But God’s word can’t be chained, by Greg and Denyse Gripentrog

2 Timothy 2:9-10, 13 Because I preach the Good News of Jesus Christ raised from the dead, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation to those God has chosen. . . If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

After passing the baton of the presidency of our mission organization (One Challenge International http://www.onechallenge.org) we returned to Indonesia on a retirement visa, renewable yearly for a maximum of five years. We assumed leadership of our mission teams there to free the director to invest fully in his exploding ministry. Since we had previously served many years in Indonesia, we received constant invitations all over the islands, and became very involved with the people in our neighborhood, as well.

Thus, coming to the end of our five years was bittersweet. We missed our family in the U.S., but the prospect of saying goodbye to our Indonesian “family” and mission colleagues, as well as tying up all the loose ends and passing on a complex ministry was a challenge difficult to accomplish. Our tickets “home” to Colorado were purchased for June 19.

Our neighbors became like family to us

Then—coronavirus hit. We were advised to leave Indonesia sooner. We already had tickets to participate in two leadership events in Colorado in April. So, we decided to use those tickets for leaving Indonesia, instead of waiting until June. It seemed impossible to be ready in time, but the US State Dept advised that unless we were prepared to remain as overseas residents “for an undetermined period of time,” we should return to the US “as soon as possible.” We knew the looming expiration of our visas meant we should leave.  It felt totally overwhelming, like facing a Goliath.

Except that (1) the conferences were cancelled, and then (2) our April flights were cancelled! And suddenly our situation became even more startling as we searched for flights out of the country and back to the U.S. One after another, travel options disappeared. The only viable possibility became a departure on March 28 from our nearest airport to the capital, giving us just four days to accomplish what we had hoped to do in three months!

The Jakarta airport

But God graciously gave us the resources we needed to blitz through those packed days and, exhausted, board the plane on March 29 from Jakarta for the looong set of flights to Colorado Springs. In God’s providence, we then had two weeks of quarantine to rest and begin our recovery and adaptation to life back in the United States.

This promise, But God’s word cannot be chained, comforts us as we think of all we left behind in Indonesia, whose people claim a large portion of our hearts. The seeds planted during these five years, by God’s grace, will continue to bear fruit. And that’s true even here in the U.S. Adventures await!

One thought on “But God’s word can’t be chained, by Greg and Denyse Gripentrog

  1. This is beautiful. We were there to witness some of the farewell and will forever treasure what we saw, heard, felt and lived in Indonesia with Greg and Denyse. Thank you, Susan and Steve Jones

    Liked by 1 person

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