Youth Venture team goes to Indonesia

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). — Mennonite Mission Network

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 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. GKMI is one of three Mennonite synods in Indonesia.

“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. After going to church, Cox wrote, the group was given a chance to join a children’s ministry to local community families.

From Jakarta, the team took the train to the city of Semarang in central Java. There the group had an interfaith tour, which included visits to a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, an Ahmadiyah mosque, a Catholic dormitory and a Protestant church. During the interfaith tour, the Youth Venture group also learned about traditional musical instruments.


Youth Venture plant trees with the Kendeng community and Mennonite Diaconia Service. — Chialis Thuan

On July 18 and 19, the team stayed at Eco Village at the base of Mount Kendeng, in Pati, Java, Indonesia. They connected with Indonesia Mennonite Diakonia Service (IMDS), a relief agency formed by the GKMI church synod. The young people joined IMDS in planting trees around Eco Village.

The group also had an opportunity to try an art process called ecoprinting. Ecoprinting involves the transfer of visual motifs of leaves, flowers and even tree bark onto fabric by using the natural dyes present in the plant matter. “I was not only captivated by the amazing process but [was] also deeply moved by its positive impact on the environment,” Portia Stokes wrote in a Youth Venture blog entry.

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.” 

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.

This is a shortened version of Mennonite Mission Network’s original article.

Travis Duerksen

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

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