On Palm Sunday, 2021, an explosion ripped through the entrance of a church in Makassar, Indonesia. Valeria and her two friends, Karina and Edelina, were getting ready to leave the church after attending Palm Sunday service. “At the time, we believed that an electric substation nearby had exploded, but soon after, we began to feel the heat and pain in our bodies,” Valeria recalled. “We had no idea that a bomb had just gone off in front of our church.”
A suicide bomber had detonated his bomb
, killing himself and another attacker. At least 19 people at the church were wounded
, and the authorities later found the attackers were part of an organization
affiliated with the Islamic State group.
Valeria will never forget that Palm Sunday. Every year, in the weeks leading up to Easter, she’s reminded of how that day affected her life—the agony of ongoing chronic pain and the itching on her skin and body make it impossible to forget.
Her last two years have been spent in the hospital for treatments, numerous operations, and medical checkups. “I had another operation on my hand last week in Makassar before returning to my hometown,” Valeria recently told us. “I am so grateful that the government has paid for all of my operations. There is an institute that has funded my regular medical check-ups. However, I was taken aback when I learned last week that it would no longer cover my medical check-up costs going forward.”
Valeria thanks God for being with her as she struggled to finish nursing school while still dealing with the severe pain of her burns. “God has given me the ability to complete this nursing program despite the severe agony, which occasionally makes it difficult for me to study,” she explains. “And now I’m a graduate. I made the decision to move back to my hometown, and a few weeks ago I began working as an honorarium nurse at the local clinic.”
This Easter, Valeria will spend it with her parents and younger siblings in her hometown after spending the previous few years in Makassar finishing her studies. “In church, my friends and I have been practicing some of the songs we’ll be singing at the Easter service,” she says. “I enjoy singing, and I am thankful that the bombing did not injure my vocal cords, allowing me to continue to serve God with my voice.”
Even as she continues to cover, Valeria is a powerful witness to how God continues to work in her life, giving her strength each day—and even redeeming the horrors of the bombing. What she’s gone through has given her new insight into the person of Christ. “After the incident, I had to have surgery a few days later,” Valeria says. “So, it was on Friday—Good Friday. I was laying in the surgical room with my arms outstretched. They had been in a lot of pain from the night before. It was almost unbearable. ‘Jesus, is this the kind of pain you suffered when you were crucified this Good Friday?’ I recall thinking. ‘This is so painful!’”
This realization made her even more aware that God understands her suffering because He has also gone through it—and worse. And she is thankful that she has a God who understands her pain.
Valeria also has greater compassion for the patients she cares for as a result of her own experience. “I am able to identify myself with their anguish, loneliness and the chill of the operating room,” she says. “This enables me to serve them better because I have experienced what they are experiencing.”
Valeria is thankful for everything that God allowed to occur in her life and for the way He has transformed her. “I can now accept my condition and am thankful for the experiences God has given me,” she says. “Even though there are still those who see me differently, I now have greater delight in living this life because God has made it possible for me to accept myself. I pray that nothing like what occurred to me will ever happen again, especially on this Easter Sunday.”
How you can pray with Valeria:
• Pray that God will show His provision for Valeria in miraculous ways, as she is now financially responsible for her medical care.
• Valeria longs to move up from an honorarium employee status to a permanent one. Pray that God will make a breakthrough for her.
• Pray for Valeria’s healing from trauma and that she will have the confidence to speak out about God’s work in her life and in her heart.
Open Doors local partners have been journeying with Valeria since 2021 and supporting her with prayers and encouragement, as well as necessary support when needed. Our partners thank God for Valeria’s recovery and that her faith that has been strengthened during this devastating season.