Restoring order in difficult times

He wanted no monument: New Apostolic Christians in Indonesia paid their last respects to their former District Apostle Alfons Tansahtikno. Following is a look back on the life of a man of God who was as strong as he was independent.

“Difficult circumstances”—these words are often used when people talk about his work. In more concrete terms this means being beaten up by demonstrating students who wanted to take away his car while he made his way to visit members as a young Deacon, for example. This experience, which occurred during a period of political unrest in the middle of the 1960s “left a lifelong mark on me and drove all fear out of my heart.”

Difficult circumstances—these were still prevalent in the 1990s when church buildings were requisitioned or destroyed in interreligious conflicts, or set on fire in arson attacks—such as in the congregation of Tasikmalaya, where Alfons Tansahtikno had served in the 1970s as a Priest and rector.

Providing the District Church with structure

That the “strict Bishop”, as he called himself, should be ordained to succeed his father in July 1985 came as a great surprise to the youngest minister among the Church leaders at the time—and it gave him a good scare too. District Apostle Tan Bian Sing, later known as Hendra Tansahsami, had rebuilt the New Apostolic Church in Indonesia after a large schism starting in 1951, and transferred 120 congregations with some 12,000 members to the care of his son.

Barely a quarter of a century later, the number of congregations had doubled, and there were one and a half times as many members. And above all, District Apostle Tansahtikno gave the District Church structure: he was the first to introduce the idea of keeping a church book in the congregations, build a central church office along with a number of regional offices, and erect solid, enduring church buildings. Added to this was a new hymnal, the promotion of choir and instrumental music, the introduction of national youth days, and training for ministers and teachers.

A fighter with utmost determination

“The right man at the right time in the right place”—that is how Urs Hebeisen characterizes his predecessor in the District Apostle ministry. “He knew his country, and his people, and he knew exactly how the Church needed to be positioned in society.” When Alfons Tansahtikno was convinced about something, he fought for it with utmost determination—even if he was the last man standing. “He was capable of being very strict, but on the other hand, the Church also had a reliable man in charge in difficult times.”

Owing to his poor health, District Apostle Tansahtikno was not able to fully enjoy his retirement, which began in January 2009. He passed away early Sunday morning, 18 September 2016 in the circle of his family at the age of 72. The funeral on Wednesday was based on a Bible text from 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, which concludes with the words: “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Accordingly, the family fulfilled the wish of the deceased, dispensing with a grave and instead committing his ashes to the sea.

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