Indonesia (MNN) — Thousands of Indonesian Muslims gathered
to protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta denouncing a Florida church's
plan to burn copies of the Quran.
A week passed, and the protests have only spread. On September 9, the U.S. State Department
posted a travel alert noting that, "Demonstrations, some violent, have
already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia,
in response to media reports of the church's plans."
At the close of Ramadan on Friday, the celebration of Eid
al-Fitr began with thousands of Afghanis gathered in the capital of Badakhshan province
to voice their displeasure. They also
burned an effigy of the Gainesville pastor and the American flag. A NATO base was also attacked.
It's not a surprising outcome, given past reactions to other
slights to Islam. Evangelicals across
America urged the Reverend Terry Jones to cancel his plans to move forward with "Burn-a-Quran" Day because of the consequences that would be felt by
Christians, Americans and soldiers abroad.
Paul Jenks with AMG International says they're uneasy about how
this could affect their team in Indonesia. "We, who are an American mission and have opportunity to know men and
women who are living and ministering among a Muslim majority, just are very
concerned for their safety."
Worse, it isn't going to leave the impression Jones claimed
he wanted to leave. "I think he's going
to ultimately do exactly the opposite…of what he hopes to do." Jenks explains the measure of his
apprehension in the size of the consequence of Jones' "foolishness."
This situation opens the door to the Gospel's adversaries. "There are countries that are predominantly-Muslim, where the doors are almost completely closed to Christian witness, and
there's a large segment of Islam, especially those in the extreme reactionary
part that would love sharia law to be the dictate in places where it's not."
Will a push for sharia law in Muslim-dominated countries
have traction? There has been a
movement toward secular governments which has kept it at bay. However, sympathies could shift because of
this pastor's action. "Giving them an
excuse to say, ‘See, they [Americans] are the great Satan that we've been talking about,'
just strengthens their case. Showing
love and mercy is what Jesus did."
Prayer is the ultimate recourse. Jenks says their team is heading to Indonesia
in the next couple of weeks to meet with hundreds of pastors and give them encouragement. The event was planned long before the Jones
debacle, but it has more significant meaning now.
It also carries a lot more risk. Jenks says that makes it more imperative for
them to encourage their co-laborers of the Gospel on the frontline. "It
would send the wrong message to them, I'm afraid, because they're in the
face of this week after week."