The calling of the servants of God and the founding members
PRII Stockholm was started in 2006 by Pdt. Hendra Wijaya, who at that time was in Helsinki, Finland and was sent to serve in various branches in Germany, such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich. The majority of the early congregations were women (around 6-7 people) from various denominations who longed to have an Indonesian-speaking fellowship. Rev. Hendra visited once a month to teach the word of God with Reformed theology to the congregation in Stockholm. The congregation took turns in facilitating the fellowship in their homes.
In 2007, Rev. Billy Kristanto continued his pastoral ministry to the European congregation when Rev. Hendra Wijaya returned to Singapore. With the encouragement of God's servants to hold meetings more often and because of the limited space in the congregation's homes, in 2011, IREC Stockholm rented a place at the Kista / Akalla church to hold fellowship and gathering of households. Initially the fellowship was held once every month and then the frequency was increased to twice a month. Since 2018, fellowships have been held regularly once a week on Friday nights or Saturday mornings. Besides the weekly fellowship, big moments like Christmas were always an opportunity to invite friends from both Indonesia and outside Indonesia to listen to the gospel.
Current IREC services for students and workers from Indonesia?
“The start of IREC Stockholm and its 13 years of struggle was not easy. The number of congregations is very small, congregations come and go, and some have to return to Indonesia or move to other places. But God moved the hearts of some administrators to obey and dare to take more commitments in service. PRII Stockholm finally decided to take a step of faith and started Sunday worship, Sunday School and Prayer Fellowships.”
We always tremble as we struggle to think about the future of the fellowship, “Can we continue to persevere?”, “Will there be anyone who attends faithfully?”, “What about the great practical and financial needs?”, “Where are we going? God's leadership in this movement?". The challenge comes from within, where the management has not seen the vision and mission of IREC Stockholm in the same way. Challenges also came from the congregation who preferred to gather to chat rather than study God's Word. The struggle over the existence of IREC Stockholm is very real. Some even suggested that PRII Stockholm should be closed. Praise be to God alone who has been pleased to sustain our faith. Some of us were taught to obey and persevere in waiting for God's timing. Those of us who endured were given the opportunity to see how God is winnowing His chosen people in doing this special work.
In 2018, God was pleased to bring a number of people who understand the Reformed movement to work in Stockholm. God also moved the hearts of some administrators to obey and dare to take more commitments in service. PRII Stockholm finally decided to take a step of faith and started Sunday worship, Sunday School and Prayer Fellowships. IREC Stockholm's inaugural service began on the first Sunday of 2019, precisely on January 6, 2019. Currently PRII Stockholm does not have a fixed place of worship and the average attendance is around 15 adults and 5 children. The number of Indonesians who have been fostered at PRII Stockholm has reached more than 150 people.
Sweden has traditionally been a Christian country, but nowadays it has compromised a lot in teaching, admits same-sex marriage, does not rebuke sin and there is sluggish spiritual growth. Trapped in prosperity, Sweden prioritizes secular activities. IREC Stockholm longs to be a place for God's servants to be able to boldly teach Reformed theology and shepherd His elect. We also have a mission to make PRII Stockholm a forum for fellowship and faith-building for students who are temporarily studying as well as people who are living and working. May God equip us to reach the wider Swedish community. The work is still long and full of challenges, but we believe in God who has led and has provided for us to this day. We are confident that He will also continue to support us in preaching the gospel of Christ. Amen.
Servant of God serving IREC Stockholm
REV. BILLY KRISTANTO
Has served in the ministry of ecclesiastical music since Sunday school. After graduating from high school, he continued his music studies majoring in Cembalo in Berlin (UDK) under Mitzi Meyerson. In 1996 he continued his postgraduate study in The Hague at the Royal Conservatory under Ton Koopman. In addition, he also studied fortepiano under Stanley Hoogland. Graduated in 2002 from STTRII with a Master of Christian Studies degree. In 2005 he was ordained as a pastor at the IREC synod. He currently serves as the pastor of the European IREC and IREC Kelapa Gading. In 2009 and 2010 he completed his doctoral studies with the title Dr. phil. Musicology and Dr. theol. from Ruprecht Karls Universität Heidelberg.