The Death of a Man of God
I received some sad, glad, and expected news this morning from Indonesia.
I’m talking about the passing of Robinson Hutapea, a pastor-evangelist in Jepara, on the island of Java.
Robinson is now in heaven, as of this morning. He died in the hospital after a long illness. His son Victor sent me this email to notify me, so I could notify you.
From: victor hutapea [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 2:41 AM
Subject: my dad Robinson in Heaven now.
thanks you for your pray and support.
Today, 8 Desember 2008. 9.11 am. my dad pass away.
God called him back to Heaven.
we miss my dad. and keep pray for our family so that God give us strength.
we will do furnural on thirsday.
Thanks you again for your pray. please give this information to those who know my dad.
I knew of Robinson before I actually met him. Because of Pastor Steve Braselton and his wife Nora’s influence, Calvary Chapel began supporting Robinson. He was a dynamic, authoritative, bold, passionate soul winner and pastor, and the fellowship of CCMB really got behind his ministry, and has continued to do so up to the present.
I was finally able to meet Robinson in 1983 during my first of five trips to Indonesia. He was a true man of God—and also humble and funny at the same time. Whenever we’d be around him, there would always be lots of laughter. Example: driving in Indonesia can be a harrowing experience. Robinson would often joke by asking (after a very close call) “Do you want to live, or do you want to die?” Then he’d laugh.
Once when I was speaking in his church in Jepara, I decided to tell a joke. Robinson was translating for me. Jokes don’t always work well with translation, but I went for it anyway. When I told the punch line, the people roared with laughter. I was stoked… I must have really hit a home run with that one.
Years later, Victor told me what really happened. As I was preparing to give the punch line, Robinson had said to the people, “The joke that the American is telling isn’t very funny. When I tell you, I want you to laugh very hard so he’ll feel good about the joke.”
What a guy.
I’m going to miss him. My very first thought upon reading the news this morning was, “Awesome! He doesn’t have to suffer any more, and he gets to see Jesus!” My very next thought was, “Bummer that I didn’t get to go down there and see him (like I’d wanted to) before he went to be with the Lord.” But then I quickly realized that I’ll see him real soon anyway. Our lives are like a vapor, James tells us. So heaven will be upon us all pretty quickly—either at our departure in death or at the rapture.
Robinson was/is a tremendous encouragement and inspiration to me. I was only 30 years old when we met; yet he was so anxious to have me teach the Bible anywhere and everywhere he could take me. I’ll never forget that first trip back in 83’… teaching a survey of Galatians and Ephesians in Bali, and Robinson taking copious notes and asking for more. To me that was amazing. He made me feel like I actually had something to contribute to him, to his church body, and to the pastors that he oversaw on the island of Java.
I am convinced that our church’s relationship with Indonesia was a key part of the fruitfulness of our ministry over the years. The believers in Robinson’s church would meet for prayer at 4:30 am. We were continually on their prayer list. Their prayers for us strengthened and sustained us, and our financial support and Bible study resources enabled them to do what they did in reaching thousands for Christ. It was a great ministry relationship.
Robinson told me many years ago that he couldn’t see himself continuing to preach much past his 40’s. Life spans aren’t as long in Indonesia. Yet, he kept going well into his 60’s. The Lord empowered him greatly.
Robinson could have taken over a number of huge churches in big cities. That would have meant a much easier life for him and his family; better financial support, more recognition and exposure, and all that goes with it. But he felt called by God to pastor in Jepara and to evangelize the villages of Middle Java and the outlying islands of Indonesia. His reward will most certainly be great, because he was incredibly faithful and obedient to his heavenly calling.
Please pray for the funeral on Thursday (they’re 15 hours ahead of us). I’m sure many Muslims will pay respects, as Robinson was a great soul winner among them (over 90% of the 235 million Indonesians are Muslim). Pray that the gospel will go out in power, as Robinson would want it.
Also please pray for the Hutapea family, as Victor has requested. As a family they have given their lives for the spread of the gospel. They are worthy.
Robinson will be missed, but heaven will love having him.
Thanks for reading.