During the 1950s and 1960s two long-time missionaries, Bill Hekman and Harold Lovestrand (both of whom would later become AMG mission directors in the late 1970s) were ministering in the wild unreached regions of eastern Indonesia. The area where they worked is called Papua Province. This Indonesian province is in the western region of the same group of islands that make up Papua New Guinea.
Harold Lovestrand, who still lives in the Chattanooga area, was imprisoned in 1966 in a story that was reported in the book, Hostage in Jakarta. Harold later became the AMG Southeast Asia mission director in 1978. While he was in prison in Jakarta, he met another inmate, Timbul Panggebean, who was serving out his sentence in the same jail. Harold was in prison because of his ministry efforts in a hostile country that was in the midst of an anti-western political environment. Timbul was in prison because he was a dangerous criminal convicted of several hostile gang-related crimes. Yet, the power of the Gospel, as we know, can overcome any sin.
Timbul came to Christ while in prison and was released in 1968. Bill recruited Timbul to be a Bible student at Berita Hidup’s new Bible Training center. Upon the completion of his training, Timbul and his wife agreed to go to Irian Jaya as missionaries to an unreached people group. They served in eastern Indonesia for several years, and later relocated to a mountain area about three hours from Jakarta in western Java – the most developed and most congested island of Indonesia.
Timbul’s children remember him for many things, including how he was a man of faithful and fervent prayer. He had been forgiven much and greatly appreciated the new life he had been given in Christ. Timbul was of the Batak tribe and was by birthright a leader in his community.
Upon moving to western Java, Timbul established a church – one of the original churches affiliated with the Berita Hidup Bible School. Timbul also established an AMG child and youth development center, along with a growing camping ministry. During those busy days of church growth, Timbul heard of a baby girl who had been abandoned at a local hospital. This little girl, who Timbul would later name Glory, was born with a severe cleft lip and cleft palate. Although Timbul already had five children of his own, he took in little Glory, first as a foster-child and later as a fully-adopted member of the family.
Timbul was able to have Glory’s cleft lip repaired but was never financially able to give Glory the cleft palate surgery she so badly needed. Nevertheless, he prayed faithfully throughout his life that Glory would be healed one day. Timbul died in 2016, never seeing his prayer answered. But God had heard his prayers.
Paul and Lois Jenks, AMG missionaries in Thailand, first met Timbul in the 1980s. In 2017, while leading a team visit, Paul and Lois learned of Glory’s story. Lois asked if she could take a picture of Glory’s medical condition. Strangely, Glory quickly disappeared from the room. Lois and Paul were afraid that she had been offended. But her sister said, “No, she’s in her room crying for joy that someone might be willing to help.” The ministry team raised $1,100 in the following days for the much-needed surgery. At the same time, Paul and Lois contacted Dr. Katsarkas, director of AMG’s St. Luke’s Hospital in Greece. He made arrangements for Glory to have the surgery. And, after two miraculous trips to Greece in September 2017 and October 2018, Glory has been healed.
According to Paul, “It has proven to be one of the most blessed activities with which I have been involved. The bottom line is that our God is still at work. He still loves the little children of the world. He remembers the forgotten ones. He wants us to make world missions a personal priority. We can get so busy doing His work that we fail to see the immediate needs around us – needs we can help meet. We can be an answer to the prayers of those around us.”