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Pentecostal Theological Education: Indonesia

What does Spirit-filled education look like around the world? Theologian and educator, Ekaputra Tupamahu speaks with about Pentecostal theological education in Indonesia. Part of the Pentecostal Theological Education Around the World series. When did American Pentecostal missionaries start to go to Indonesia?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: To make a long story short, early American Pentecostal missionaries, especially the van Klaveren dan Groesbeek families from Seattle, came to Indonesia in the 1920s, which was about 14 years after the Azusa Street Revival. It is important to note, however, that some ministry work had already been done by Dutch Pentecostals prior to the coming of the Americans. Were the missionaries from a particular denomination or were there representatives from various Pentecostal groups?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: Early American missionaries in Indonesia came from various Pentecostal groups such as Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Church of God in America, and other groups. Did the missionaries focus on one particular area of Indonesia or were they spread out in different parts of the country?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: They focused on many different parts of the country. Some missionaries (e.g., William Arnold Parson, Eugene Loving, Ralph Devin, etc.) worked in the eastern part of Indonesia. The Short family worked primarily in Kalimantan. The Busby family focused on the western part of Indonesia, especially in North Sumatra.


How long after their arrival in Indonesia did American Pentecostal missionaries start schools for theological education and what was their purpose for starting these schools?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: Well, when the first Assemblies of God missionary, Kenneth Short, arrived in Indonesia, he immediately planned on establishing a Bible school. Almost all Assemblies of God missionaries focused their worked on planting and developing theological schools in Indonesia. Did the founders of these schools have advanced theological degrees?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: If “advanced theological degrees” means graduate degrees (master or doctoral degrees), then the answer is “no.” Most, if not all, of them didn’t have such degrees themselves. They were mainly trained in a Bible Institute setting. So the goal of theological training in Indonesia has been mainly for evangelism and pastoral purposes, not for producing theological scholars or academicians, which is a reflection of these missionaries’ training. In the past 15 years, we have begun to see more Pentecostal missionaries with master’s degrees and PhD’s in Indonesia. Are any of the schools that can trace their roots back to the early missionaries still operational today?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: I can speak about Assemblies of God schools in Indonesia. Yes, most of them can trace their roots back to the early American missionaries. Has any of your own theological education been in a school founded by the early Pentecostal missionaries?

Ekaputra Tupamahu: I did my undergrad at an Assemblies of God Bible school, namely Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Satyabhakti, in the city of Malang, East Java. The school was founded by two female American missionaries, Marcella Dorf and Margareth Brown in 1955. Speaking of the role of women in ministry, that school was the testimony of the fruit of their labor. It has produced so many pastors, missionaries, church leaders, and teachers in Indonesia.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2017

About the Author: Ekaputra Tupamahu is a Ph.D. candidate in New Testament studies at Vanderbilt University. After finishing his studies at Asia Pacific Theological Seminary in Baguio City, Philippines in 2005, he taught theology and biblical studies for several years at Sekolah Tinggi Teologi Satyabhakti in Indonesia. He then moved to the United States to attend Claremont School of Theology in 2009. Prior to pursuing his doctoral studies, he worked as a pastor of a church in Redlands, California. He, his wife, and two children currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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