25 January 2024

He would have been eighty years old today. District Apostle Alfons Tansahtikno did a lot of good in the district of Indonesia and was able to spread the faith, braving difficult conditions.

Alfons Tansahtikno and Waty walked down the aisle on 7 April 1969. ‌Their wedding verse from the Bible became a firm resolution for the couple: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19: 8). That same evening, they moved from Bandung to Tasikmalaya at the request of District Apostle Hendra Tansahsami, the groom’s father.

Alfons Tansahtikno was born on 25 January 1944 in Surabaya in East Java (now Indonesia). His parents were New Apostolic and raised their five children in this faith. At the request of Apostle Gradus Faassen, the whole family moved to Bandung, some 570 kilometres to the west, when Alfons was four years old. Alfons was confirmed there by his father, who was now District Apostle for Indonesia. He was also the one who conferred the ministry of Deacon on his son on 24 October 1965.

Safe in the arms of Jesus

At the time, the political situation in Indonesia was tense. Thousands of communists and alleged communists were killed after an attempted coup. Young people protested against the government. Alfons Tansahtikno, who was a student at the Textile Academy in Bandung, recounted an experience in connection with the protests: “It was a Saturday afternoon and I was getting ready to go to Tasikmalaya, a 120 kilometres from Bandung. I wanted to help my Priest establish a new congregation there.” He and his brother were in a car from the Church when a group of young people stopped them and tried to take the car from them. Alfons fought back and they beat him up. His brother went to get help, while Alfons was locked up.

Alone in a room, Alfons realised that he was none the worse for wear despite the beating. “I felt completely safe and peaceful. It was as if an invisible armour was enveloping me, and I suddenly realised that I was humming a new song that I had only recently learned from my father, ‘Safe in the arms of Jesus!’ I really felt safe in the arms of Jesus, who protected me.”

Alfons Tansahtikno was freed, but the car was gone and his attackers could not be brought to justice. The young Deacon managed to let go of his thoughts of revenge. “I did some introspection and forgave the ringleader for everything he had done to me. I prayed for him, that he might receive help in the beyond and recognise the truth.”

Suddenly in charge

“I would have loved to have become a doctor,” Alfons Tansahtikno later wrote in his autobiography. But God had other plans. A day after his twenty-fifth birthday he was ordained as a Priest, and following his wedding he was made rector of the newly established congregation in Tasikmalaya. He also found a job there as a merchant and a building site supervisor. In 1973, he was sent back to Bandung to work in the offices of the New Apostolic Church Indonesia. On his thirty-third birthday, Alfons Tansahtikno was appointed as a District Elder. Chief Apostle Hans Urwyler appointed him Bishop on 31 May 1982.

District Apostle Hendra Tansahsami, who was his father, died unexpectedly after a brief illness on 25 July 1985. But there was no time to mourn. In a divine service on 31 July, the then District Apostle Richard Fehr entrusted Alfons Tansahtikno with the Apostle ministry on behalf of the Chief Apostle and then appointed him to serve as District Apostle for Indonesia.

Expansion

As the youngest District Apostle in the Church at the time, he set about building on what his father had established. Alfons Tansahtikno doubled the number of congregations during his time in office, introduced congregational registers, and had permanent and solid church buildings erected. A new hymnal was also introduced. He promoted music, national youth conventions, and training for ministers and teachers.

All this happened at a time that was not easy for Christians in Indonesia. In his articles, which he wrote for the Our Family Yearbook at the time, he reported on interreligious conflicts in which many New Apostolic churches were also destroyed. On top of this, natural disasters and poverty made it difficult for the brothers and sisters.

Positioning the Church in society

The District Apostle’s health deteriorated from 2004 onwards. Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber retired Alfons Tansahtikno on 18 January 2009. He was succeeded by District Apostle Urs Hebeisen, who assumed leadership of the newly created District Apostle Area South-East Asia. Alfons Tansahtikno died on 18 September 2016 at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife and four children, one of whom is Apostle Samuel Handojo Tansahtikno.

The funeral service for District Apostle Tansahtikno was conducted by his successor. “He knew his country, his people, and knew exactly how the Church should be positioned in society,” District Apostle Urs Hebeisen said. “He could be very strict, but the Church had someone reliable in charge who could be counted on even in difficult times.”