A Devastating Earthquake and a Father’s Unshakable Love
"See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!" — 1 John 3:1 NLT
“Father, help!” The desperate cry burst from the lips and echoed in the hearts of children—and Christians—across Nias as the second massive earthquake in three months shook their island. Although not as widely devastating as the day-after-Christmas Great Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the second earthquake, a magnitude 8.6 shock on March 28, 2005, hit Nias even harder. As many as 2,000 people were killed as their homes or other buildings collapsed on top of them; thousands more were left homeless.
Nias was already a poor place, cut off from the larger world, including the rest of Indonesia, and with few opportunities for education or economic advancement. Although it has been nominally Christian since the days of Dutch colonialism just over a century ago, most people in this isolated place retain much of the religious animism of the old days. Meanwhile, Islam is making inroads. Muslim schools are increasingly common, and poor families in small villages are willing to change their religion in exchange for an education for their children.
When the earthquakes hit, Agusman Farasi, a young, single pastor, had already demonstrated his heart for the children of Nias. His vision was to give them a future by providing education and discipling them. But when he saw the needs of so many children orphaned or made homeless by the quake, he opened his heart and home to those in need, and Iris Indo Pondok Rahmat—House of God’s Mercy—was born.
Pak Agus (Pak is short for Bapak, which means “father”) has since married. In addition to directing the home, he pastors a church and is the district superintendent for the Assemblies of God on the island. He and his wife have three young children of their own now, but his heart is not too full for the other children who need a godly father. Since 2005, many dozens of children have called him Pak, crediting him with giving them a loving home while preparing them spiritually and intellectually for a good future.
The needs are great, the task large, and the resources few. A church that previously contributed to the costs of caring for the children stopped helping in 2016. Since then, Pak Agus has worked and prayed desperately to continue providing a home for the remaining 22 children until they have finished their education and are ready for independent adult life. It has not been easy.
Although the Farasis are encouraged by the successes—watching the children grow, succeed, and become productive individuals—the challenges are daunting. Many of the kids have come from bad situations and dysfunctional families. They have social, emotional, or physical issues—stealing, wetting the bed, malnutrition, past abuse—that stretch to the limit a father’s discipline and a mother’s love. Agus and his wife walk patiently and prayerfully with each child as he or she overcomes damage from the past and embraces healing.
It is not cheap to care for so many children in this poor place, introducing them to Jesus, providing them with an education and chance for a future, and teaching them discipline, honesty, responsibility, and service to others. The biggest fear is that there will not be enough money for the children’s food and living expenses. The home also needs to build a kitchen, a dining room, a hall, and a paved driveway.
Pak Agus has been a faithful, unshakable second father to children unaccustomed to such love and care. With a little help from friends like you, God will see Pak Agus and the children through to the end.