All the World's a Classroom

The Man I Love the Most

I wish I could wake up and say it was all just a dream. But it’s not. My beloved father is gone and all I have left now is his memory. To many he was a great leader in the church, a supporter of God’s work. To me he was a loving father, who literally laid down his life for his children.

I was privileged to see God worked in the last few years, months, weeks, and days of his life. I see with my eyes how God worked for his salvation, calling him back into a renewed experience and commitment to serve the Lord. We say we can’t explain the will of God, and sure, there remain numerous ‘why’ questions whose answers I just have to wait for. Yet this time, I can’t help being convinced that God allowed him to rest to save him. Until the last moments, we interceded on his behalf that the Holy Spirit would work in his heart in a mighty way that even on his deathbed there would be nothing between his soul and the Savior. It is a difficult exercise, but we trust the outcome to God fully.

This is a daughter’s simple attempt to remember what God has done. After all is said and done, truly I can say the Lord is good.

Back in 2006

It was during my first summer canvassing that I started a prayer that God would revive my family.  The twists and turns have been unpredictable for sure, but God indeed is still answering that prayer to this day…

End of 2008

My home church experienced God’s … should I say supernatural leading in choosing their elders for 2009. After 12 years, my dad finally let go of a particular burden he had been carrying and accepted the call on his knees. I knew God had something in store for his life then. What I didn’t know was that God was preparing his soul for his life’s end.

February 2009

My dad’s heart condition deteriorated. A surgery was inevitable. With certain fearfulness, we prayed for strength and guidance as we went through the path that God chose for us. Life is in God’s hands.

He went through a critical period of time, but thankfully he went out of it. It was such a joy and a relief. Truly it is a miracle that doctors could cut your heart open and you still live! Mom told us that he too felt that God gave him a miracle coming out of that surgery alive. The results weren’t perfect. The valve in his heart was still leaking, but he was thankful and joyful anyway. Another doctor had told him that without the surgery, he could probably only last for a year maximum with his previous condition…

March 2009

My parents stayed about a week in Malaysia after the surgery and then came home. Of course life was different; Dad was under a strict diet, he couldn’t drink too much water because his lungs had problems, but at the same time his kidneys weren’t doing well either. But he was doing alright. We talked over the phone and webcam, and he looked well.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

As usual over the weekend we talked over webcam. Dad had just got a haircut and it looked cute. He was happy, and I still remember his countenance during this conversation. This would be the last time I would see his smile…

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dad got a fever around evening time and his body was all sore all of the sudden.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

They went to the doctor and he prescribed him some antibiotics to take. His fever didn’t get better though. In the evening he started to lose consciousness. He was awake and doing things, but he wasn’t completely there when Mom would talk to him.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

They went back to the hospital and this time they kept him there. He went into the ICU. His consciousness worsened too, and very soon he was on all kinds of life support. Mom didn’t tell us at this time, but the doctor said that there was little hope of recovering. He was basically in a coma from this time on.

Mom called me and my siblings crying, telling us Dad was in the hospital again. We didn’t know how serious it was; after all I just saw him three days ago.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not knowing what to do or how bad the situation really was, Mom told us that she wanted my brother to go home immediately. My sister and I would be on our toes; we could be going home anytime too.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mom told us all that we should go home. So on this day all of us told our professors and bought our tickets. I can’t put into words what fear and all the things that went on my mind…

I went ahead to ANEW in the evening, a little uncertain whether I should just miss it and get on a flight to Indonesia right away. But it was the right thing to stay. That evening though, Mom called again and told me to talk to Dad over the phone. Even though he was unconscious, he could still hear people talk. I told him to stay strong. I would be coming home soon to see him. It broke my heart…

That night it finally dawned on me that I might be going home to say goodbye. The sadness was suffocating. I got on my knees and stayed there, refusing to get up until God would answer me. I was pleading like I never did before…

What God gave as an answer to me was a picture of Jesus in Gethsemane. If there was a Person who did not want to be separated from His Father, it was Jesus. He wanted to be with His Father always, but He said “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” His death made it possible for us to be alive – not just now, but eternally. Jesus too had lost His earthly father. My Savior knows my pain and grief. I know that He is ‘acquainted with every circumstance of my life and all my inner thoughts and feelings…’

God knows how to reveal Himself in moments when we need Him most. He revealed this part of Him just at the right time, and I treasured it. He led me to pray for Dad’s salvation, telling me that if it was His will to save him by allowing death, then that would be the best thing for him. He reasoned with me, wouldn’t I want what is best for Dad too? Yes, of course I did. What if Dad stays alive, yet he would lose his salvation? I definitely did not want that. Gently, Jesus asked, don’t I want the same thing that He does? So I told my sweet Jesus, yes, Lord, I want what You want.

And then there was peace. I think I might have said my goodbye to Dad at this time … My prayer then that God would sustain Dad a little more so I could see him.

Sabbath, April 4, 2009

ANEW was such a blessing. This was the mission that God called me to, and I would do anything in my power to get Jesus here as quickly as possible – the true solution to all our problems.

I flew home Monday, April 6, 2009, and arrived in Jakarta on Wednesday, April 8, 2009. I went to the hospital right away and saw Dad. He looked really sad. What actually happened was that the valve in his heart got infected, and because the blood was affected, it spread all over his body. There in front of me was the rotten fruit of the lie Satan told in the Garden of Eden. Look where we have come to…

The next few days we spent as much time with Dad as possible. We read the Bible to him by his bed, sang to him, prayed with and for him, told stories, encouraged him not to lose faith and hope in God. To me it might have the truest picture of ministry. Like taking care of a plant, you do everything you can, but relying 100% on the Holy Spirit to work in the heart.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We talked to the doctor and he basically said there was no hope of him getting healed. It was a shock to my siblings …

Friday, April 10, 2009

During the afternoon his heart rate declined a little. On this day also finally all of Dad and Mom’s relatives from other towns and cities made it to Jakarta and came to the hospital. In the evening around 8 PM I asked the nurse whether we should stay at the hospital that night or not. She said not to go home. Around 8:30 PM she called us into the ICU, because his heart rate kept going down… We stayed by him… There was only surrender. When his heart rate was really close to stopping we started singing When Peace Like A River… After the third verse, my dad passed away…

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrow like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul


My sin—O the joy of this glorious thought

My sin, not in part, but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


It is well, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul


And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll

The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,

“Even so” it is well with my soul.

What is man? Our life is like grass, here today and gone tomorrow. Yet God says He is mindful of us… It has been 50 days since my dad is gone. Last night for the first time, I dreamed of him. What can I say…I miss him terribly.

Mr. Hartono Elia, I can't say goodbye

Mr. Hartono Elia, I can’t say goodbye

I just want to see Jesus

“Soon after this I had another dream. I seemed to be sitting in abject despair, with my face in my hands, reflecting like this: If Jesus were upon earth, I would go to Him, throw myself at His feet, and tell Him all my sufferings. He would not turn away from me, He would have mercy upon me, and I should love and serve Him always. Just then the door opened, and a person of beautiful form and countenance entered. He looked upon me pityingly and said: “Do you wish to see Jesus? He is here and you can see Him if you desire to do so. Take everything you possess and follow me.”

“I heard this with unspeakable joy, and gladly gathered up all my little possessions, every treasured trinket, and followed my guide. He led me to a steep and apparently frail stairway. As I commenced to ascend the steps, he cautioned me to keep my eyes fixed upward, lest I should grow dizzy and fall. Many others who were climbing up the steep ascent fell before gaining the top.

“Finally we reached the last step and stood before the door. Here my guide directed me to leave all the things that I had brought with me. I cheerfully laid them down; he then opened the door and bade me enter. In a moment I stood before Jesus. There was no mistaking that beautiful countenance. Such a radiant expression of benevolence and majesty could belong to no other. As His gaze rested upon me, I knew at once that He was acquainted with every circumstance of my life and all my inner thoughts and feelings.

“I tried to shield myself from His gaze, feeling unable to endure His searching eyes, but He drew near with a smile, and, laying His hand upon my head, said: “Fear not.” The sound of His sweet voice thrilled my heart with a happiness it had never before experienced. I was too joyful to utter a word, but, overcome with ineffable happiness, sank prostrate at His feet. While I was lying helpless there, scenes of beauty and glory passed before me, and I seemed to have reached the safety and peace of heaven. At length my strength returned, and I arose. The loving eyes of Jesus were still upon me, and His smile filled my soul with gladness. His presence filled me with holy reverence and an inexpressible love.

“My guide now opened the door, and we both passed out. He bade me take up again all the things I had left without. This done, he handed me a green cord coiled up closely. This he directed me to place next my heart, and when I wished to see Jesus, take from my bosom and stretch it to the utmost. He cautioned me not to let it remain coiled for any length of time, lest it should become knotted and difficult to straighten. I placed the cord near my heart and joyfully descended the narrow stairs, praising the Lord and joyfully telling all whom I met where they could find Jesus. This dream gave me hope. The green cord represented faith to my mind, and the beauty and simplicity of trusting in God began to dawn upon my benighted soul.”

Ellen White, Early Writings, p.80-81.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jer 29:13

As I finished off my first semester in grad school, got assigned to an advisor and lab group, I have now officially entered this great realm of academia called research. Though humble grad students have humble quotidian routines, I still think the idea is quite grand. The search of knowledge, the deepening of understanding, still holds its aerial fancies in the mind of a beginner, and I hope they’ll never go away.

It was a solemn thought to realize that I have started something that basically wouldn’t finish until 4.5 years from now. The more I think of it, the more I vow to myself, these years better count! They have to matter. My work better makes a difference.

An engineer by training, I have always struggled with the question: what does it mean to be a godly engineer? It’s been in the back of my head since undergraduate years. What difference does the fact that I’m an Adventist make in my profession? Of course in science there’s the obvious controversy between creation and evolution, and a Christian of course believes and fights for the existence of an Intelligent Design: God. But is that it? Is that the only thing going on? As an undergrad, I felt that even the creation vs. evolution controversy did not really matter in engineering. After all, whether you believe in God or not, people seem to agree that 1+1=2 or that mass and energy are conserved or that specific differential equations only have certain solutions.

Some purport that the field of science and engineering are more systematic and classified, thus its devotees would find it easier to compartmentalize between their private, spiritual life and their professional or scientific pursuit[1]. Whereas in the humanities, some who would claim that they are intellectuals cannot separate their academic life from the private life, say for example, in approaching the Bible. Yet for a follower of God, there is no excuse to leave God when you go to class/work. It does not matter whether your field is ‘codified’ or not. There has to be a difference between a God-led scientist and a non-God-led scientist. Now what would that difference be?

One particular afternoon, listening to Francis Arnold presenting her work in directed evolution, applied to biological systems, a question popped in my mind. What would it be like if God was the one directing this research? What difference would it make if before anyone did anything in the lab/office,  he/she would ask God first? What would it be like to conduct a research with God as your Advisor?

It must make a difference. Just imagine what kind of cutting edge results you would get; results that come from direct instructions from the Maker of the universe, the One who created science. Instead of conducting a randomized process of finding one molecule or one protein that would accurately target tumor cells, maybe God would actually reveal to you which one it is from your myriad samples. Perhaps research would finally deliver the answer instead of mere outstretched promises to cure cancer. How efficient would it be too, time wise? Perhaps by now we would already have found many solutions to our problems. Perhaps we wouldn’t end up with this massive energy crisis and environmental issues if godly engineers earlier in the century would account that we are stewards of the earth. If all these had been done, those researchers and engineers would have been way ahead of their time.

By the way, to digress a little, I believe that these cutting edge researches should be done in our institutions. Adventist universities and colleges should be the host of God-led researches and leading the world to true education and search of knowledge. If the world will not fund God’s research (doh!), then we do it ourselves. God will fund it.

It must make a difference. Of course it will. How can a God-led research be the same as every other research?

So I want to commit my project right to the hands of my Maker, because I really do want to know what it’s like to be taught and led by God, yes, even in the field of optimization. The best place to learn science, is at the feet of Jesus.

[1] Wuthnow, R. Can Faith Be More Than a Side Show in the Contemporary Academy?. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, Department of Sociology (2007).

Found in Social Science Research Council (SSRC) website:

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