PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

Following a seminar in Truro about persecuted christians around the world, it was thought it would be good to share the information, and ask you to join us in praying for them.

A new country each month:

This month's focus is on the persecution of Christians in . . . . 

I N D O N E S I A

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population, some 225 million people living on a group of about 3,000 separate islands, strung along 1,700 miles between S.E. Asia and Borneo. Among them are some 35 million Christians whose treatment varies from island to island depending on how radical and extreme are the views of local the Muslim community. There are also other religious groups including Hindu, Buddhist, and Confucian believers, and where they are all mixed together there is much more tolerance. But where an island has a large Muslim majority there has been a sharp rise in the amount of per-secution of non-Muslims, particularly against Christians. This reflects the grow-ing rise of militant Islam in many countries of the world during the last few decades. On the islands of West Java and Aceh, where Islamic groups are strong, they influence society and politics towards full Islamic status, with Aceh having introduced sharia law for all citizens.

In many island communities it is becoming much more difficult to obtain permission to build new churches or church buildings. In the worst places many churches have been forcibly closed, and permits to re-open old churches are very difficult to obtain. Even holding a service in a tent is becoming more difficult.

Physical attacks which for years were very rare are now becoming more com-mon, along with the abuse that converts from Islam face from their own families, often isolating them from their loved ones because of their new faith.

There are also reports of zealous Islamic families moving into areas where there are low numbers in order to boost their influence in the community.
On a more optimistic note, the President of Indonesia, President Jokowi, is reported in the Jarkata Post to have spoken out against the difficulties that believers of minority religions face when needing to set up a new place of wor-ship. Also, for the first time in 50 years, Indonesia has appointed a new Police Chief who is a Christian, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, who has promised to enforce the law fairly.

Another sign is that the government has disbanded the Islamic Defenders Front. This was a hardline Islamist group, begun in 1998 as a vigilante group, in order to enforce the Islamic moral code. They also opposed the growth of Christianity and forced a number of churches to close.

PRAYERS NEEDED...

• Thank God for the signs of the Government and President being willing to protect the religious minorities, including Christians.

• Ask God to bless Listyo, the new Police Chief, and to guide him in ensuring fair treatment for all, and upholding people’s rights under the country’s constitution.

• Thank God for the disbandment of the militant, anti–Christian group the IDF, and pray that former members will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

• Pray for the easement of applications for new churches and buildings, and reopening of closed ones

• Pray for protection for Pastors and worshippers from violence, and discrimina-tion as they go about their ordinary lives.

• Pray for protection of Christian schools from violence and for children from intimidation.

• Praise God for the growth of the Church in Indonesia, and for his help and guidance in the future.