for Persecution in Indonesia
Assist News Service
-- SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) -- In the heart of Indonesia, the worlds most populous
Muslim country, and a few miles from a training camp of the Muslim extremist fighting
force, Laskar Jihad, Open Doors recently held its third Preparing for Persecution
seminar of 2003 in Madiun, East Java. More than 150 pastors attended the gathering,
which was advertised by word-of-mouth only with less than two weeks notice.
seminar has been very beneficial for equipping us pastors to face suffering. In
Indonesia we feel that more and more pressure will come in the future, said Pastor
Nathan Sandjaja. Thirty percent of his 1,500-member church in Madiun is composed
of Christians from a Muslim background. Before the seminar, we were a bit afraid,
but afterwards we are more bold, and more prepared to see God work no matter what
Entitled Standing Strong Through the Storm, the seminar is
a ministry of Open Doors specifically designed to prepare churches for persecution.
Taught by Open Doors co-workers, it shares the lessons of the Persecuted Church
worldwide, giving a solid biblical perspective on persecution, practical advice
on how to avoid unnecessary persecution and instruction on how to fight persecution
when it happens. The material also contains inspirational examples of how many
churches grow even in the midst of severe persecution. Nine more seminars are
planned throughout Indonesia in 2003.
Jerry Kitchel, Director of Development
& Communications at Open Doors USA, states: "Nearly 50 years experience in ministry
with the Persecuted Church has given Open Doors a unique perspective on what it
means for Christians to face and live under religious persecution. Our Standing
Strong Through the Storm seminars share the experiences of others who have undergone
similar conditions, and have survived. The Bible has much to say about suffering.
Biblical principles combined with real-life stories of contemporary believers
bring a great deal of encouragement to Christians facing persecution for the first
One of the attendees at the Madiun seminar, Pastor You Yong, was
kidnapped in December 2001 by Muslim extremists from Laskar Jihad. He started
a church in Magetan, outside Madiun, in 1996, and it grew to 100 members in 2001.
The members were mainly from a Muslim background, and soon some extremists complained
to the government that he was causing religious disharmony. When the government
failed to act, the Laskar Jihad army was called in, and they came to burn down
They surrounded the church one Sunday. I was alone praying
in it, recalled Pastor You. They said they wanted to dialogue. So I was taken
away with a hood over my head. I met the leaders, and they beat me and put a knife
to my throat. They tried to provoke me so I would fight, but I got a great peace
from the Lord.
Pastor You was released but told he must not hold any more
services. At that point the government stepped in and said they would relocate
the congregation, but that has yet to happen.
The seminar has helped us
pastors to see further into the future, for the long term may be very rough indeed,
Rev. You added. But we see that persecution is not something we should dread.
We are stimulated to pray more and see God work even in the midst of trouble.
Christians in Indonesia form about 12 percent of the 220 million population,
which is 85 percent Muslim. But some Christians claim the church is growing rapidly
and is actually 23 percent of the population a figure that unfortunately has
been used by Muslim extremists to claim that the Christians are growing too fast
and must be resisted with force.
These exaggerated figures just bring
us more problems. Its better to get persecuted for what is really happening,
than for what is just wishful thinking, said a pastor in Madiun.
Muslim-Christian relations have improved recently. Two extremist groups -- Laskar
Jihad and Jemaah Islamiyah -- both disbanded shortly after the Bali bombing on
October 12, 2002. Laskar Jihad had maintained a fighting force in Ambon, in the
Maluku Islands, since April 2000, and over 10,000 Christians and Muslims were
killed in the civil war there. But the Muslim fighters left last October, although
many think their disbandment is only a ruse to stop the government from officially
closing them down.
And although some regions like Aceh and Tasikmalayah
have locally imposed Islamic (sharia) law to the dismay of Christians in the area,
a move to extend sharia to the entire country was opposed even by the leaders
of the leading Islamic organizations last July.
The leaders of Indonesias
two largest Muslim organizations, the Nahdatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, invited
Christian leaders in January 2002 to form the National Coalition for Internal
Peace, a forum where Christians and Muslims dialogue to create more understanding
between the two communities.
But problems remain.
The same leaders
of the Islamic organizations privately warned, We will tolerate you Christians
if you ensure you do not try to convert Muslims.
from Assist News Service
More from CBN News
News Service is brought to you in part by Open Doors USA, a ministry that has
served the Suffering Church around the world for nearly 50 years.
200 million Christians worldwide suffer persecution for their faith in Christ,
with another 200 to 400 million facing discrimination for being Christian. Open
Doors, founded in 1955 by Brother Andrew, author of the best-selling book, Gods
Smuggler, seeks to serve and strengthen the Persecuted Church in the worlds
most difficult areas through training, literature distribution, community development
and personal encouragement. To partner with Open Doors call 949-752-6600, go to
its USA web site at www.opendoorsusa.org
or write Open Doors with Brother Andrew, PO Box 27001, Santa Ana, CA 92799.
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