What does persecution look like in Indonesia?
The situation for Christians has been deteriorating in recent years, with Indonesian society increasingly influenced by conservative interpretations of Islam. Polls regularly show that especially young people hold conservative views, and by-laws on Islamic dress are becoming more common.
Many converts from Islam experience pressure from their families. However, the intensity of the pressure depends on the individual family and place. Most pressure for Christian converts takes the form of isolation, verbal abuse and ostracization. Only a small percentage of converts face physical violence for their Christian faith and they may be forced to relocate to another part of Indonesia. The pressure is also higher in places like West Java or Aceh, where radical Islamic groups exert a heavy influence on society and politics.
If a church is believed to be proselytizing, they will likely run into opposition from radical Islamic groups. Depending again on the region, some church groups also face difficulties getting permission for building churches. Even if they manage to fulfill all legal requirements (and win court cases), local authorities may still ignore them.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The primary hotbed of persecution in Indonesia is the Aceh Province, the only province that is governed by Shariah law. Building new churches is difficult there, and converts from Islam face the most pressure of any other place in the country. A recent decision by the legislature has also stoked fears that Shariah law could eventually be adopted in the province of West Sumatra. Generally speaking, Indonesian converts from Islam face the most pressure and risk for their faith.
“Sometimes I hear my schoolmates saying things like, ‘Hey, if you remain Christian, you will also be crucified just as your Jesus was crucified.’ They poke fun at us Christians in that way. I don’t take offense. I’m just used to hearing this.”Raymond, a young believer in Indonesia
What has changed this year?
The situation for Christians in Indonesia hasn't changed much, although there were fewer reports of violence after dozens of radical Muslims were arrested. Churches continued to face difficulties and opposition, even after obtaining building permits. Pressure remains high for many Christians, and in general, following Jesus in Indonesia may be hard for some believers.
Open Doors local partners strengthen persecuted Christians in Indonesia by providing Bibles and Christian books, socio-economic empowerment projects, discipleship and persecution survival training and relief aid.
- Though Christians worship freely in some parts of Indonesia, in others, believers can be forced into the shadows. Ask God to protect these secret communities of Christians.
- Pray for Christians rejected by families and communities because they left Islam to follow Jesus.
- Ask God to bring Indonesian society to a broader tolerance of Christian worship and open faith in Christ.
Heavenly Father, we pray for our sisters and brothers in Indonesia. Where there is fear, let there be peace. Where there is mourning, let there be joy. Where there is sorrow, let there be hope. We particularly pray for believers who risk losing their communities because they've chosen to follow You out of Islam. We pray that churches would be given permission to be built, and that Your people would see Your hand at work in Indonesia and in their lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.