Indonesian doctors use medical expertise to follow Jesus

Aaron Epp | For Meetinghouse
Doctors Fennisia Wibisono and Elice Nurani lead a health ministry at their church, JKI Injil Kerajaan (Holy Stadium) in Semarang, Indonesia. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Two Indonesian doctors are using their medical degrees to follow Jesus Christ’s instruction to make disciples.

In an afternoon workshop at the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly in Salatiga, Indonesia, Elice Nurani and Fennisia Wibisono talked about the health ministry they operate an hour away at JKI Higher Than Ever in Semarang.

The church, which is part of one of Indonesia’s three MWC member synods, actively participates in preventative and curative fields through education, training and providing health services to congregants and the surrounding community.

“The health ministry that we are doing in the church is part of the Great Commission that God asks us to do,” Wibisono said via a translator.

The doctors treat people at the church and go door to door in the neighbourhood offering medical checkups and providing basic necessities like rice. They also visit slums and prisons to assist people there.

The three most common illnesses that Nurani, Wibisono and their colleagues encounter are respiratory infections, hypertension and diabetes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept the ministry busy, as volunteers have tested people for the virus and assisted with contact tracing. The ministry has supported people who are self-isolating by giving them food, medication and vitamins, and by providing oxygen for those who need it.

The ministry has been a boon to the community at times in the pandemic when COVID-19 has overwhelmed local hospitals. More than once, the local government has approached the ministry for assistance in keeping the community healthy.

“Of course,” Nurani said, when asked if she ever gets frustrated that the government isn’t doing more to help the citizens of Semarang, “but all we can do is pray.”

Both doctors faced significant obstacles in medical school. Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, and Indonesians with Chinese ancestry face bigotry. Nurani and Wibisono encountered discrimination from their professors and bullying from their peers as a result of their Christian beliefs and their Chinese ancestry.

They are grateful that they overcame those obstacles and that they now get to serve their community. Occasionally a patient will tell their life story and the opportunity arises for Nurani and Wibisono to share about their faith.

“Some of them have accepted Jesus,” Nurani said, adding that it is fulfilling to help underprivileged people. “They’re poor, they don’t have the resources to get healthy and live a better life, and we can contribute something that we’re good at.”

Aaron Epp is Canadian Mennonite’s online media manager. This article was written for Meetinghouse, a group of Mennonite publications.

—Corrected Jan. 16, 2023. This article originally misidentifed the church that hosts the health ministry. 

Doctors Fennisia Wibisono and Elice Nurani lead a health ministry at their church, JKI Injil Kerajaan (Holy Stadium) in Semarang, Indonesia. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

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