Indonesia (MNN) — Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim dominate nation, is known for its moderate society. In fact, laws which protect Christians are written into the nation’s constitution. However, it doesn’t mean Christians are exempt from persecution.
The Rise of Radical Islam
“We’ve been seeing in recent months, an increasingly sinister string of radical Islam that’s growing in pockets of Indonesian society,” FMI’s Bruce Allen says.
“And when you have a nation that’s comprised of 6,000 inhabited islands, which is what Indonesia is, it’s really easy for these pockets of radical Islam to develop. We’re seeing these spurious charges of blasphemy or hate speech leveled by militant Muslims against other citizens in the country. Simply because one person disagrees with the beliefs or another person.”
There’s also been vigilante style persecution against Christians who are publicly expressing their beliefs, or even people who express support for Christians. In April, a 39-year-old man named Alnoldy Bahari was imprisoned for five years after being found guilty of hate speech. The man’s crime: posting on Facebook that he had experienced God’s presence, questioning the majority faith of Islam. Bahari must also pay a 100 million rupiah fine ($7,200 USD).
The conviction came as a result of Indonesia’s electronic information law, which has been deemed controversial. Couple this with Indonesia’s blasphemy laws, it’s a concerning storm that’s brewing over the Indonesian islands.
“The blasphemy laws are strict. They take it seriously, but, I’ll also say it’s more vague than some of these other countries. And so, there’s the opportunity for abuse,” Allen explains.
It seems no one can be immune from blasphemy accusations. The Indonesian President’s 22-year-old son has even been accused of blasphemy because of content in a YouTube post he made. However, his case was dismissed for lack of evidence, Allen says.
Attempts at Change
Furthermore, radical factions of Islam have been circulating conspiracy theories and are attempting to oust Indonesia’s current Muslim President in the next election. One radical group named the Islamic Defenders Front, which has been growing in popularity, is another example of radicals trying to up-end the moderate culture Indonesia currently possesses.
“Despite the rise of the groups like that and the abuses in the blasphemy law cases, we’re still seeing a lot of Muslims who are beginning to quench their spiritual thirst on the living water of Jesus Christ,” Allen shares.
“So, I hate to say that ‘oh, things are just so terrible in Indonesia now,’ because I know a lot of good stuff that is happening, too.”
Hope Despite the Trials
In the last three years, FMI has come alongside the work of 20 new churches in the country. And an FMI pastor living on Java has been discipling a group of fresh Muslim Background Believers (MBBs), also known as believers who were once followers of Islam. In fact, the pastor will be baptizing these believers later this summer.
“There are many people who are daily, weekly hearing the Gospel for the very first time, and we want to come alongside those pastors…who are planting churches in difficult places, who are discipling new believers, who are evangelizing, who are performing weddings and funerals, who are doing all the things we think of in terms of Church life. But, without the resources we have here in the West.”
Be Prayerful, Be Active
So please, will you come alongside these Indonesian believers? The first way to help is through dedicated prayer. Start by praying for the families of the MBBs who are being discipled by one of FMI’s pastors. Pray they would come to know the love and hope of Jesus Christ. Also, pray for the pastor discipling these folks, and the MBBs themselves, to be able to share the Gospel and God’s Word in relevant and potent ways.
Ask God to help His people in Indonesia to impact their communities with the truth of Christ. Pray for Indonesian Christians to courageously live out their faith, radiate hope and compassion, and gently, but boldly share the truth of the Gospel.
FMI currently has 13 church planters who have been approved for ministry support. However, the funds aren’t there to bring them on as part of the FMI family just yet. Will you help support these church planters by giving today? Even $10 can add up to resource the individuals and help share the Gospel in Indonesia.
“In the world’s largest Muslim dominant country, we can still get the Gospel out,” Allen exclaims.
To learn more about FMI’s work in Indonesia, click here!