For Eastern Christians, this is the season of Pentecost -- when we consider the Spirit's gift of foreign languages making the Gospel available to all nations. I've been thinking thus about one of the most amazing people I've met: an Indonesian who was called to become an Orthodox priest and missionary to his land.
Bambang Dwi Byantoro was born to a pious Muslim family in the world's most populous Muslim country. As a boy, his grandfather warned him to have nothing to do with Christians -- especially not to eat their food, which they sprinkled with magic water that would make you become a Christian and go to hell.
As a youth, Bambang excelled in Koranic studies and delighted in winning debates with Christians he encountered. Once, when Bambang was invited to dinner by a teacher, the teacher revealed he was one of those dreaded Christians.
Immediately, Bambang went on the offense, attacking what Muslims consider the chief Christian blasphemy: that we worship three gods (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Bambang knew the first Pillar of Islam: that there's one God who is a monad -- a single individual alone from eternity.
Accordingly, the Koran contains verses against the Trinity and divinity of Christ -- and in opposition to Nicea, states that God neither begets nor is begotten. As usual, Bambang won this debate.
But in later years, the Koran itself would lead this pious Muslim to embrace Christ -- by revealing Christ as being of one essence with the Father and the Spirit.
Believing in the Word as Christ, Bambang turned to the only Christian he knew: his former teacher. But he also burned with desire to share his new faith with his people, so he enrolled in a South Korean seminary.
Once he realized how Western his new faith was, however, Bambang grew discouraged. He was told that treasured disciplines like prostrations and fasting were abominations to Christians. Looking out a seminary window, he saw a dome in the distance.
Thinking it was a mosque, he decided to visit if only for the memory of reverence. Beneath that dome, he found an Orthodox church. After entering the ancient faith, now Father Daniel Byantoro returned to Indonesia as its first Orthodox missionary.
He's since brought over 2,000 fellow Indonesians to worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The most satisfying was when he baptized the grandfather who'd warned him to have nothing to do with Christians, before the latter's death at 104.
I've met some amazing people, but during this Pentecost season few can rival the Rev. Daniel Bambang Dwi Byantoro, who was summoned by the Word and Spirit of God.