Call to Prayer amid Escalating Persecution in Indonesia
In light of shocking news from Indonesia, Christian Aid’s contacts there have called for 21 days of fasting and prayer September 7 – 21.
On Thursday, the international Christian community was stunned when three Christian women were found guilty by a court on West Java of “deceitful conduct, a series of lies and enticements to seduce children to change their religion against their wills.” Dr. Rebecca Laonita, Mrs. Ratna Mala Bangun and Mrs. Ely Pangesti were duly convicted and have begun a three-year term of imprisonment.
They had been targeted by Indonesia’s Islamic Council for holding a Sunday school program attended by Christian and Muslim children, all of whom had their parents’ permission to participate. Parents even attended some activities, which included games and visits to the zoo, with their children.
The women were accused of wrongdoing using the following excerpt from the hadith, Mohammed’s recorded sayings: “Every child is born in the state of purity [Islamic religion].” To cause a child to stray from the way of “purity” (Islam) is therefore considered a grave offense. Accusers alleged that, because the Sunday school program was an enjoyable time for children, the women were enticing them away from Islam.
According to Christian Aid’s contact, the first Muslim child to attend was the daughter and granddaughter of prostitutes who “did not want the child to go down the same path” and specifically requested the women accept her to the program. This girl apparently enjoyed Sunday school and recruited several of her Muslim friends to attend.
Despite such evidence that children were not enticed or deceived to attend, the Christian women were accused and put on trial for several weeks in a courtroom continuously dogged by Muslim radicals. Muslims, many carrying weapons, swarmed the court, yelled Islamic slogans and threatened witnesses, lawyers and even judges. On the day the verdict was read, extremists apparently arrived at court with a coffin in which they claimed they would bury the accused if they were not found guilty.
According to Christian Aid’s contact in Indonesia, this kind of intimidation is only one example of widespread persecution increasing across the country. He says, “Over 150 churches have been destroyed or closed down in Jakarta and throughout the island of Java over the last several years. In the last two months there have been 60 churches closed down, mainly in West Java.”
The dramatic case of the three Sunday school teachers on West Java highlights the troubling case of Christians in Indonesia. Their verdict will probably be appealed. Pray that true justice may be served.
Pray also for the entire Christian community in Indonesia. Christian Aid’s contact writes, “The churches in Indonesia do not stand alone. We are part of the international body of Christ, and we need your support at this time. Please join with use in a time of prayer September 7 – 21.”
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| Christian Aid Mission |