Christian Village Shines Light in Muslim Indonesia

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BALI, Indonesia - Indonesia's tropical paradise of Bali was once plagued by the stigma brought on by terrorist bombings in 2002 and 2005, but over the past year, tourism has nearly tripled in the region.

Bali's sandy beaches have encouraged more people to visit, but a unique village called Blimbing Sari is also drawing tourists.

Despite being in a majority Muslim nation, the villagers of Blimbing Sari boast a 100 percent Christian popilation since 1939, when their persecuted ancestors were given the land as a safe haven by the Dutch government.

"The idea was by taking all of these people, there would be no more Christian movement in the villages," explained Rev. Ketut Suyaga Ayub, head pastor of the Protestant Christian Church in Bali. "But the Christians who came here-- there were 39 families in the beginning-- they found themselves in a new exodus to the new promised land."

Villagers are taught the value of hard work and rest. Every family gets two hectares of land from the government where they farm and raise cows. Even children in the orphanage are taught the value of work.

"These new Christians have a very strong spirit for their life. They understand this is a promising land, because of their prayer. many times, this village was elected as the best village economically, spiritually, the latest one we were elected as a place free from drugs and gambling," Pastor Ayub said.

Ayub believes that another reason the villagers' faith remains strong is because they still worship in the style of their forefathers.

And because the love of God is felt in the community, new settlers who are non-believers are attracted to the Christian faith.

One of them is Giman, a former Muslim.

"I was ill and a villager helped me get a surgery," he explained. "I lived among Christian people. They are nice to me and help me a lot. I learned Christianity. I believe in Jesus Christ as my own saviour.

Ni Ketut Sudarmiasih was a former Hindu who studied at the Christian orphanage.

"When I was a Hindu, I [was] not sure about salvation, if I [would be] saved when I die. But when I believe in Jesus Christ I know I will be with Jesus in heaven," he said.

Perhaps most amazing of all -- the Christian village boasts a zero percent crime rate.

Government and private organizations have flocked to Blimbing Sari to learn from the example there.  But most have yet to tap into the key to the village's success -- a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Lucille Talusan

Lucille Talusan

CBN News Asia Correspondent

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