​The 2023 Youth Venture Indonesia team (left to right). Back row: Portia Stokes and Zahria Elliott. Front row: Kanaan Graham, Alex Guyton, Chialis Thuan*, Andi Santoso* and Chris Cox* (*team co-leaders). 

By Travis Duerksen
Wednesday, August 9, 2023

​From July 12 to July 27, the 2023 Youth Venture Indonesia team travelled across Java and Bali, two neighboring islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The team included youth from C3 Hampton church in Hampton, Virginia; Chris Cox, the discipleship pastor at C3 Hampton; Andi Santoso and Chialis Thuan. Santoso is Regional Director for Asia and Middle East at Mennonite Mission Network. Youth Venture, a short-term service program of Mission Network, connects young adults ages 15-22 with teams of peers and leaders to actively explore and engage in God's work in the world.

The first full day in Indonesia included a visit to the Jakarta History Museum in Jakarta, Java, Indonesia. Left to right: Andi Santoso, Chialis Thuan, Alex Guyton, Zahria Elliott, Portia Stokes and Chris Cox. Photo by Andi Santoso.

The team's time in Jakarta included joining in the Sunday morning service at GKMI (Gereja Kristen Muria Indonesia — Muria Christian Church in Indonesia) Anugerah church. 

"We got to join our friends for their very first English worship service today!" wrote Chris Cox in an Instagram post summarizing the day's events.

"The super awesome Josephine Larissa led us in worship and shocked me when she shared a part of the conversation we had yesterday! Andi Santoso shared a powerful message on abiding in Christ and left room to allow me to speak for a while on what it means to lay down your life for a friend!"

After going to church, Cox wrote, the group was given a chance to be the church by joining in a children's ministry to local community families.

"It was truly amazing to see how much joy the people had and refreshing to have a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a very tangible way!" wrote Cox.

Zahria (left) and Patricia (right) shared stories with community children as part of a children's ministry event. Patricia is a member of the youth group of GKMI ARK (Anugerah Rayon Kembangan) church in Jakarta, which joined the Youth Venture Indonesia group for daily activities together. Photo by Chialis Thuan.

Boys wait anxiously to practice soccer moves with Alex Guyton (center) during a children's ministry event on July 16 in Jakarta. Josephine Larissa (left) led worship earlier that day at GKMI Anugerah, one of the churches that sponsor the local community children's ministry. Photo by Chialis Thuan. 

From Jakarta, the team took the train to the city of Semarang, in central Java. There, they joined in an interfaith tour of the city, which included visits to a Buddhist temple, Hindu temple, an Ahmadiyah mosque, a Catholic dormitory and a Protestant church. Pictured above is the group at Vihara Watugong, a Buddhist temple in Semarang, with the temple leader, Pandhita Aggadhammo Warta (orange shirt).

Back row (left to right): Zahria Elliott, Portia Stokes, Kanaan Graham, Alex Guyton.

Front row (left to right): Chris Cox, Pandhita Aggadhammo Warta, Setyawan Budy (coordinator of the interfaith organization PELITA (Persaudaraan Lintas Agama — Solidarity Across Religion)), Chialis Thuan, Andi Santoso. Photo provided. 

Maulana Saefullah Ahmad Farouk (far right) a leader of Masjid Nusrat Jahan, an Ahmadiyah mosque in Semarang, gives a presentation to the Youth Venture team as a part of the interfaith tour of the city. Left to right: Setyawan Budy, Zahria Elliott, Portia Stokes, Andi Santoso and Maulana Saefullah Ahmad Farouk. Photo by Chialis Thuan.


During the interfaith tour, the Youth Venture group got to learn about traditional musical instruments, including the kulintang. Kanaan Graham, right, played along with a kulintang teacher (left) with PELITA on a bamboo variation of the traditionally gong-based instrument. Video by Andi Santoso.

During the Semarang interfaith tour, group co-leader Andi Santoso (left) was interviewed by Daniel Holy Megasurya (right), a reporter with KuasaKata, an Indonesian news website. Andi's interview, along with an interview with Chris Cox, were featured in KuasaKata's article detailing the interfaith tour. Photo by Chialis Thuan.

July 18-19, the team stayed at Eco Village at the base of Mount Kendeng, in Pati, Java, Indonesia. There, they connected with Indonesia Mennonite Diakonia Service (IMDS), a relief agency formed by the GKMI church synod. Above, Alex Guyton, Kanaan Graham, Portia Stokes, Chris Cox and Zahria Elliott listen as Iwan Firman Widianto (right) explains about the vision and mission of the Eco Village. Photo by Chialis Thuan.

Over the course of a day, the group joined IMDS in planting trees around Eco Village. Above, Alex Guyton helps moved dirt over the base of a newly planted tree. Photo by Chialis Thuan.

One of the activities the group got to participate in while at the Eco Village was the art of ecoprinting. Ecoprinting involves transferring the visual motifs of leaves, flowers and even tree bark onto fabric using the natural dyes present in the plant matter. Above, Portia Stokes agitates fabric during the ecoprinting process.

"I was not only captivated by the amazing process but also deeply moved by its positive impact on the environment," Stokes wrote in a Youth Venture blog entry. Photo by Chris Cox.

"My favorite part [of the trip] was definitely the view from near the village watching the sunset," Kanaan Graham wrote in a Youth Venture blog entry. "The air felt so clear, and even though we were in the mountains, I felt I could breathe easy. Everything felt so small and big at the same time." Photo by Kanaan Graham.

The view from the base of Borobudur temple, the world's largest Buddhist worship site and a UNESCO world heritage location in Central Java, Indonesia. Photo by Chialis Thuan. 

Food was a daily highlight for the Youth Venture team. "On the first day of being in Indonesia, I ate cow brain and had no idea what I had eaten until after!" wrote Zahria Elliott in a Youth Venture blog entry. "It was in a curry. Very well-seasoned and a little chewy. I feel if you’re an adventurous eater, there’s something for everyone in Indonesia’s diverse and delicious food." Photo by Chris Cox.

After joining in the Sunday morning church service with GKMI Ekklesia church in Bali, Indonesia, the Youth Venture team gathered with youth from three area Mennonite churches for worship and fellowship. Pictured above: youth from GKMI Buluh Indah, GKMI Ekklessia, GKMI Ungasan and the 2023 Indonesia Youth Venture team. Photo provided.






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​Travis Duerksen is a writer and multimedia producer for Mennonite Mission Network.



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