The church in Indonesia has been wracked with adversity, including deadly suicide bombings and earthquakes that have left Christians reeling. While the government tightens the country’s blasphemy laws, most problems for believers and churches come from confrontations with radical Islamic groups that continue to exert significant influence. In certain hot spots like West Java or Aceh, churches that evangelize often become targets of these groups.How Christians are suffering
Many converts from Islam experience varying degrees of persecution from their families, usually in the form of isolation or verbal abuse. Children of Christians often face verbal abuse—they are called infidels and are sometimes made to sit at the back in class.
Only a small percentage of converts endure physical violence for their Christian faith. However, in 2018, 18 Christians were killed and many more wounded in a co-ordinated suicide bomb attack on three churches in the city of Surabaya.Examples
There have been several reports from different parts of the country where converts to Christianity have been detained by their families and had their cell phones taken from them. Many of these believers are isolated for several weeks and face being expelled from the family home once it is clear that the conversion is serious.
Children of known Christians often face ostracization and discrimination at school. In some regions, Muslim families regularly forbid their children to play with Christian friends.
In December 2018, at least 11 crosses at the Giriloyo public cemetery in Magelang/Central Java weredesecratedby unknown perpetrators. This came shortly after another incident, in which villagers close to the city of Yogyakartademandedthe removal of a cross from a Catholic grave.Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).
Pray for Indonesia
Pray for Christian children who attend public schools in regions with strong Islamic ties. These children often experience discrimination in their grades which prohibits them from attaining jobs for the government in the future. Pray for encouragement, comfort and a sense of hope for the students, as well as for them to remain strong in their faith.
Pray for Christian converts from Islam who are heavily pressured to renounce their faith. Pray they would have access to Bibles and community. Pray for Christian congregations who cannot secure church buildings.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. Pray the many Indonesian Muslims would come to know Christ. Pray that Christians would be courageous in sharing the gospel with Muslims.
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