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Phil (class of '85) & Jacky Walker

posted Feb 26, 2015, 5:33 PM by Faith Academy Alumni Coordinator   [ updated May 4, 2015, 9:15 PM ]

No chance for anyone to miss this large sign posted Jan 17 at the only entrance to the school
letting the world know the Setia Bible school is closed and sealed.

Please forgive my extreme lack of correspondence the last few months. I want to give an update of the serious situation the school Setia where we serve and live is facing.

Shortly after moving to our current campus 3 years ago.

For those new to Setia (also called Arastamar), the Bible school, located in Jakarta Indonesia has a rich 27 year history of housing, feeding and educating poor young people from around the country before sending them back out to impact and bless villages spread throughout Indonesia with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Their vision is to "reach the unreached, serve the unserved, and love the unloved". Today there are over 50 branch Setia schools and countless GKSI churches (started by Setia alumni and linked to the central school) scattered on every major island and some smaller islands of Indonesia.

Six years ago, Setia was forced by religious extremists from their campus they had been at for almost 20 years. (A short video about the attack and immediate aftermath can be seen at ) They were somewhat "homeless" for 18 months, with groups of the 1,500 students shuffled from one temporarily location to another to try to keep learning while the school looked for a new home, finally settling on this abandoned factory we are at now which they have been renovating into a campus.

For some time, our school has known they would most likely need to leave our large 3 1/2 acre campus. On January 17th, a small group of police, soldiers and local officials came on campus with the plan to lock up all offices, the main chapel (all-school meeting room) and classrooms of our school to stop the school from operating. The school has officially and legally been "closed" by the former school board since April, but has kept operating and even almost doubled their enrollment this year while the school has tried to re-establish their legal standing.

Main entrance
to the offices locked and sealed.

The visitors came short of their goal, expressing a lack of supplies and only locked up several entrances to the main office building, several other offices and 3 of the 9 entrances to the chapel, while pasting bright red "This campus is closed and sealed" signs all over. I have a few times felt like a "real" missionary doing exciting, authentic ministry as I climbed the 3 make-shift wooden steps to squeeze my large body through the small window (the only unsealed entrance on the ground floor) to the main office building. When I am not in a rush, I usually opt for the safer, more comfortable, and less exciting climbing to the 2nd floor, entering the unsealed door and climbing back down stairs to the ground floor.

There were rumors the visitors would come back to finish the job of sealing and locking the chapel, classrooms and offices the following Monday morning but there was a heavy rain all morning to keep them away and we haven't seen them since.

On January 17th, the local officials made it clear they would not seal or close the dormitories and that they would give the school 1 1/2 months to evacuate all 700+ students on campus. Our school has opted to continue to appeal for permission to extend our stay. So far the appeals have failed. The school is still hoping for an extension, but is expecting some sort of evacuation action this upcoming Monday. It is unclear what exactly will happen. We have been told the old board has made arrangements with 3 other Bible schools in Jakarta and plan on Monday to split up the school with a third of the students going to each of those schools and faculty members also given an opportunity to join the students and finish out their year at the school of their choice. It will be interesting to see what happens.

On a more serious note, the old board has initiated a major effort to put the founder and director, Mateus Mangentang, in jail with the charge of recruiting new students to a school that officially did not exist since they officially closed the school knowing full well that the school had no intention of stopping. The old board has the power and has used it to block every attempt of the school to sell the current campus in order to have funds and leverage to buy and start building on new land. The rumor is that they will continue to block the sale until Mateus is imprisoned so that they will get a larger % of the sale and also be able to divert Setia's portion to someone challenging Mateus' leadership of the national Setia movement, further crippling Setia's ability to continue.

On a bright note, Setia leadership has allegedly found 2.75 acres of land even nearer to the airport than we already are (making it even easier for family and friends like you from around the world to visit us in the future :) that they are hoping to buy. If they can buy it, or at least convince local officials of their intent of buying it, they might get an extension of time to move there before getting evacuated.

Please be in prayer for the school, the students, the national reach of branch campuses and churches and alumni working in the Setia system; for the faculty facing major uncertainty, and for our family and ministry as we seek God's wisdom, strength, provision and guidance for upcoming potential challenges and upheaval.

Please also pray for the local officials and others involved that this unbelievably bad testimony of professing Christians fighting ugly with alleged bribing and obvious ungodly attitudes and actions are on display before Muslim mediators and increasingly, in newspapers and on TV in this majority Muslim country.

In Christ, Phil Walker

PS Pray that I will do a better job updating friends and family of the crises as well as sending out our regular family newsletter.

The Walkers (Phil, Jacky, Phil Jr. and newly walking Maria Sophia) - committed to and loving serving at and with Setia.