Indonesia (MNN) — In late 2001, rival party leaders in
Poso, Indonesia signed a government-sponsored peace accord, but tensions remain
and sectarian violence is still frequent.
A year later, in October 2002, the Laskar Jihad announced
that they were disbanding and many of its members left the Maluku area.
However, it is believed that the group merely went underground and may be
responsible for the attacks that have threatened the peace accord since.
Although the vast majority of Indonesia's 220 million
citizens are Muslim, there are large numbers of Christians in regions such as
Central Sulawesi. AMG International's Paul Jenks says that trend appears
likely to continue.
He explains, "The government of Indonesia is following
the longtime bias in Malaysia to have anti-proselytism laws which would in some
ways jeopardize any Christian ministries in that country. It's a time of renewed focus for us. We're
going into come alongside our co-workers to encourage them and revitalize that
The government requires all citizens to carry an
identification card which includes their religion. The government promotes a
belief called Pancasila – meaning that all may choose to follow Christianity,
Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism – but in reality, Muslims receive preferential
treatment. Christian groups continually face the brunt of this special status.
Voice of the Martyrs' Canada reports that two years ago, militant
groups in West Java started trying to force the closure of churches in the
area. Dozens of churches have been forced to close while the authorities
have done little to protect the Christians.
In pockets, there is religious freedom for believers to both
practice and share their faith. However,
the path may not be clear for long. It
is that sense of urgency that has AMG and other groups working to hand over
ministry projects to the nationals.
Having just marked 65 years of ministry, Jenks says AMG will
be strengthening their work in countries like Indonesia. "We're going to see movements against
conversion and we're called to win and seek and save the lost, even as our
Savior was. We're going to encourage our
co-workers to remain faithful, even in the face of persecution, we're going to
stand firm and be faithful."