When it is of God he provides
“I can’t remember,” said Sam Soukotta. Famous words that we seem to hear every so often nowadays! His wife Carol even echoed that!
“There has been so many more wonderful and great things that God has done in our lives that we can’t remember a single instance of being really discouraged on the mission field!” he continued.
Sam said that instead of feeling discouraged, God reminds them time and time again that He is a faithful God. Their stories are too many to share, he said, but they relate mostly to His amazing provision, especially in finances.
Sam and Carol have never once doubted God’s calling.
Sam was born and raised in the Moluccas in Eastern Indonesia. From childhood he had asthma and often had severe attacks. Sam’s dad asked his younger brother to take him to a healing meeting, as a visitor had come to preach and heal in the name of Jesus. Sam was healed and immediately wanted to serve the Almighty God. At age 16, he enrolled at an Assemblies of God Bible School in Ambon, and since then has been a travelling evangelist and church planter to many islands of Indonesia (which number over 17,000!).
Carol is from New Zealand. When Carol was 16 and studying in New Zealand, she said to the Lord that she wanted to be a missionary, but not just following her parents Dal and Dorothy Walker, who were serving as missionaries in Bali. One night, Carol picked up a missions magazine to read. She saw the title of an article, “go ye” in big letters. She was so excited, feeling that the Lord was calling her to missions. Reading the article, the verse in John 20:21 became a rhema word, “again Jesus said, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'”
A week later she took the magazine out of her drawer, wanting to read the words again, but failed to find them! She flipped the magazine back and forth, wondering at the mystery of it. Finally, she found the title of the article, but it was in the middle of a long sentence and not big letters standing on their own! She was sure then that the Lord had called her into the mission field.
Carol was a good student and at the end of her schooling, was required to fill in a form which stated what she would like to become at the end of her schooling. She wrote,”missionary” of course, but her teacher would have none of it and tried to dissuade her. Carol was adamant that she would train as a secretary. She later became secretary to her father and led the youth group and Sunday School in Bali.
“The communists are advancing,” the family was told one day and advised by their embassy to leave Indonesia, so they moved to the Philippines. There, Carol formed a gospel singing group, and at the end of each open air ‘concert,’ an evangelist would challenge the audience. They were a great success and many responded to the gospel.
Eventually, her parents felt God’s call to return to Indonesia and in 1968 Carol’s parents founded Tawangmangu Christian College in Central Java. Carol remained in Manila and opened up the World Outreach Literature Centre. Three years later she returned to Indonesia and put together an evangelistic team to minister around Java. The Asaph team had many open air campaigns and did very well, but the evangelist they had, got married and had to leave.
Carol was told that there were trained evangelists in Ambon and she was asked to enquire if anyone would come and join her team. Sam turned up, only to be mistaken for a technician whom Carol had called to fix the sound system! The Lord blessed their ministry and they saw many salvations and healings.
Within three months of their meeting, Sam recalled, “The Lord spoke to me that Carol would be my wife. I wrote it on my diary, I am going to marry CW (Carol Walker).” Sam accidentally left the diary around and Carol found it and was flipping the pages to see who it belonged to. Sam was horrified, but he managed to stop her before she found those words!
Sam decided, as all Indonesians do in their culture, that he must ask permission from Carol’s parents to court their daughter. They went to Tawamangu. Carol’s dad thought Sam was asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage, and he readily agreed! Sam was over the moon, thinking, “Wow, it’s as easy as that, it’s got to be the Lord’s doing!” Sam then showed Carol his diary and what he had written in it. It was only then that they started getting serious in their relationship and they married another three months later in 1972, settling at the Bible School where Sam lectured and Carol was secretary to her dad.
Not everything in the mission field is rosy however, and the most painful moment for the Soukottas was when Carol’s dad died in an accident. It was Carol’s birthday and their 2nd wedding anniversary and her dad, who had completed his one-week fast, came bouncing in, full of life as usual, giving her hugs and ready to celebrate. He had to leave for Solo, he said. On the way downhill, the driver told him that the steering wheel was giving problems and asked if they could change cars, if they happen to meet up with the second car belonging to the Bible school, which was returning from Solo. However, the steering wheel came off soon after, and the car crashed into a tree. Carol’s father broke his neck.
Carol recalled sadly, “That was very hard to take. It was really painful as I was very close to my dad. My dad was the live-wire in the Bible school and it seemed to us that there would be no more life without him. My mum soldiered on for another eight years but Sam had to shoulder very heavy responsibilities at the Tawangmangu Bible school. It was a very difficult time for us.”
But all of them survived the test of faith.
One day, whilst visiting their Bible School graduates in West Kalimantan who were planting churches in the villages, God gave Sam a very clear vision of buildings and a fish farm. He enquired of the Lord what the vision was about and God said to build a school and homes to take in poor children from the villages, educate them and bring them to salvation. He immediately sought out land. Without any down payment or funds to pay for the land, Sam just shook the hand of the landowner and told him that he would buy it and not to sell it to anyone!
Mt. Hope Training Centre in Balai Karangan, West Kalimantan, was birthed.
On his return to Java, Sam thought about borrowing money but didn’t and just allowed God to intervene in the situation. At the airport in Surabaya, Sam bumped into a young businessman whom he knew and he asked Sam if he had any new projects! Sam explained what God had told him he must do. The young businessman asked if he had land. Sam told him that he had recently seen land that he wanted to purchase. The young man asked him how much it cost. After telling him, he said he would pay for the lot! He also gave a large donation to begin the building. From then on, the building of Mt Hope has been by faith and prayer. “When it’s God’s project, He provides,” Sam emphasized.
That is not to say that there are no ups and downs for Mt. Hope even though God had given Sam a very clear vision. One time, Sam was really stressed out, when it took two years to complete the building of the primary school! Finance was not flowing in as it had in the beginning of building Mt. Hope, but through that experience, Sam learnt that this is truly God’s project and it is being built in God’s time. The building at Mt. Hope will be ongoing for years to come.
As for Carol, she clearly recalls God’s provision for her family. “My daughter Marissa said she wanted to learn the piano. I could play it by ear, but I could not read music notes, so how could I be her teacher?”
Sometime later, a man turned up at their home in Tawangmangu. He said he was from Solo, a city one hour away. Carol continued her story,”We didn’t know him. He just walked in and he was talking to us when he noticed the keyboard and asked to play on it. He played it well and I asked if he could come from Solo and teach Marissa once a week and he did. His name was Ronny.”
About a year later, Carol was returning to Tawangmangu via Solo when she noticed the Yamaha sign. She was excited to see the new piano school and since she had to shop for supplies once a week in Solo, Marissa could sign up for lessons. The next time teacher Ronny came by, Carol told him that he need not take the trouble to come up-hill anymore. ”
That was the last we heard from him. Some time later we enquired about Ronny with many people in Solo but no one knew of him. To this day, we are convinced he was an angel. Marissa is now a piano teacher because God provided the teachers!”
Did the couple not have any fears then? They certainly didn’t fear the many spirits that the Indonesian animists believed in because they knew that Jesus had absolute power. Like all parents however, Carol was especially worried about educating their four children Marissa, Ronald, Sheryl and Jeffrey who grew up in Tawangmangu, where over forty years ago, you could not buy books in English.
“We were on furlough in New Zealand when we received a prophecy that told us not to worry about our children’s education. God was going to look after it. And look after it He did! He sent teachers from New Zealand and Australia as our children were home schooled. Some came for six-month periods, others longer. God moved the hand of the Wellington Public library to get rid of children’s books and donate them to the NZ Correspondence School. Every few months books were shipped over. So we received boxes and boxes of books absolutely free of charge!”
The children have since grown up and are now living in New Zealand and Canada.
Sam was very upset when Richard had proposed to Marissa without informing us of his plan. In Indonesia the custom is to always ask the parents for permission to marry. Of course they were in NZ and we were in Indonesia and Richard didn’t know the custom. It took a while for Sam to get over this cultural misunderstanding.
Now, with 50 years of ministry behind them, Sam and Carol continue to run Tawangmangu Bible College. They have sent out approximately four thousand bible students who have gone into full-time ministry throughout the Indonesian islands, and haven’t thought of hanging up their shoes, despite Sam having a stroke 20 months ago.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23)
Sam and Carol Soukotta are the founders and directors of The Mt Hope Foundation which oversees Mt Hope in West Kalimantan and the Tawangmangu Bible College in Java. They have 4 children in NZ and Canada and six grandchildren. Carol was first with WOI in the Philippines heading up the WOI Literature Centre back in 1967-69 before she married, but as a couple they have now been with WOI for over 30 years.