Former president of Indonesia mourned by LDS leaders

by | Dec. 31, 2009

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When Hal Jensen first met Abdurrahman Wahid, he told the blind Islamic cleric he couldn't drink the tea that was offered him because he was a Mormon.

Intrigued, Wahid — who would later become the president of Indonesia — began peppering the Salt Lake City businessman with questions about his faith, wanting to know more about what Mormons believe and how the LDS Church's humanitarian service program worked. That simple conversation outside a mosque in Jakarta blossomed into a friendship that lasted for years and grew to include LDS leaders, especially President Boyd K. Packer, of the Quorum of the Twelve. It also built a bridge between the faiths of many Muslims and Mormons and paved the way for greater church presence in Indonesia, especially through humanitarian service.

"Wahid made such a remarkable change in our ability to have a close and friendly relationship as a Christian church with Indonesia," Jensen said Wednesday from his winter home in Deer Valley. "He loved the tenets of the Mormon Church. He was ready and willing to stand up for the church. He never hesitated."

Wahid, 69, died Wednesday during surgery to remove a blood clot from his heart. He had been in poor health due to complications from diabetes and kidney failure.

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