Lenny Hartono grew up in a small town, Tulungagung, in East Java, Indonesia. She was raised by a Buddhist father and a church-going mother. She came to the US in 1999 to pursue a marketing degree, and the Lord saved her during her junior year of college. “After saving me,” says Hartono, “the Lord put his desire in my heart to pray and fight for the salvation of the rest of my family. God saved my mom, my big brother, brother-in-law, little brother, and later on, my dad.”
After graduating, Lenny worked for six years in a small business in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and attended a small church in Louisville.
“God used that church to grow me in my faith, in love for his Word, and in love for the lost.”
While working there, a friend who was going through a difficult divorce approached Lenny and asked for her advice and counsel. Lenny tried to help the best she knew how, but Hartono was at a very different stage of life. Though she’d been discipled in a local church and even served overseas, she knew that counseling her friend through her experience alone would not suffice.
Hartono knew she needed a different basis: “I told her, ‘I’m single,’” says Hartono, “but I can be confident because I have the Word of God.’” God’s Word is timeless and unchanging, and it provided exactly what her friend needed to hear. “I was so blown away that God was able to use my counsel,” Hartono said. “It was then I realized that the Word of God really does change people’s hearts regardless of what situation they are in.”
While working in Shelbyville, some of the female staff opened up to her about their life struggles. “Instead of being overwhelmed by their suffering, God began to give me his compassion toward them,” Hartono said. “I’d share truths from God’s Word, but I’d often get stuck in hard cases.”
“The Word of God really does change people’s hearts regardless of what situation they are in.”
Hartono returned to Indonesia in 2010 and then spent two years in China, studying the language and sharing the gospel with Chinese people. She returned to Indonesia in 2013 and worked for her parents who own family businesses with a total of 150 employees.
Hartono was developing a love for counseling others, but she knew that she lacked the kind of formal training she’d need to be the best possible counselor. She began to pray about it, asking the Lord to help her find the training she needed. Through her older brother Jemmy, Hartono was introduced to Southern Seminary, and she began classes in the fall of 2015. Hartono’s time at Southern was transformational.
“I not only learned more about counseling, but I was changed. I had professors who told me that I had to change first before I could be used by God to change others,” she said.
“And now, Southern Seminary has equipped me to counsel others. In the hardest cases, I can be confident because it is the Word of God that changes lives.”
Hartono received her MA in biblical counseling in 2019. After graduation from Southern, Hartono served for a short time as a case manager and counselor at the Southern Indiana campus of Re:Center Ministries, a gospel mission organization that reconciles homeless and hurting people to God, family, and community through the power of Christ and in partnership with the local church.
Hartono provided counseling services and lead support groups and classes for people at risk of homelessness.
“God’s grace enabled me to connect the counselees’ felt needs with their true need for Jesus Christ; I was usually able to share the gospel with each counselee during our first or second session.”
In March 2020, as quarantine restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic began to be put in place, Hartono flew home to Indonesia earlier than she had planned. Coupled with the news of the pandemic, Hartono received unexpected news that her father had been admitted to an intensive-care unit. Eighteen minutes after her plane landed in her home country, Hartono’s father went home to be with the Lord.
“I had not seen Dad in two years,” Hartono said, and “even though I came home much faster to see him, I only saw his dead body. It was hard to process.”
Hartono has wrestled with how God can be faithful in the midst of her father’s death and her sudden transition back to Indonesia: “Things have been so heavy that I’ve asked, ‘Why me, God?’” “God does not owe me an explanation,” Hartono said, “But, in his kindness, he’s given me comfort.”
She pointed to the comfort she’s found in Hebrews 4:15–16: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”
Hartono now finds that she needs the same good news she’s spoken to others in their hard places.
“One thing I know. In each of my sufferings, God’s Word remains unchanging and timeless.” And Hartono is already having opportunities to comfort others with the same comfort that she has received from God (2 Cor. 1:3–4).
“In every conversation I’ve had about my Dad,” Hartono said, “the gospel has been proclaimed.”