Ben & Gratia Owens: Being called to serve God in Bali
Ben, can you tell us how long you have been in indonesia now and a couple of things that are really different to life in Australia?
I have been in Indonesia almost 3 years now, wow how time flies! There are many things that are different between Indonesia and Australia, some that might surprise you! One is that we have to pay-before-we-use electricity, which involves going to the local 7-11 and buying a pre-paid top-up code. Without planning this can sometimes lead to un-predicted blackouts when the meter runs out, which have been at the most inconvenient times, especially if it happens between 1 am & 4 am when the electricity system is down. So once the AC goes out, it might mean no sleep, this makes thinking ahead crucial.
Food can be very cheap here if you eat like a local, or really expensive if you want to live like an Aussie. For example one of our favourite foods is Chicken Sate and Rice which including delivery for 2 people costs $4 and it tastes like heaven (not quite sure what it is doing to the cholesterol however). However if you want cheese or wine you are paying almost double as it can be around $40 for a bottle of basic Jacobs Creek and not even the Brits would be fooled its worth that much! The traffic is crazy here, with almost no policing of the roads, however surprisingly there is a low amount accidents that happen or are seen by us. In Sydney most people obey the rules really well but because they are in a rush, it can often lead to accidents. In Bali people live in the moment, which surprisingly makes drivers a lot more reactive to crashes. I have never seen a bad crash in Bali or Jakarta, but that could also be because the traffic is often slow.
Gratia, can you tell us 2 of your fav things about Ben, and let us know about one of his bad habits?
His humour and perceptiveness. Ben knows how to make people laugh their belly out and he is also very perceptive especially on the issues that really bother him, most of the time he will spend time trying to find good solutions for them. As frr as bad habits go, he doesn't have any... Jokes! He can sometimes change the plan (as he is reactive) for certain things. Or doesn't like to make plans for things.
Can you tell us about any of the things that are going well at the moment?
Ben: Church is really exciting at the moment, we started going to a church plant called ISB (International Service Bali) was going to be IBS but the medical connotations might have put people off! We joined the church after it had been started for 5 months, its been awesome to see it grow in different ways, this Easter it had over 100 people there, we have also seen a lot of growth in the people there as they seek to live more by the spirit in their every day lives. I have been looking after the Music Ministry at the church. It has been a challenge but we are seeing a lot of improvement in different areas and an increase of unity in the team that was not there at the start. My health has been really good in Bali, I suffered a lot from sinus and chest issues in Sydney which didn't seem to improve in Jakarta, but in Bali they have been less frequent which has made it a lot more enjoyable. We also have a new dog, a Rhodesian Ridge-back. We love taking her to the beach for walks and to Ubud along the rice field terraces. She's a real character, and is a point of humour almost every day. The kids down our road often knock on our door to play with her. It's like having a kid, we often shout, "Sansa your friends are here to play!" She will come bounding from her sleeping spot and go and follow them around for a while.
Gratia: Church has been really exciting for us, more and more each day, especially in this current period. The congregation is actively in mission and interceding for others. Things get tough among the people (problems) but their faith is increasing and very strong. For instance a friend of ours from church was innocently put in jail for a drugs charge. We are praying everyday begging God to help her and we know God will intercede soon, in His perfect time. As far as work, a lot of things have changed to greater things. We are both trying to start small side businesses in cooking and a Sunglasses venture and so far it seems to be going well and progressing faster that we thought it would be. In our relationship, we are both growing in love, trust and respect. Seems like the first 6 months was the hardest but we experience breakthrough in many areas and we grateful to enjoy the process as well as the outcome. I know God is up to something bigger.
Can you give us some detail about something that is challenging and how can we pray?
Gratia: God been challenging me recently about my calling, I have praying that God will stir my heart and give back the fire that I used to have. He has been restoring me! As He called me to do what He wants me to do, I boldly said yes to it. Kindly pray that, his fire will rest upon me until the job is done, that it may be fruitful and be a blessing for the people around me.
Ben: Well it has been hard and a challenge to find a good job in Bali. I work in an Indonesian run national-plus school, which is a local school which also teaches the British Cambridge system. It is a new-ish school and still developing in many areas. There is often a temptation to leave Bali for this reason, as being a teacher and having worked in IB and Cambridge I often get job offers around Asia from very good schools. However to counter this problem Gratia and I are both trying to set up side businesses, as we believe we are to be tent makers at this time of our lives. So please pray that the businesses are successful, and that God provides. I see a lot of ministry opportunities in the school, we have been given permission to host a Friday night youth group and I lead worship for the mostly non-Christian staff there once a month, so I see a purpose in being there but at the same time it is a big and new challenge.