Saturday, December 3, 2022


From 6 August to 2 September, Willem Jansen, Program Coordinator at IofC The Netherlands, visited Initiatives of Change Indonesia. This visit aimed to strengthen the connection and friendship between the two teams, with a focus on IofC Indonesia’s contribution to the international Trustbuilding Program (TPB). How does this team build trust between groups? And whom is on the receiving end of their trustbuilding efforts? As it turns out, IofC Indonesia focuses mainly on improving the relationship between Muslims and Christians.  

‘Peace be upon us’ 

Recently, the team expanded from Jakarta and Yogyakarta to Bandung and Makassar, where Willem attended two 3-day training courses as part of TBP. In Bandung, IofC works closely with two organisations, Peace Generation and the Young Generation Peacemaker Community, which is a fruitful collaboration that makes excellent use of IofC’s core values. IofC was in charge of the program at Makassar, where the team works with the Mahabbah Institute for Peace and Goodness (MIPG), an organisation that emerged from a prior IofC training.  

The Bandung training of August 18-21 was entitled ‘Peace be upon us’, an allusion to the Islamic greeting salaam alaikum, peace be upon you. Young Indonesian Muslims, Christians from different parts of Java, and a group of black American Christians comprised the group. Together with Huda and Nenden from IofC Indonesia and trainers from Peace Generation, Willem led several workshops on healing historical wounds and honest conversation. 

Along the Strait of Makassar 

In Makassar, the training took place in a hotel by the sea, along the Strait of Makassar. Through friends of IofC, we were able to make use of this hotel for a reduced price. This time, the line-up for the program consisted of young Muslims and Christians from the area. Willem asked the participants to render together a timeline of specific personal, local and global histories that helped shape the image of ‘the other’. Of course, this exercise included Indonesia’s colonial history.  

The timeline included significant international events, such as Indonesia’s colonial past, President Sukarno's Proklamasi (Proclamation of Indonesian Independence), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Pancasila (the foundational philosophical theory of Indonesia that recognizes several major religions), the terrorist attack of 9/11, and the attack on a church in Makassar in 2021. Can wounds from the past truly be healed, even when the colonial past is still so visible at ‘Fort Rotterdam’ in Makassar? And how do you deal with a breach of trust after a suicide attack on your church? We concluded that we are not necessarily responsible for these painful histories, but that we are responsible for taking personal actions to rebuild trust on both sides. 

Reflection, correction… 

At the end of the training, this extraordinary group experienced a level of mutual trust that allowed them to ask each other for forgiveness. Muslims asked Christians to forgive them for calling them ‘kaffirs’ (infidels), and for thwarting their efforts to build new churches in Indonesia. Christians asked Muslims to forgive them for stigmatising Muslims as ‘terrorists’ and their often uncritical support of Israel in its oppression of Palestinians. This exchange was an emotional one, as was the careful but sincere embrace that followed afterward.  

We also did an exercise with ‘quiet time’, reflecting on the four IofC values ​​of honesty, purity, selflessness, and love. We felt that the quintessential IofC approach of ‘reflection, correction, direction’ was symbolised in the logo. The family groups, another IofC initiative, returned to reflect on these steps, which the younger participants found a healing exercise. In short, Willem observed how these training courses constructively and effectively used IofC principles and approaches. 

…and progress 

The training weekend on Sulawesi was neatly organised, prepping its participants for a training week in October 2022 during which they will act as facilitators. It is expected that at least 60 people will participate in this October training in Makassar. Willem was impressed by the efforts of IofC Indonesia and how they build bridges between peoples, places, and generations. Building trust, a difficult job, is done here in an extraordinary way.  

Willem’s stay in Indonesia also left a lot of room for light-heartedness. There was dancing and music, an adventurous trip on the ‘banana boat’ at sea, and a refreshing dip in the pool. The board and card games designed by IofC Indonesia offered a fun method for gaining each other's trust. For example, in the collaborative game ‘PEST Attack’ ​​you have to get eliminate a virus from society together. The game teaches us that you sometimes have to let go of your own interests for the sake of trust. An eye-opener! 



Willem Jansen. 
Translated by Shereen Siwpersad.