The Unshakable faith of Pastors Called to Lead the Suffering Church in Indonesia
It’s hot, and it’s hard to distinguish the sweat from the tears on the faces of the Christians in the crowd. Suddenly a woman screams as the metallic arm of a backhoe tears through the brick wall of her church. The air is filled with cries of despair mixed with the strange staccato rhythm of applause as dozens of local radical Muslims pump their fists in the air while chanting “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great!)
The Suffering Church in Indonesia
Pastor John (name changed for security) watched in dismay, helpless to stop the demolition of this beloved place of worship. Heavy-hearted, he observed the crowd and saw the delighted faces of onlookers who were yelling and clapping as the church walls were smashed to rubble. “I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. There were teenagers and even small children cheering with joy,” he said in an interview with ICC.
Sadly, Pastor John, who was visiting from another part of the city, says this church demolition was just one event in the now all-too-common saga of churches being forcibly shut down across Indonesia, a common form of persecution of the suffering Church.
In 2012, ICC estimates that at least 50 churches were forcibly closed by local governments around the country eager to comply with the demands of radicalized Islamic groups. Unfortunately, 2013 is proving to be just as bad, if not worse.
Called to Lead the Persecuted
Pastor John gave his life to Jesus after a family member converted. Little did he know that he would not only become a pastor, but that God have him lead the suffering Church in one of the most radical Islamic areas of Indonesia.
After graduating Bible school, with little more to go on than faith and a gritty determination that he would follow after God no matter what, Pastor John began to minister to the people of Bekasi, Indonesia.
A few months later, that determination was dramatically tested. As Pastor John was delivering his Sunday morning message, 15 men clothed in traditional Islamic garb stormed up the steps of his church, shouting and yelling at the church members. They demanded Pastor John halt services immediately and vacate the premises. A small man, John strode forward to meet the raging group. Speaking with a courage he says could have only come from the Lord, John forcefully told them, “Listen, you have no business interrupting my service. Leave now, and I will come speak to you outside when I am finished in a few minutes.” Amazingly, the men quieted, turned around, and walked back out the door.
This was not the end of their attacks. The church now meets in different locations almost every Sunday, trying to avoid detection and the harassment that comes along with it (a common form of persecution of the suffering Church). Other churches in recent years have not been so fortunate, sometimes facing angry mobs of hundreds or even thousands as they try to gather for services. Yet John still reflects on that first encounter, and how God was with him when he quieted the mob.
From This Rubble
As Pastor John watched the destruction of a Christian church on March 21, he resisted the temptation to lose faith. He grabbed the hand of the church’s pastor, climbed on top of the rubble and led the congregants in a prophetic prayer: “Lord, we believe that even from this rubble you will raise up a new church, stronger than ever before.”
Please continue to pray for the suffering Church in Indonesia, as they courageously live their faith boldly in the face of extreme persecution.
BY RYAN MORGAN