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Indonesia

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Barnabas supports this church-planting couple in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Christians, whose history dates back to the 16th century, comprise 12-20% of the population in a country that is home to more Muslims than any other in the world. Believers are coming under increasing pressure from Islamists. Local authorities often allow militant Islamist groups to commit anti-Christian violence with impunity, sometimes even collaborating with them, and they also bow to Islamist pressure by refusing building permits for churches.

Pastor Bernhard Maukar was leading a service at his church in West Java in 2013 when it was invaded by a gang of 50 Muslim extremists, who vandalised the building and assaulted him. Instead of arresting the attackers, the authorities jailed Pastor Bernhard for three months for holding services without a permit. The church’s attempts to obtain a permit had been blocked by local officials.

For many decades Indonesia, a country founded on the doctrine of Pancasila, which includes a commitment to national unity, was a model of equality and harmonious relations between different religious groups. But in the last years of the 20th century a massive campaign of violence against Christians was launched by Islamists intent on bringing the whole country under sharia law. According to some estimates, Central Sulawesi and the Maluku Islands saw 30,000 Christians killed and half a million driven out during these years. The appalling bloodshed of this time has not recurred on the same scale, but Islamists still wield considerable power and influence.

In Aceh province, local authorities implement sharia law, making life particularly difficult for Christians. Five Christians in Aceh were arrested in September 2013 accused of influencing 70 Muslims to become Christians.

Many other local governments in Muslim-majority areas also attempt to implement sharia-inspired regulations, some of which discriminate against Christians. The authorities have encouraged Muslims to migrate into Christian-majority areas; once they outnumber the Christians, they can press for the imposition of sharia.

The central government also fails to protect Christians. Although the Supreme Court ordered that two sealed-off church buildings in West Java be reopened, the national government has failed to enforce these decisions. Various laws impede the public expression of Christian faith, evangelism and the construction of churches. 

Christian schools also came under pressure in 2013. Influential Muslim scholars issued a fatwa against Christian schools in Central Java. Then, in August, two petrol bombs were thrown into the compound of a Christian school in Jakarta. Christian students can face harassment at other schools; in September, a nine-year-old Christian boy was too frightened to go back to school after a teacher pressurised him to convert to Islam.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 21 hours ago

    • Loving Father, we cry out to You for the loved ones of ten Egyptian Christians who were murdered in Libya in February and March this year. We ask that You will bring your healing and peace to their families and friends and comfort their congregations in their loss. We pray for protection for Egyptian and other expatriate Christians in Libya and ask that their neighbours will not yield to requests by the militants to hand them over and get a reward in return. We pray that further Islamist attacks against Christians will be prevented and that the Libyan authorities will establish a greater measure of control over the country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Pray for Egyptian Christians who are leaving Libya in the face of growing violence against them. Many have gone there seeking work, but following the recent spate of killings, they are now fleeing. An Egyptian church leader has said that attacks and threats against Christians in the region are an attempt at “genocide”. Pray that what seems to be a targeted Islamist campaign to wipe Christians out of Libya will not succeed. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Aug 2014 00:00

    • A young Christian woman in Somalia was killed by a group of armed men who broke into her house in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, earlier this year. The assailants dragged her outside and shot at neighbours who tried to rescue her. Her parents were present when the attack took place. The Islamist group al-Shabaab has killed dozens of Christians since 2008, when it seized control of large parts of the country, and although it has now been driven from its strongholds, its deadly hostility to Christians is unrelenting. Pray for other Christian converts in Somalia as they face terror on every side (Psalm 31:13). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Aug 2014 00:00

    • “We know these two people are Christians who recently came back from Kenya. We want to wipe out any underground Christian living inside of mujahidin area.” The words of an al-Shabaab militant in Somalia were chillingly fulfilled soon afterwards when Sadia Ali Omar (41) and Osman Mohamoud Moge (35), two Christian converts from Islam, were publicly beheaded in Barawa on 4 March. Al-Shabaab became suspicious of them because of their irregular attendance at the mosque for Friday prayers. Pray for Sadia’s two daughters, aged 8 and 15, who were forced to watch the gruesome spectacle; the younger girl cried out for someone to save her mother. A family friend has helped them relocate to a different area; ask that God’s peace may guard their hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7) after this traumatic experience. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Aug 2014 00:00

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