Renewed sectarian violence in Indonesia causes concern for some missions groups.

By April 28, 2004

Indonesia (MNN)–What began as a demonstration is now entering its fourth day of roiling tensions in Indonesia.

Sniper attacks throughout Ambon on Tuesday intensified fears the region could plunge back into a Muslim-Christian war that killed 9,000 people three years ago.

The death toll climbed past 30, as troops rushed into the region to try to restore order . Mission Aviation Fellowship’s Dave Wunsch says, while their teams won’t be directly affected, “Possibly, the flare-up happened because of the elections. They just had parliamentary elections and in July, they’re going to be appointing a president, or electing a president–the parliament will be. So, there’s a little bit of instability there because of some of those things going on.”

Their concern turns to the spread of unrest in the ‘hot spot’ parts of the island nation. Wunsch cited several other agencies he knew with projects in the Ambon area.

The clashes are coming in a region where Islamic extremists have been trying to drum up support. Islamic radicals have been trying to whip up Muslim fervor in the Malukus in reaction to the global war on terrorist groups.

The earlier conflict galvanized militant Muslims across Indonesia, and it also attracted Islamic fighters from around Southeast Asia and from the Middle East.

In light of that, church and community leaders in Ambon urged calm, hoping to head off a resumption of the 1999-2001 war.

Because instability is disruptive to all outreach, Wuncsh urges prayer for ministry teams. “Pray that the Lord will give them the strength and the wisdom in how to react in there.”

His plea echoes that of the church leaders in Ambon who are trying to urging believers not to be provoked. Wunsch says it’s a hard request to fathom. “How do you react, you know, as Christians? Pray for them that the Lord will give them wisdom and how to respond, how to act. Those of us in the States can’t even fathom the fear and what these folks are going through.”

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