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Of Cakes and Garbage Heaps

Written by Robert P. Sellers
April 2, 2019

Of Cakes and Garbage Heaps was written by Dr. Robert P. Sellers, immediate past Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, for the Religica blog. You can find the full blog post and many like it with our ally at
Suprapto and his wife Kartini were Javanese Christians who moved into a neighborhood in Jakarta where all of the other residents were followers of Indonesia’s majority religion. Wanting to become friends with her neighbors, Kartini baked cakes and took them to the families on either side of their tiny house. But their gifts were thrown onto garbage heaps at the edge of the dirt path, accompanied by ugly words of rejection and dismissal. The testimony of this soft-spoken, unassuming man as he stood before fellow Baptists in the small church in the nation’s capital city was hesitant, even shy. Each Sunday morning, as this couple walked out of the neighborhood, carrying their Bibles on the way to worship, men followed them with threatening insults and shouts of disdain. Over time, the taunts and tension faded away, yet friendship seemed illusive. But, as Suprapto and Kartini continued to act neighborly, something remarkable happened. After four years they not only had made friends, but neighbors came to their house often each week to ask for advice about their marriages and seek help with their children. In the words of this Javanese miracle worker, “They join with us to patch our leaky roof during rainy season. They deliver greeting cards whenever we celebrate our sacred holidays. They invite our Christian children into their Muslim homes. They bring us cakes.”

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