Indonesia (MNN) — Christians in Indonesia face some of the harshest forms of persecution. It’s a risk for believers to openly share about their faith. If they do, they could be beaten or even killed.
Yet, recently, a new form of persecution is on the rise — Christian girls are being targeted by Muslim men.
Christian Girls Targeted
“Influential leaders are literally training young men to target Christian girls to impregnate them,” World Mission’s Greg Kelley says.
“They target them to try and sort of diffuse the spread of Christianity because the family of the Christian girl is so ashamed that…they’re forced into marrying that daughter into a Muslim family.”
Kelley says this is not happening across the board in all Muslim-majority areas. However, it is becoming more frequent in countries like Indonesia.
Families are put into difficult situations because they are shamed and because a dowry system is applied in Indonesia. Further, many Christian families are often impoverished.
Knowing this, the girls’ attackers come to her family and say they will not make them pay a dowry for their daughter.
“The family, because the shame is so overwhelming, they agree to that… and the Muslims who are being trained to do this, they understand that. That’s why they’re doing that. They’re taking a Christian into a Muslim family so they can influence [her].”
Once girls are married into the Muslim families, they’re often cut off from or abandoned by their families and they face even more difficult circumstances.
In some cases, girls are the second or third wife of their persecutor and they have few freedoms.
They are “being withheld the basic human rights that a lot of women in America take for granted, living in many cases underground.”
An Unending Influence
Even though these Christian girls are living under the influence of Islam in a challenging situation, Kelley says, in many cases, they remain loyal to the Lord, and their own influence of faith does not end when they are married.
“They still have the opportunity to raise a child, to influence a child, so it’s not like the impact of the Gospel ends there. It just puts this young lady into an incredibly difficult set of circumstances, but her influence doesn’t end.”
Often the girls will continue worshipping Jesus in secret.
“If her husband found out she was openly serving Jesus, he would divorce her. There’d be no consequences to him to getting rid of her because that would kind of be defiling Islam.”
Kelley says it’s important for believers around the world to know about this persecution so they can pray.
Pray for Christian girls who have been attacked and forced to marry. Pray for her family, for wisdom, and for safety. Pray also for the persecutors and leaders who are training men to rape women, that they would have their eyes opened to this evil and come to faith in Jesus. Finally, pray that the Lord will continue lifting up a generation of strong believers in Indonesia despite the persecution.
World Mission partners with nationals on the ground who connect with, love, and encourage these women in their state of difficulty. Support them through your financial giving here.
Header photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash.