Indonesia (ODM/MNN) — Muslim extremists in Aceh province made good on a threat against Christians on Tuesday, 13 October.
Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry explains, “The Indonesian Christian Church (HKI) was burned down. Their pastor and the congregation have been greatly affected by this. We’re asking people to know what’s happening in Indonesia to support persecuted Christians there, to be praying for this church.”
Curry adds that the arson follows a vicious social media campaign. “Muslim extremists have been spreading a viral message about ‘here’s what’s happening in churches’ and sort of stirring up dissension.”
In addition to the risks posed by social media, there’s what’s being preached by the imams in some of the more radical areas, says Curry. There were concerns about what the imams were preaching in the Aceh Singkil regency. ”The most dangerous time in the week for Christians is that Friday afternoon after the mosque has let out and these extremists who are preaching messages of hate towards Christians, Jews, and others come out riled up.”
That’s also been proven true in several Muslim-dominated areas as of late–like Palestine, which led to the stabbings of three Israelis recently. Curry says, in this case, the call to arms went viral in Indonesia. “With all of the technology available, there’s more opportunity for people to stir up dissension, and (now) you have this incident in Indonesia, where this church was burned down.“
Before the HKI arson, Pastor Erde, whose church was also torched last month, witnessed hundreds of extremists parading to the police and legislative offices to demand the closure of all churches in the regency. “Every church member is guarding their own church right now. Please pray that there won’t be any more church demolitions today,” said the pastor. There are about 10 churches in Aceh Singkil. Curry adds, ”There’s a lot of political pressure on police to overlook these incidents. It’s a largely Muslim culture.”
The situation Christians find themselves in is diverse. There is the president and his public statements concerning religious minorities. There are also radical Islamic groups who continue to act violently when it comes to minorities, especially Christians. Will there be justice? “We’re hoping that the police take firm actions to stop this violence, and also for Christians to respond with love and wisdom. So it’s really a balance of things that we’re looking for in this situation in Indonesia.”
Curry says the overall message is simple. “Christianity is opposed in Indonesia. It is a very difficult place to work, but we need to be praying, we need to be going, we need to be interacting with and loving Muslims in that culture. I think we keep pressing forward, but we know what we’re dealing with.”
Aceh, the only province enforcing Islamic Sharia law in the country, is among the most hostile places for Indonesian Christians to live. Indonesia ranks #47 on the the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List (www.worldwatchlist.us) of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Pray for churches in the Aceh Singkil regency, Aceh province, Indonesia, following the burning down of an Indonesian Christian Church (HKI) Tuesday. Pray especially for a change in the extremists’ hearts.