Our Link Missionaries

Andrew and Abi Buchanan

Nestled in the highlands of South Sulawesi in the middle of Indonesia, Toraja was one of the last areas of present day Indonesia to be pacified by the Dutch, little more than a hundred years ago. Even as Christianity was embraced, slowly under the Dutch and then more quickly as it became a part of the modern state of Indonesia, much of the traditional culture has proved resilient. Funerals are particularly important, lasting several days and having hundreds of guests each day. This means that extended family (at least, those who participate) are known and function as wider family. Given the inadequacy of government safety nets, this function is not always just moral support.

This is the context in which Andrew has been teaching biblical studies since 2002 to students looking to become ministers in the Church of Toraja, and more recently to those already in ministry in a Masters of Theology program. Outside of cities and big towns, many congregation members are rice paddy farmers with pigs and water buffalo raised on the side for the next funeral. While they are literate, they much prefer hearing and discussing to reading and writing.

Abi’s passion is leadership in ministry and she continues to encourage younger lay leaders in her church. She has four sisters from whom our son Timothy has twelve cousins. All of them live near where we will be living so he will have an instant tribe of older children to keep him company. For the moment, all of this is happening online, but we look forward to being present and sharing more fully in the local church and community.

Andrew and his parents have been long standing and much loved members of both St Michaels and St Peters over most of Andrew’s life. We at SHAP are the principle supporting church for this family, who have been sent out by CMS( Church Missionary Society) and we have been so grateful to have had this special “covid time” with them while they have been staying with Andrew’s parents – Susan and James Buchanan, and trying to organise all the details required for their return to Toraja.

Rice paddy fields in front of a complex of traditional houses where large ceremonies are held.
Rantepao, one of the two major towns in Toraja.