I have just returned home after experiencing the two most amazing weeks of my life. It will take some time to fully comprehend what just happened. In the meantime, I am filled with joy and gratitude toward the people of Indonesia.
On this, my first trip to Southeast Asia, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Would my message of developing young leaders resonate with children and adults? Would I make it without saying something culturally stupid? Would I like the food? Would we have a productive trip that would build strong momentum for our What I Wish I Knew at 18 book and course? All of these thoughts ran through my mind as I departed from Seattle on July 29.
Before I left, I told my co-publisher, Laura Prinsloo of Kesaint Blanc Publishing, that I was there to serve them. That meant I wanted a full schedule of meetings with as many influential leaders as possible. She took me up on my offer…and then some! I was booked from early morning to late evening with speaking engagements throughout the Jakarta and Bali areas—worship services, schools, radio broadcasts, book launchings, conventions (World Harvest and Call2Business), business/parenting seminars, you name it. I would be speaking to young people and adults…and to people of all faiths. We would speak, have Q&A, and sign books and take lots of pictures.
Armed with 12 different Powerpoint presentations, I came prepared for any circumstance…and everything went without a hitch! And, each time, I was greeted so warmly by the people of Indonesia.
I have too many memories to list here, but a few really stand out. One was my first presentation…to a Muslim school in Jakarta. The room was filled with some 100 students and educators. My talk was called “Developing the Great Leaders of Tomorrow.” My reception and message from this audience were overwhelming. (In fact, we received three invitations to speak at other schools that week!) I loved interacting with the students (mostly high schoolers) afterwards for book signings and pictures. But, it was my conversation with an elderly lady that was the most memorable of all.
She told me that Indonesian children are often raised by absentee fathers and implored me to tell the adults in each of my upcoming meetings that the fathers must get more involved in raising their children. It was a very powerful and moving conversation and I promised her I would. And, I did.
I met with four Muslim schools and each time my message was overwhelmingly received. The questions I received from these children were so heartfelt and deep. Questions like:
- Mr. Dennis, I am not strong in academics. Can I still become a great leader?
- Mr. Dennis, can you help me learn to enjoy the process of life?
- Mr. Dennis, can you tell me how to convince my father that I want to live my own dream?
After each talk, the children came up to me and said that I inspired them. But, as far as I’m concerned, they were the ones who did the inspiring! It is an indescribable blessing to be placed in a role where I can share wisdom and hope to young people around the world. I am grateful to God and for the people of Indonesia who gave me the chance.
In less than two weeks, we made amazing connections with leaders of influence in each of our target audiences. We are off to a great start and discussions are already underway regarding my next visit (and maybe even a TV show!). It’s truly difficult to capture in words how our work is being received and the Divine appointments we received each day.
So, Indonesia, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warmth and affection. I’m looking forward to seeing you again soon!