Seminary Student Helps Launch Indonesian Ministry

   Campus News | Posted on June 24, 2024

Xander Assa, Master of Divinity student at Andrews University, will be co-hosting the first ever Adventist Indonesian Youth Ministries Convention, also known as AIYMCON, in Loveland, Colorado, from July 10–14. Assa created the convention in collaboration with peers across the country in an effort to support and give back to the growing Adventist Indonesian community in the United States.

Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Assa came to the United States when he was just two years old. He grew up in New Jersey and later Colorado, noting the sizable Adventist Indonesian populations in both states. “My whole life I’ve grown up in Indonesian churches,” he says. “I feel like I have a burden for the Indo community.”

Assa’s journey with ministry began in high school at Campion Academy when he was asked to share a testimony for the school’s week of prayer. He witnessed several people come forward requesting baptism after he shared his story. Assa went on to study nursing at Union Adventist University (then known as Union College), but after his freshman year he switched his major to theology, completing his bachelor’s degree at Southern Adventist University. He credits his time at Southern for helping become involved in youth ministries. “I started working at one of the local Korean churches, and they hired me full time,” he says, sharing that he worked there for three years before coming to Andrews.

The concept for AIYMCON was born in early 2023. Assa came up with the idea of a faith-based convention for Adventist Indonesian American youth and pitched it to his friend Praise Tinungki, current president of Advent-Indo Youth Ministries, or AIYM, in Southern California. The name AIYMCON—a combination of AIYM and conference—was created by Steve Suinda, an Andrews University graduate who serves as an elder at his local Michigan Indonesian church. Together, Assa, Tinungki and Suinda created the vision for AIYMCON, built its leadership team, and began the planning process. The trio continue to serve as the lead executives for the project.

“We’ve seen a lot of our friends leave the church, and some just leave faith altogether,” shares Assa. “We wanted to do a program to give back to them and try to help them to come back, but also to minister to the next generation growing up.” The team aims to provide a space where youth can see opportunities and success among Indonesian adults who have stayed in the church. “First and foremost, I just want them to have an experience with Jesus,” Assa says.

Assa and Tinungki created a team to lead AIYMCON consisting of individuals from across the country—notably Washington, Southern California, Michigan, New Hampshire and New Jersey—where they knew of large Adventist Indonesian communities and had peers they could connect with. They wanted to represent the various ages and walks of life of the AIYMCON attendees. As a result, the team has members ranging in age from high school to mid-thirties and includes church members, youth leaders, elders and pastors.

However, such broad representation presents its challenges. “Communication has been hard because everyone’s in different time zones, and everyone lives different lives,” admits Assa. To overcome this, they’ve grouped people in the same time zone together to work on planning different aspects of the convention. Digital communication has also been immensely helpful, allowing for long distance communication and text records of the planning process. “I just want to give the leadership team a shoutout,” Assa says, “They’re a big reason why AIYMCON is happening. Their hard work towards this vision is what keeps me going. Without them, there is no AIYMCON.”

AIYMCON will take place at Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado from July 10–14. The theme is “Unity in Diversity,” encompassing the assembly of youth from across the United States and Indonesia. The team has planned several events, including vespers and worship services, a career expo with presentations from young Indonesian professionals and seminars on issues that young people deal with, such as mental health and intergenerational trauma. For more information about the convention, please visit the AIYMCON website.

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