Frontline faith

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Here are the foolproof requirements to being on the frontline of a battle: a kind heart, a willingness to be used and an unwavering faith. Sound unusual? Perhaps. But then again, if there’s one thing we can learn from the Bible, it’s that God often calls the unlikeliest people. In August 2016, he called Yuli Tjokoro. As she describes it, ending up on the frontline was completely an accident—but, as it turned out, it was exactly on purpose.

A graphic designer by trade, Indonesian-born Yuli was applying for a job after taking a 10-year break to raise her children. She asked Pastor Cristian Copaceanu, who’d previously been her church pastor, to be the referee on her resume. He said yes, and she got the job. But God had other plans.

“I didn’t know it at the time but Cristian was actually looking for a personal assistant!” laughs Yuli. “We discussed the opportunity of working for the Australian Union Conference (AUC), and here I am.”

For Yuli, who’d joined the Adventist Church at age 26, the job came with a whole range of blessings and challenges she hadn’t expected.

“It was daunting because I didn’t grow up in the Church,” says Yuli, “so my understanding of church administration was very minimal. Being a personal assistant to a director of personal ministries, Sabbath School and stewardship, I didn’t know where to start! But at the same time, God has blessed me with a wonderful team. I really appreciate a work environment where people pray for us.” [pullquote]

On a daily basis, Yuli’s job can include things such as organising mailouts, corresponding via email, and distributing resources to both internal and external contacts. But there’s
one thing that makes her role a little different from a typical PA job: she is the first point of contact for anyone calling to talk about Faith FM, the Adventist radio network in Australia.

When Yuli was approached to see if she could help with Faith FM, she was a little lost. She had heard of Faith FM but was unable to get reception for it where she lived, so had no idea how she could be of help. But she was willing. And when Pastor Copaceanu mentioned that it would include answering listeners’ phone calls about program requests, presenter details and donations, she was happy.

“I thought, ‘OK, I can do that!’” says Yuli.

But the first few phone calls weren’t any of those simple requests.

“They were very confronting and intimidating—all I could think was, Wow, how do I deal with this?” Yuli reflects. “But when that thought hit, as I was listening to the comments and feedback the listener gave, I immediately just switched to God. I thought, Lord, this is not about me, this is about a disagreement related to who You are. Please help me not to take it personally and to calm down his temper.”

Yuli at work. (Photo: Murray Hunter)

Since then, there have been several calls that Yuli gracefully describes as “unpleasant”.

“Customer service is no fun when you receive these kinds of phone calls!” she smiles. “But each time, I just pause for a prayer.”

Thankfully, the positive phone calls far outweigh the negative, and Yuli has many stories she’s eager to share.

A lady by the name of Kati accidentally stumbled upon a sermon on Faith FM one afternoon. A few days later, she felt impressed to call and ask for more information. But there was a problem—she didn’t remember the number to call, the frequency on her radio or even the name of the station. She called a local Christian radio station, which referred her to a larger Christian radio station in her area.

“I don’t think it’s you,” Kati said to the operator taking her call. “Your music is too secular for a Christian radio station!”

“Oh, I think I know who you might be talking about,” said the operator. “Try Faith FM—I’ll give you their phone number and their frequency.”

When Kati made her third phone call that day, Yuli picked up on the other end. “It’s amazing how I got your number,” said Kati, and told her the story. Now, Yuli is telling Kati’s story— including how she is now a regular listener and loves all the programs.

Another favourite story of Yuli’s is that of a man named Brett. Fixing a caravan one afternoon, he switched on the caravan’s radio and it just happened to be tuned to Faith FM.

When Yuli answered Brett’s call, he told her he was calling to say thank you.

“I loved what I listened to that day,” he said. “If you asked me what it was, I wouldn’t be able to remember! But I love all the programs and the music playing on air. Listening to Faith FM that day was a miracle.”

And it was all Brett needed to make a connection to the Adventist Church. He’s now in an Adventist small group, and tells Yuli he’s happy with the friends that he has made there.

In the AUC Faith FM studio. (Photo: Murray Hunter)

Stories like these warm the heart, but Yuli says they also help to strengthen her own faith.

“Not every day is rosy and bright,” she admits. “Sometimes things happen to make me glum, but I come to work and receive phone calls from listeners who say, ‘this program that [Faith FM] has just broadcast has changed my life.’ That is like a road sign for me—a road sign that directs me to make a U-turn and return to God.”

Yuli and her “second family”—the Faith FM team—meet weekly to pray for all the people who have called in. “Even if someone disagrees or has negative feedback, something—or Someone—prompted them to call us and we need to be praying for them,” she says.

Listeners are family too, according to Yuli, and she sometimes feels impressed to ask if she can pray for them over the phone. “It’s interesting that sometimes I feel like I’m helping our listeners, but really, it’s the other way around,” she smiles. “I cannot thank God enough that the team we have here is so supportive.”

In August 2016, God called a softly-spoken, petite woman with a gentle smile and warm eyes to the frontline. Yuli is living proof that God can use anyone—they need only be willing to do something as seemingly simple as answer a phone call.

“Initially, it was a challenge,” Yuli reflects. “It was a realisation that I am on the frontline and how I speak will reflect back on Faith FM. But then I just remember: I would like to represent Faith FM just like Jesus would if He was here. And so it lessens the stress levels and picking up the phone for any kind of phone call—whether it be enquiries, answering a Bible quiz, free giveaways, negative feedback—it is all part of a journey to help others come to Jesus.”

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