On March 2nd of 2020, Indonesia announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. A month later, there was a case in every province of the country. By May 15, almost 16,500 cases had been confirmed by the Indonesian government — the second-highest in Southeast Asia. COVID-19, the biggest international pandemic in over 50 years, has had a major impact on more than just the health and safety of the largest country in Southeast Asia. The economy has suffered greatly, as well. Mangisi Irene M. Pangaribuan, an entrepreneur who owns a large telecommunications company with her husband, has seen and felt these effects personally.
Mangisi participated in the Haggai Leader Experience (HLE) in June 2019 and has dedicated her life to changing the marketplace and bringing Jesus to those who do not have the Gospel, through her company and her career.
“After the HLE, I saw the marketplace with a new perspective,” Mangisi says. “I saw my co-workers, customers, and my employees as souls who were ready to be harvested, and I realized I have tremendous opportunities to share God’s love and introduce Christ to them… many of whom are Muslim.”
Heart burning with the desire to share Jesus’ love with others, Mangisi returned to Indonesia ready to be the catalyst for her country. Since then, she has pushed herself out of her comfort zone to reach the goals God put in her heart to ‘win’ the company’s employees for Christ!
When COVID-19 struck, Mangisi felt the impact personally: “Telco’s work is one that is requested by the government to continue working to support the provision of good telecommunications signals, so that the needs of those working and/or learning from home can be met. Although we still can work, project progress and collection are slowing down, and we are taking some efficiency measures that need to be sustained in order to avoid terminating working opportunities wherever possible.”
“Through COVID-19, God allows us to show His love to people who do not know Him. It is the best opportunity for sharing the Good News. I will be more obedient to Him and just do what I can do without delay.”
Mangisi has also seen how the pandemic has negatively affected the communities around her city of Jakarta. According to Mangisi, just behind her home is a slum where many impoverished people live. “Most of these people were affected by the economic impact of COVID-19; many employees were laid off, and the informal sector could not sell because of the city’s lockdown. Many families are surviving off just $10 USD per week. Others have no income at all and are starving and suffering.
“Now is the time when many people seek God to provide basic needs,” Mangisi states. “We are working with some friends and local officials to distribute staples such as rice, eggs, oil, sugar, and milk.” So far, they have distributed over 120 packages to the elderly, widows, those laid off, and informal workers.
When asked about the long-term effects of the virus on Indonesia, Mangisi referenced the government’s updates and warnings that the worst may be yet to come. The number of deaths could quadruple before the danger is over, and the economy is expected to worsen over the next few months. The country could also be facing a country-wide poverty crisis.
“In my lifetime, I have never witnessed anything of this magnitude. Uncertainty, fear, and worry are also going viral,” she says.
Because the virus forces everyone to seclude themselves, and with the added financial, economic, and health pressures on every family, it is all too easy to give in to the darker feelings and fears. Mangisi herself felt this and cried out to God, her family, and her country. “One day God reminded me that my God today is the God of Abraham, the God of Moses, the God of Noah, the God who always loves, accompanies, and continues to work for the good of those who believe in Him (Romans 8: 28),” she shared.
Now, Mangisi prays instead for many people to encounter God, and she spends her time finding ways to help those around her. Though the future is still in question, God is working in great ways in Indonesia. Through it all, Mangisi is determined to keep her eyes and heart on God and His direction for her, and she believes that He will save many souls despite the panic and fear.
Mangisi says, “Before COVID-19, the issue of religious differences was very sensitive, but now all are united in helping one another. There is a realization that religion cannot save humanity from the dangers of this coronavirus. Our ministry in the marketplace, the surrounding neighborhood, and the Church continues to run, though in slightly different ways.