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I am the oldest son of four brothers and was born on April 24th, 1963, in the city of Boyolali, Central Java. They named me Wiyono, which means welfare and salvation. My parents were officially Muslims, but they leaned more to the “Javanese mystical tradition” (“Kebatinan”) in their religious practices than to official Islam. When I was in 6th grade, they were intensely practicing Javanese mysticism, which is a traditional Javanese mystical belief influenced by animistic, Hindu-Buddhist beliefs along with Islamic sufism. Therefore, I was raised in this Islamo-Javanistic mystical environment when I was a child and, since my father was more intense in this Javanese mystical practice rather than Islamic one, he taught me the same things.
In 1977 there came a Christian evangelist to my village from the city of Rembang, seven hours to the North. He was a former Muslim whose name was Abednego Azhari. This evangelist preached about “Isa Al-Masih” (“Jesus Christ”) to my parents. By their own choice and realization of the truth, at last my parents converted to Christianity and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized as Pentecostal Christians.
I was opposed to the idea of our house being used for Christian gatherings for worship, but I had to honour my parents and decided not to make trouble for them. I felt that the devil disliked the use of my parent’s home as a Christian place of worship. As a result, I was used by the devil to make trouble, and I threw pebbles and stones whenever they had gatherings for worship. However, to my surprise, they were not angry at me; instead they prayed for my conversion.
At that time, I was still in the second year of Junior High School. When I graduated from this Junior High School, an uncle of mine (the half-brother of my father) who had converted to Christianity and had became a Pentecostal pastor, Pastor Thomas Sutomo, took me to live with his family. Slowly, my heart began to soften, and I became a Christian and was baptized by my uncle. Yet I did not know much about good and true Christianity; I felt that I was just a Christian in name only. Still, the bottom line was that I chose to be a Christian voluntarily without being forced by anyone.
This Pentecostal pastor uncle of mine sent me to continue my High School studies. When I was in the third year of my High School days, I developed a serious illness. No one understood the type of sickness I had; even medical doctors could not help me. Then, in the middle of this critical condition, I began to pray to “Isa Al-Masih” (“The Lord Jesus Christ”) requesting His mercy for my healing so that I could attend my High School examination and graduate well.
Praise the Lord that He answered all my petitions to Him! In light of this, I made a vow to God to return His love by becoming a minister of the Gospel in order to be able to serve mankind. I informed my pastor uncle of my decision, but he was sceptical about what I said to him.
God’s plan did not fail, and I remained unwavering in my resolve to become a minister of the Gospel. So I prayed again to God to send a pastor to help me to realize this calling. At last, God answered my prayer by sending a pastor from Palembang city, Sumatra, who was a former Muslim, Pastor Yepta Alwilius Abdullah. He came to my town to lead a revival meeting in 1983. I confided my desire to become a minister of the Gospel to him, and I was received by him; my pastor uncle gave me permission.
After that, I joined this pastor to preach the Gospel by going around to cities and villages in Central and East Java and other areas. Through these ministries I grew up spiritually, and at last I asked to be sent to Seminary. My pastor uncle sent me to a Bible School for one year, and then I returned to my hometown to help his ministry in the Pentecostal Church. After I completed my obligation to do field work ministry, I yearned to go to Seminary again. Before I was able to go to the Seminary, around the year 1990, I met Fr. Daniel in Solo and in my hometown, Boyolali. Fr. Daniel had been invited to preach in a revival meeting for the youth, and I was chairman of the board members of the organization for the event. Through the preaching and teaching of Fr. Daniel at that time, I came to know Orthodox Christianity a little. But, I had not yet decided to join the Orthodox Church, because my knowledge of Orthodox Christianity was still scanty. I still had strong emotional ties with Pentecostalism, and I had not yet felt the calling to become Orthodox.
As life went on, I never saw Fr. Daniel again, and I decided to continue my study at the Indonesian Evangelical Theological Seminary, the Indonesian branch of Dallas Theological Seminary, outside of Jogyakarta , one hour west of Solo City. For three years I studied at this seminary, which strongly promoted Pre-Millenial and Dispensational theology.
After my graduation I joined the “Indonesian Gospel Gathering Church” (“Gereja Perhimpunan Injil Indonesia”). From 1989 until June, 2004, I was a Pentecostal pastor and also a board member of the denomination’s central board. In 1989, I married my wife, Sri Supatmi, and together we have two sons, Ruben and Beny.
Coming to Orthodoxy
With the passage of time, there were a lot more demands on the ministry. In order to answer these needs and for the spiritual welfare of my congregation, I needed to get my first stratum degree for my theological studies. Thus, I enrolled myself at the Apostolic Theological Higher Institution in the year 2001.
I felt that only God directs this life. I could see this in my life and the life of my family as well in my ministry. Thus, in the year 2003, God moved my heart to go to the Orthodox Church in Solo City and meet Fr. Alexios, the priest of the community. I told him that I had once met Fr. Daniel, and I wanted to learn about the Orthodox faith that came from the Middle East. Fr. Alexios received me cordially, and the seed of Orthodoxy that had been planted by Fr. Daniel in me began to sprout again and slowly grow as Fr. Alexios with patience watered and nurtured it.
My wife and I did not find it boring to learn from Fr. Alexios. Finally I, with my family, decided to become Orthodox Christians. I continued preaching the Gospel and became more confident in my understanding of Christianity because now I was in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Here, in this Church, I received the straight, correct, and true teaching of the Apostles. Soon there were about 22 Church members who expressed their desire to join us in the Orthodox Church. among them my own parents. The peak of this spiritual journey was when, on July 5th, 2004, we were all baptized in the Orthodox Church. On that day, an Orthodox community in Boyolali came into existence, which to this day continues to grow very rapidly.
To my joy, I was informed by Fr. Alexios that Fr. Daniel had decided with the blessing of Archbishop Hilarion to ordain me as an Orthodox priest. This happened because of the recommendation of both Fr. Daniel and Fr. Alexios to His Eminence, Archbishop Hilarion. To perfect my preparation for becoming an Orthodox priest, my wife and I renewed our marriage vows in the Orthodox Sacrament of Matrimony, which was conducted by Fr. Alexios in the month of December, 2005. At last, on March 3, 2005, I was blessed into the rank of Reader, then Subdeacon. On March 4th, 2005, I was ordained as a Deacon, and lastly, on March 5, 2005, I was elevated to the Priesthood by His Eminence, Archbishop Hilarion.
After my ordination, God fulfilled His promise in that my former evangelist, Pastor Yepta Alwilius Abdullah, and his family, with his Church members, joined the Orthodox Church, and all of them have been baptized in the Orthodox Church.
I pray that those who read this testimony of mine will be blessed by God in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!