Tides turn against Indonesian Christians

By February 6, 2019

Indonesia (MNN) – As radical Islam claims more and more followers, Christians in Muslim-dominated countries are hearing a wake-up call to share the Gospel.

A Definite Shift

Santoso, a speaker hosted by InterVarsity, is a Christian from Indonesia. Over the last two years he has seen a definite shift in Christian-Muslim dynamics in his country.

“Indonesia is like 250 million people, like Christians [are] 10-15% [and] so like 80% is Muslims. But Indonesia is different with Malaysia and the Brunei. So, Indonesia is not an Islamic State, not doing Islamic law, like the Sharia law. So we are very open, very democratic.

“But in the last two years, we are now seeing that Islam, it’s getting more radical and they try to make the politics combine with the religion. So they try to make their agenda. Like before they had [in] their agenda that in 2020 Indonesia [would be] becoming an Islamic country. But it’s not happening, but they are still trying and getting bigger now, the Islamic radicalization in Indonesia.”

Simple things, like the ability to say Merry Christmas, are becoming increasingly difficult. Fifteen years ago Santoso shares that saying “Merry Christmas” was common between Christians and Muslims. However, now many imams and other Islamic leaders in Indonesia discourage Muslims from acknowledging the holiday even in speech.

A Wake-Up Call

Santoso explains that while this is challenging, it isn’t all bad. “We are getting more difficult [responses when we try] to start a conversation because many people they think something, that we have a motive behind what we are doing. But the other thing is that it is good for the Christian. Because Christians in the last 10 years, we are so comfortable. Because of the things that happen, we are saying always, because of the persecution of Christianity we are more awake. So this is like the good things for the Christian because the Christians are more awake.”

(Photo courtesy of John Ragai on Flickr https://goo.gl/HVMTRr. Header photo courtesy of Prayitno on Flikr https://goo.gl/pJKgSD)

Like He has throughout time in many different circumstances, God may grow the Indonesian church through the persecution. However, that growth does not come without pain. Persecution can be devastating if the Christian is not solidly planted on the Word of God and His truth.

Bold and Outward-Focused

So, Santoso asks for prayers for boldness. He asks that people pray for Indonesians to be confident in their faith and bold in sharing, that they would build bridges and share with their neighbors about their hope in Christ.

“The second things is, please pray for all the majority of Christians because they are still in a comfortable position. They are just relaxing about their faith, just having a dream about themselves. [Pray that they would] start to thinking [about] others, not just thinking about themselves. Because many churches, many Christians in Indonesia are very self-centered, but because of these things we are praying that they are more outward focused.”

Pray for the Church in Indonesia as it comes under fire from radical Islamist groups. If you would like to learn about other ways to pray for Indonesian Christians, click here.

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