Indonesia (MNN) — In Indonesia, a Catholic lay group and a prominent Muslim organization have renewed an interfaith commitment to peace. The partnership promotes social justice and harmony between different religious groups.
Bruce Allen with FMI says such alliances are not uncommon in Indonesia. “I have seen this many times. Let’s say FMI is providing construction materials so FMI partners can meet in a church building instead of a home. Muslim neighbors come and help the church be built. They’re saying, “I’m a Muslim, but we’re neighbors, we help each other.’”
“So that’s the perspective that’s being taken by these two groups.”
Indonesia gained independence from Dutch colonial rule in 1949. The government realized they needed to unify 6,000 inhabited islands, and tried to build religious tolerance into the constitution.
Allen says this attitude brings many opportunities for FMI partners. “They will invite their Muslim neighbors, and the Muslim neighbors do attend their services. That openness does allow for spiritual conversations and evangelism to go on. But there are pockets of persecution.”
Persecution can exist on one island, or even one part of an island, and not in other areas. The World Watch List, which describes the most difficult countries for Christians, Ranks Indonesia at 28. Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim majority country by population.
How to pray
Pray for perseverance among Indonesian Christians, and that their love would reveal Jesus to their neighbors.
For those who are persecuted, Allen says, “Pray they would look to biblical directives for how to deal with persecution, which includes blessing and forgiving your enemies. These are perhaps the hardest instructions in the New Testament.”
But also pray that interfaith work between religious groups will create change in Indonesian society, removing pockets of persecution and replacing them with harmony.
The header photo shows a Catholic church in Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of Bennylin, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)