In Indonesia there are so many unique and unusual things...chief among them are the nuances of their language. The following illustration is probably my favorite:
When an Indonesian is asked a specific question, they qualify their answer in many ways and terms. For instance, the question,” Are you married?” may not get the yes/no answer a Westerner would reply with. Instead a married person would answer, “Ya” which means yes.
But the chances are an unmarried Indonesian would answer, “Belum.” Ed, one of our team fluent in Indonesian and familiar with culture, pointed this out. “Belum” simply means “not yet.” It is pronounced “be-loom.”
Even the older lifelong bachelor or spinster would not answer this marital status question
with “Tidak” (“No”) but instead they would answer with the eternally hopeful and optimistic, “Belum”.
A whole list of “Belum” questions comes to mind:
Have you ever been to America? “Belum.”
I like a people that have that kind of outlook of life. This “No I haven’t done that/been there/seen that yet” attitude is pretty neat.
I began a list of some of the questions I would like to answer “Belum” to:
Have you been to California to see the giant Sequoia trees? “Belum.”
Have you held a grandchild in your arms? “Belum.”
Have you hiked the entire Appalachian Trail? “Belum.”
Have you returned to Sumatra since your last trip? “Belum.”
I like that word, “Belum.”
It has an air of expectancy to it.
A holding out that it may (and shall) come to pass.
It has to be spoken with a certain faith to it.
It is a good word for the follower of Jesus to carry with him/her. Above all peoples, we should be living with that hopeful believing seed of faith in our heart and mind.
Such as in…
Are you as close to Jesus as you wish to be? “Belum”
Has that loved one you’ve prayed decades for come to the Lord? “Belum”
Is God through with you (at age________?) “Belum”
Have you been to Heaven? “Belum”
Best of all, I like the “Belum” answer for the tough spiritual questions that stared us in the face on this trip. Question such as, “Do you understand why God allowed this massive disaster and loss of life?” “Belum”
I do not understand it…and very likely will not on this side of Heaven’s obscuring curtain. But in spite of my present “Belum,” one day I will see this disaster from the vast infinite eternal vista of God’s will and plan.
Until then I’ll follow the wise words of the great English preacher, Charles Hadden Spurgeon:
“God is too kind to be cruel and too strong to be confused.
So when I can not trace His hand, I simply trust His heart.”
Another important eternal question with that same one word reply:
Have the precious people of Aceh Province turned to Isa Almasih, or as I call him,” Jesus the Messiah?” Once again, the answer is “Belum.” But it is a “Not Yet” with the firm knowledge that the seeds being planted are being faithfully watered and nurtured by the Master. The harvest, as always, is His and not ours.
Belum…It’s a word I like.