Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Wednesday 23 March 2011
Lent Prayer - Indonesia
Project(s): 22-828, 22-908, 22-766, 22-914
Country/Region: South and East Asia, Indonesia
More Muslims live in Indonesia than in any other country. But although they number more than 80% of the population (the exact percentage is disputed), they live alongside a sizeable Christian community, whose history goes back to the 16th century. For many decades Indonesia was a model of equality and harmonious relations between different religious groups.
|Christians from Padang, supported by Barnabas Fund, delivering aid by boat to help their brothers and sisters in Mentawai, which was pounded by a tsunami in October 2010
(Source: IFGF GISI Mentawai Relief Team)
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 the rule of sharia law. The appalling bloodshed of those years has not recurred on the same scale, but Islamists still wield considerable power and influence, undermining relations between Muslims and Christians and attacking Christian churches, homes and individuals.
The militants tend to concentrate their activity in areas where the local government or Muslim community are especially sympathetic to them. For example, in late 2009 and 2010 the Bekasi and Bogor regencies of West Java witnessed a long series of violent incidents. These included repeated attacks on one church and the wounding of two of its leaders, the burning of a Christian education centre, and the intimidation of local Christians by a coalition of Islamic organisations. The authorities have failed to rein in the Islamists and have sometimes promoted their agenda.
The position of Indonesia’s Christians is made even more precarious by the manipulation of local demographics. The government has encouraged Muslims to migrate and settle in Christian-majority areas; once they outnumber the Christians they can press for the imposition of sharia. Areas that have recently shifted from Christian-majority to Muslim-majority are Papua, Maluku, Timor, Menado, Central Kalimantan and parts of West Sumatra and Central Sulawesi. Various Muslim-majority provinces have enacted various sharia regulations, and some of these apply to Christians as well as Muslims. In addition, the authorities impose restrictions on Christians’ evangelism, construction of buildings for worship, and involvement in public life.
Barnabas Fund projects in Indonesia include:
- Support for church-planters (Ref. 22-828)
- Training for outreach (Ref. 22-908)
- Theological seminary (Ref. 22-766)
- Christian university (Ref. 22-914)
This article is taken from
“Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent 2011” - order your FREE copy here.