Talaa, Jahja Benyamin (1975–2003)

By Michael Palar

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Michael Palar

First Published: October 6, 2022

Jahja Benyamin Talaa was a pastor and church administrator in Indonesia.

Early Life, Education, and Marriage

Jahja Benyamin Talaa was born on August 15, 1975, in Talaga, Gorontalo, Indonesia. Gorontalo is a province where in the history was known as one of the centers for Moslem expansion in the eastern part of Indonesia.1 Talaa grew up in a strong Mohemadan family, and his father was named Haji Umar Talaa. His father “was one of the most respected men in town, was a high priest of the mosque.”2

Talaa went to elementary school, junior and senior high school in Gorontolo. As the oldest son, he was expected to continue his father’s business and leadership in the community so, in addition to the formal education, Talaa was also trained with various languages such as Arabic, Japanese, Holland, and English. He was also instructed in martial art skills.3 Upon joining the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Talaa went to study at Indonesia Union Seminary, Gadobangkong, West Java, from January 1950 to June 1951.4 Later Talaa continue and finish his college studies from August 1959 to July 1962 at Indonesia Union College, Bandung-Cisarua.5

Talaa married on February 7, 1937, to Caroline Elisabeth Manuhuruapon.6 She was the daughter of the owner of the coconut plantation where Talaa worked.7 Caroline died on July 10, 1984.8 Later, Talaa remarried Maria Magdalena Maramis on June 16, 1985.

Ministry

Talaa grew up in a very strong Moslem family. However, when he was young, he received a tract about the condition of the dead. Without knowing who the publisher was, he read it all and became aware of a new concept of death. Later he met a colporteur who sold him a copy of the book From Eden to Eden. Reading this book excited him. He wanted to let his father know about it, but then, discovering that the content of this book was Christian, his father was furious and beat him.

After the beating experience, as he was 17 years old, he left his house and went to Motoling town.9 He worked on a coconut plantation there. In Motoling, his fellow young people recognized his leadership, and his courage and martial art skills made his friends depend on him. One night they found out that there was a tent where an evangelistic meeting was being held, the speaker was Pastor Christian L. Sondakh, and they decided to throw stones to disturb the meeting.10 Each of his friends threw their stones, but none of the stones hit nor made the pastor stop preaching. Finally, Talaa took his turn, and he aimed to hit the gasoline lantern with a stone as big as a softball. Skillfully, he threw the stone. As the stone flew accurately to the light, then he saw an angel’s hand catch the stone, and slowly lowered the rock to the ground.11 The whole gang ran away, and Talaa himself stood still and could not move. There that night he heard the preacher was discussing in detail about condition of the dead, just like the tract he had read. Confused and scared, he went home after the meeting was over and prayed for forgiveness of God. The following 30 nights of the evangelistic meeting, Talaa and his 20 companions returned to the tent, this time to protect and to listen to the meetings.12 Later in 1944, Talaa moved to Kotamobagu. There he took another bible study and was baptized by Pastor Hermanus Patyranie.

The ministry of Jahja Benyamin Talaa started in January 1947 as a literature evangelist in North Celebes Mission.13 After a study leave on January 1950 to June 1951,14 Talaa came back to serve as a licensed minister or young pastor in North Celebes Mission, where he served from August 1952 to December 1958. In 1954, he was assigned to be YPMV secretary or Youth director of the North Celebes Mission.15 While pastoring, Talaa was also a teacher at Celebes Training School (Sekolah Lanjutan Advent, Kawangkoan, Manado) in 1957 and 1958.16

In 1962, Talaa was called to serve in West Java Mission as a pastor, a licensed minister.17 Then in 1965, he received a ministerial ordination.18 East Java Mission then called Talaa to serve as a pastor in Solo City during 1967. Then in 1969, he became the Lay Activity and Sabbath School secretary of the East Java Mission.19 In 1972, Talaa received the appointment to becomethe president of East Java Mission.20 Then, at the end of his presidential term, Talaa retired, January 1, 1975.21

Later Life

During retirement days, Talaa, continued to support the work of the Adventist Church. He was still listed as an ordained minister at East Java Mission,22 meaning that his ministerial experience continued to be useful to serve the Church. From Surabaya, he moved to live in Balikpapan to stay close to his children for some years. After the death of Caroline in 1984,23 Talaa married Maria in 1985. Later Talaa went back to Surabaya and lived there until he died on March 11, 2003.24

Sources

“1965 Overseas Ordinations.” Ministry, April 1966.

Document of Southern Asia-Pacific Division, “Retirement Beneficiary Change of Status Form”, of Pastor J B Talaa, signed by B. H. Panjaitan, WIUM Retirement secretary, on March 11, 2003; SSD Retirement Beneficiary Update Document of J. B. Talaa.

Eldridge, Paul H. “The Angel’s Hand.” The Youth’s Instructor, March 16, 1965.

Far Eastern Division Retirement Beneficiary Change of Status Form, date September 16, 1986.

Far Eastern Division, Sustentation Fund Application of J. B. Talaa, January 1, 1975.

Far Eastern Division Sustentation Fund Application signed by J. B. Talaa on August 13, 1975.

Letter from J. B. Talaa to the Far Eastern Division, Sustentation Committee, on August 13, 1975.

Letter from J. K. Senduk (president of East Java Mission) and J. E. Sasela (secretary-treasurer of East Java Mission) to the Sustentation Committee of Far Eastern Division on August 13, 1975.

“Ordinations 1965 – Far Eastern Division.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 4, 1966.

“Provinsi Gorontalo”, the official website of the Gorontalo Government, https://www.gorontaloprov.go.id/profil/kabupaten-kota/kota-gorontalo, cited on September 17, 2019. Accessed July 19, 2022.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. “Provinsi Gorontalo”, the official website of the Gorontalo government, https://www.gorontaloprov.go.id/profil/kabupaten-kota/kota-gorontalo, cited on September 17, 2019. Accessed July 19, 2022.

  2. Paul H. Eldridge, “The Angel’s Hand,” The Youth’s Instructor, March 16, 1965, 3.

  3. Johny Talaa, a telephone interview by author, September 17, 2019.

  4. A letter from J. K. Senduk (president of East Java Mission) and J. E. Sasela (secretary-treasurer of East Java Mission) to the Sustentation Committee of Far Eastern Division on August 13, 1975.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Far Eastern Division, Sustentation Fund Application of J. B. Talaa, January 1, 1975.

  7. Johny Talaa, a telephone interview by author, September 17, 2019.

  8. Far Eastern Division Retirement Beneficiary Change of Status Form, date September 16, 1986.

  9. Eldridge, 3.

  10. Personal testimony of Jahja Benyamin Talaa to the writer in 1988, when the writer was working as a young pastor in Balikpapan and Talaa was spending his retirement in the area. Also, the writer had previously and repeatedly heard this story told by his grandfather, who is Pastor Christian L. Sondakh himself.

  11. Eldridge, 4.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Far Eastern Division Sustentation Fund Application signed by J. B. Talaa on August 13, 1975.

  14. Letter from J. K. Senduk (president of East Java Mission) and J. E. Sasela (secretary-treasurer of East Java Mission) to the Sustentation Committee of Far Eastern Division on August 13, 1975.

  15. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1954, 110.

  16. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1957, 92.

  17. Sustentation Fund Application, January 1, 1975.

  18. “1965 Overseas Ordinations”, Ministry, April 1966, 41. See also “Ordinations 1965 – Far Eastern Division,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, April 4, 1966, 2.

  19. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1969, 151.

  20. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1972, 177.

  21. Letter from J. B. Talaa to the Far Eastern Division, Sustentation Committee, on August 13, 1975.

  22. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1976, 193. “East Java Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1976), 193.

  23. Far Eastern Division Retirement Beneficiary Change of Status Form, date September 16, 1986.

  24. Document of Southern Asia-Pacific Division, “Retirement Beneficiary Change of Status Form” for Pastor J. B. Talaa, signed by B. H. Panjaitan, WIUM Retirement secretary, on March 11, 2003; SSD Retirement Beneficiary Update Document of J. B. Talaa.

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Palar, Michael. "Talaa, Jahja Benyamin (1975–2003)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 06, 2022. Accessed February 29, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DFXI.

Palar, Michael. "Talaa, Jahja Benyamin (1975–2003)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 06, 2022. Date of access February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DFXI.

Palar, Michael (2022, October 06). Talaa, Jahja Benyamin (1975–2003). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 29, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DFXI.