsorship packet.

When children find out they’ve been sponsored, the joy they feel is indescribable. Just knowing that someone across the globe cares means more than you can imagine. Sponsoring a child will profoundly change the future for your child, and will change your own life as well.

Is Your Money Really Doing Any Good?

by admin |

Child Sponsorship, Ways to Give

If you have ever written a check to answer the call to help those who need it in some other country, then like me, you probably wonder what really happened to it. You probably wondered if it is really doing any good and if the people that needed it ever even got it. Well, yesterday, I just learned about a really cool video that answered this question in a very satisfying way.

It is the video of a young women meeting her sponsor for the first time after 15 years.

Through Compassion International sponsorship, Rafonzel Fazon was was able to escape her life of poverty and attend a University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. At a Compassion International conference, she was asked to be a guest speaker and tell everyone what sponsorship had done for her. As a surprise, Compassion brought her sponsor there to watch the talk and then surprise her by meeting her for the first time.

It is very touching. The beginning has an intro that is a little long. The meeting starts at the 35 second mark.

Mercy Me Discusses Child Sponsorship

by Melissa Chang |

Missions Organizations, Poverty, Ways to Give

Maybe you are interested in missions, or going overseas one day, but do you know that you can have an overseas impact right now, from wherever you are? It’s called child sponsorship.

I am sure you have heard an ad or seen a presentation at some point, but watch this great video from Mercy Me about their experience with child sponsorship. All the band members of Mercy Me sponsor children through Compassion International from all over the world. Some members have even had the opportunity to meet their sponsored children in person.

Here, they discuss what they have learned and what they have gained from their experience.

If you are interested in learning more, visit Compassion International or World Vision.

Famous Missionary: Everett Swanson

by Melissa Chang |

Famous Missionaries, Missions Organizations, Orphanages, Poverty

Everett Swanson

To be honest, Everett Swanson isn’t that famous. However, he should be. His actions have led to MILLIONS of children being fed, clothed, and educated around the world.

It was 1952. Everett was a pastor who volunteered to go to Korea during the war to preach to the troops. He had never before been to another country. He was only there for a few days. But those days changed not only his life, but millions of lives around the world.

Everett Swanson in KoreaAs he was taking a walk a young boy ran up, stole his coat, and ran off. Everett ran after the boy to get his coat back. As he rounded a corner, he ran smack into the middle of a huge neighborhood of shanties. He saw his coat laying in an open doorway of one of those wooded shacks. He went to pick it up, thinking the young thief had dropped it and run off. 

To his surprise, as he lifted the coat, there was the young boy, frightened, shivering, and horribly thin. As his eyes grew accustomed to his surroundings, he noticed half a dozen more small children shivering under rags. He later learned that these were orphans whose parents had been killed in the war. Quickly he went to a local storefront to get them some hot soup and blankets.

Everett Swanson with young childOnce back in his room at the base, he couldn’t get the kids off his mind. The next day he went back. In front of his shanty, there was a large garbage type truck throwing rags into the back. As he got closer, he realized with horror that the rags were children who had not made it through the night. Even more horrible, he realized this truck was going through the entire neighborhood, not just this one building. There were starving and dying children everwhere.

Finally, it was time to return. On the plane he kept hearing in his mind, What are you going to do? What are you going to do?  Instead of ignoring this voice, he actually did something. He collected money to begin a fund to help those children. Eventually, Compassion International was founded. Over 1 million children have been supported by individuals hoping to make a difference in the lives of hungry children all over the world.

Here is a video about Everett Swanson’s life, featuring the President of Compassion International, Wes Stafford.

Turkey: Etiquette, Customs, Facts and Vital Information

by Melissa Chang |

Cultural Sensitivity, Middle East, Turkey, Turkey


Mosque in Turkey
Photo by David Spender

little mapLocation: South Eastern Europe and Asia Minor; bordered on the Northeast by Armenia, Georgia, and the Black Sea, in the East by Iran, in the Southeast by Iraq, in the West by Syria, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Aegean Sea, and in the Northwest by Greece and Bulgaria.

Capital: Ankara Climate: Typical Mediterranean climate of hot summers and mild winters Population: 71,158,647 according to 2007 estimates. The economy is industry and agriculture based. A growth spurt in private sector has added to the economic strength. Unemployment stands at about 10%. Ethnic Make-up: Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20%

Turkish PortReligions: Muslims 99.8%, Christians and Jews 0.2%. The secular government guarantees freedom of worship. It grants all religious groups the right to carry out evangelistic missions, but arrests of Christian missionaries by the police are common.

Language: Turkish, Kurdish, Dimli, Azeri, Kabardian Government: Republican Parliamentary Democracy

Travel Issues: Citizens of Austria, Belgium, Brazil, British passport holders of Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, U.K., and U.S. require a visa to enter Turkey but can get them at major ports of entry at the border, with a valid passport at hand. This would be for a maximum stay of 3 months. Anything longer requires a visa application.

Health & Safety: Visitors to Turkey are advised to take immunization shots against hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, MMR, tetanus and diphtheria. Malaria might be a risk if you intend to leave the trodden path and travel in the rural areas.

Brian Snelson
Photo by Brian Snelson


2 boys in TurkeyThe People: For the Turkish people, hospitality is a way of life and goes way back in tradition. They often go out of their way to accommodate a guest and make them welcome. They are very proud about their rich history and heritage and are happy to talk about it.

The Religion: The major religion is Islam and Christians are a minority.

Role of Family: They have very close and possessive family relationships. The seniors are respected and taken good care of till the end. Children continue to live with their parents till they get married and often their financial needs are met right up to then. This care and concern is returned in the old age of the parents.

Whirling DervishRecreational Activities: Strenuous physical sports such as mountaineering, winter sports such as skiing, and water sports in the Mediterranean coast are widely popular.

Anything else important for this culture: Always acknowledge and greet the senior-most person first. Jumping queues is not considered particularly rude, so it’s best to be patient.


Meetings & Greetings: Shaking hands is the ordinary form of greeting. Traditional values and norms of Islam guide everyday manners and behavior. If interacting with traditional people and elders, the Islamic greeting of Asalaam um alaikum is more acceptable. Women are less conservative than in other Muslim nations and may shake hands with males. Close relations kiss on the cheek as greeting and leave-taking.

Turkish Coast
Photo by Kusadasi Guy

ladies in IstanbulCourtesy: It is rude to sit with your legs askew. Always cross them or keep them together, especially if someone is directly opposite you. It is not courteous to inquire about female relatives, but it is acceptable to talk about family and children.

Gift Giving: This is not a particularly Turkish custom. But if you’re invited to someone’s home, it would be a nice gesture to carry some chocolates or candies for the family, especially if there are children in the house. Alcohol should not be gifted to Muslims unless you’re sure they imbibe.

Dress Code: Being a conservative community that values tradition highly, you would be well advised to abide by the prevalent dress code. For formal occasions and business meetings, men wear business attire complete with tie. Women may wear business suits that ensure their skirts are knee length or longer. Informal wear for women should cover shoulders, arms, and legs. In rural areas, a head scarf is advised.

Turkish HousesDining Etiquette: Always leave your foot wear outside when invited to dine at someone’s house. Take along a gift that is not too ostentatious. This should be discreetly offered to the host. Wait to be shown to your seat. There is a protocol to this based on hierarchy where the senior most person is seated furthest from the entrance.

If it is a traditional affair, you will be seated on carpets on the floor and eating from a communal dish. You will have to eat with your hands, and for this you should only use the fingers of your right hand. There will be a ritualistic washing of hands before and after dining.

Vendor in TurkeyVisiting a home: When visiting a home, you need to show your appreciation for the honor by giving a suitable gift. Do not offer flowers, but chocolates, sweets, and fruits are acceptable. Leave your footwear outside. You should accept the hospitality graciously and never decline any offer of food and drink.

Communication Style: A ‘Yes’ is indicated with an upward nod, and a ‘No’ is the same gesture with raised eyebrows followed by a hissing ‘tsk’. You can address a man by his first name, followed by ‘bey’ and a woman by her first name and ‘hanim.’ If the person has a professional title, make sure you use that.

Dos and Don’ts: Being a secular state, alcohol is freely available. But you have to keep in mind that Muslims fast in the holy month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk and it would be a good move on your part to not indulge in their presence. Refrain from conversing about contentious politics or current affairs.

Spice Market Istanbul
Photo by Brian Snelson

Man smiling by cocate
Houses by Veyis Polat
2 ladies by sly06
Dancer and boats by Kivanc Nis
2 boy by Alexander De Luca

How to Connect With Unreached People Groups in Your Own Backyard

by Melissa Chang |

Missions at Home, Strategy


In the United States, there are unreached people groups who are here attending universities, visiting family and friends, or making a new life. Only 2.4% of the population of the United States in unreached, but that 2.4% is important. So, once you take note and find out where to find the unreached in your own backyard, how do you connect?

1. Say Hello

The first step is to say, “hello.” Instead of just going around business-as-usual, take the time to be friendly. Eventually you can strike up a conversation and create some friendly small talk. Even if your neighbor isn’t unreached, it is always a good reminder to try to keep from going through life with our heads down. Looking around and connecting with others is always a first step.

2. Take Interest

Another thing you can do to connect with your unreached neighbors is to find out about their country. Feel free to ask them where they are from and to take an interest in their customs and even beliefs. It might be nice to find out how to say, “hello” in their language to show your interest in and respect for their culture and who they are.

3. Invite Them Over

Eventually, if you become friends, you might want to invite their family over for dinner or to go out. They might feel more comfortable coming to a new home if their whole family is invited. They might not feel comfortable enough to say yes, but keep trying to be creative and let the Holy Spirit lead you. Find our their favorite meal. Perhaps they would be willing to meet you out for dinner.

3. Join a Minisry

If making your own connections is proving to be difficult, another option is to join with a ministiry already in place that is reaching out to international students. You could volunteer at an ESOL class or an International Ministy at a university.

Honestly, there is no secret formula for reaching out to your unreached neighbors. Caring and taking the time to try is what is truly important. If you want a great resource to give you more ideas, visit ReachingInternationals.com.

Photo by spaceodissey

How to Find Unreached People Groups in Your Own Backyard

by Melissa Chang |

Missions at Home, Strategy


As we discussed last week, there are indeed unreached people groups in the United States. Many of these return back to their original countries or have friends and family there that they communicate with and visit regularly. The exciting thing is that you can help reach the unreached right in your own backyard.

The first step,  however, is to figure out how to find them.

1. Keep Your Eyes Open

As you walk through your neighborhood and visit your local shops and restaurants, keep an eye open for who is living next door or working at your local businesses. Unreached people can be Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, and more. They might come from India, Pakistan, China, the Middle East, and many other countries. Recently, I met a wonderful family that owns a local pizza shop who came here recently from Iraq. If you live in a city, it will be much easier to find those from unreached areas, but even in rural areas you might be surprised at who your neighbors are.

2. Check Your Local Universities

Another way to find unreached people groups in your area is to check with ministiries at your local university. To find out which organizations are working with International students, ask the university, your local church, or do an online search. You can also check with Intervarsity, Navigators, or Campus Crusade for Christ. If your university does not have a ministry there, you can volunteer to be a host family.

Now that you know where to look for unreached people groups in your own backyard, you just need to know how to reach out to connect with them.

Got any more ideas? Just put them in the comment section.

Tune in next week to find out How to Connect with Unreached People Groups in Your Own Backyard.

Photo by maureen lunn

Are There Unreached People Groups in the United States?

by Melissa Chang |

Missions at Home, Strategy


The good news for those of you who care about reaching unreached people groups but can’t go overseas right now is that the answer to the question is Yes. There are 60 unreached people groups represented in the U.S.

However, before we begin, I do want to point out that only 2.4% of the U.S. population is considered unreached. That is really not a very high number. Consider, for example, Iran. 99.4% of their population is unreached. Therefore, if you are going to try to argue that it is more necessary to stay in the U.S. than try to go to Iran to find the unreached, your argument might fall a bit short. (Obviously, going to Iran and getting in would be much harder, but our point is not difficulty but necessity.) However, since you are already here in the U.S. for now, you might as well work on reaching that 2.4%.

Many students come from overseas and unreached areas to attend school here and then return to their home countries. In fact, there are several world leaders who have attended school in the U.S. These include the Presidents of Zimbabwe, Taiwan, Pakistan and the Phillipines, as well as the Kings of Nepal and Jordan. And that is just a part of the list. In addition, there are many others who come to the U.S. seeking a better life. These people often have friends and family that visit them and then return to their home countries.

Tune in next week to find out how to find these unreached people groups in your own neighborhoods.

Photo by chrisbb@prodigy.net

What’s the Deal with the 10/40 Window?

by Melissa Chang |

Facts and Stats, Strategy

If you look at the world to see where the most unreached with the gospel are located, you can see a trend. Check out this map from the Joshua Project. The area in red is the least reached.



A man named Luis Bush was looking at a similar map and statistics and realized that the majority of the unreached people are in an area within 10 and 40 degrees latitude from Western Africa to Eastern Asia. Luis drew a box around this area and called it the 10/40 box. However, his wife, Doris, suggested he call it the 10/40 window because it is a window of opportunity.










This area has 2/3 of the entire world’s population, but it is well over 90% unreached with the gospel. Not only that, but only about 4% of Christian missionaries are working there. This is also because this area is resistant to the gospel and has well-established religions and governments contrary to the Christian message. Most of the world’s Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists live within the 10/40 window.











Since so many of the world’s unreached are in that area, some missions organizations are focusing on that area specificially and some are seeing amazing results. There is a new movie coming out that is going to highlight some of the changes and exciting things God is doing there. See the trailer below.



For more information on the 10/40 window visit Joshua Project or Light the Window.

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