Vocal opposition gaining steam against believers in West Java

By September 7, 2010

Indonesia (MNN) — Christians in Bekasi, West Java have
faced growing opposition in recent months from Muslims opposed to

Tired of government inaction, Christians and other religious
minorities in Indonesia are pushing back against rising violence by Islamic

Though it has been relatively calm in the last few weeks, the tensions
never really go away. "It's always
bubbling near the surface, and then these Islamic groups get together and they
come against the church," said Greg Musselman, spokesman with Voice of the Martyrs Canada.

Over the last year, there's been a spike in trouble for
Christians in this region. Church services throughout the city have been
repeatedly interrupted and Christians intimidated into silence.   

In June, the Bekasi Islamic Congress met and set up a
"mission center" along with a youth army to oppose Christian
efforts. That movement is going up the
ranks into the legislative arena. "The
talk of sharia law in any Muslim country is always there by a radical element."

Meanwhile, the attacks are growing bolder and more frequent. Leaders of a church in West Java, Indonesia
have demanded justice from police after an attack from Muslim protestors left
at least a dozen people injured.

As some 20 members of the Batak Christian Protestant
Filadelfia Church in Bekasi gathered for Sunday worship August 8 on a church-owned plot
of land in Ciketing, hundreds of members of the Islamic People's
Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) broke through a police
barricade and ordered them to leave. When the church members refused, the
protestors assaulted the group.

Why are they attracting so much attention? Because
transformation is taking place. Musselman explains:
"Even though some of these churches in Bekasi have to be very careful, all of a sudden
literally hundreds of people are worshipping on the street. That's catching the
attention of the neighborhood."

It's a mixed bag. Where one church might be undaunted, the
Gospel efforts might be severely hindered by fear. "Those that are staying there
growing in their faith, and persecution is strengthening it. Pastor is preaching on persecution, and he's
seeing a spiritual maturity within those who have stayed."

Although it's stressful, many believers are praying that their
conduct would continue to be a witness for Christ. "Pray that they would be
strong through it," asks Musselman. "That is the prayer that we get most requests for: not
necessarily that the persecution would stop, but that they would be strong
through the persecution, and also that justice would be done."

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