AFTER STRUGGLING with illness for some months, my good friend and WOI colleague, Robert Mambu, passed away suddenly in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia this past May 11 at the age of 72 years. Robert leaves behind his wife Eliana, son Joseph, daughter-in-law Ella and grandson. It was a real privilege for me to be able to attend his funeral and help celebrate his wonderful life with his family and friends.
Robert and his 10 siblings were born in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. During a civil war in the late 1950s, the family had to hide out in forests and mountains to protect themselves from the shooting, bombing and killing happening around them. Once when in the forest, Robert had a bullet whizz past his head. Food was scarce and times were really tough. With schools closed, many young people were forced to join the army including Robert’s oldest brother. With the situation not improving, Robert’s father took him and two other siblings to Bandung, West Java where they could stay with relatives and continue their education. It was in Bandung that Robert surrendered his life to Jesus Christ.
Robbie (as he was fondly called) joined the WOI office based in Bandung in 1968 and the following year Eliana joined the literature team. They married in 1972. Back then a nationwide correspondence course was the main focus of ministry in Indonesia. Robbie always carried Gospel tracts with him, eager to give out them to anyone who would receive them. He was a very gentle and compassionate man, a prayer warrior and one who longed to see people come to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ as he did. When the office relocated to Solo, Robbie and Eliana took on greater responsibility with the producing of the WOI Life in Christ teaching magazine for church leaders throughout the nation and also for a season they helped organise and administrate WOI leadership training seminars in different cities.
Robbie’s integrity and character were highlighted in different tributes that were shared at the funeral. One Indonesian pastor who knew him well said that this godly man reflected the life and character of Jesus better than any pastor! Over the years, his one-on-one witness to nonbelievers has seen scores and scores of people give their lives to Jesus, many of whom were once Muslim. On the day of his funeral I was introduced to Robbie’s last known convert, a former Muslim neighbour, who was helping assist the family with funeral arrangements.
Robbie will be greatly missed. He leaves behind a wonderful legacy that will no doubt help add many more people to the Kingdom of God.