Samarinda Children, victims of church bombing in Samarinda, East Borneo on Nov 13, 2016.

Not one but three bombs exploded across three churches in Indonesia’s Surabaya, capital of East Java province, on the morning of Sunday, May 13, when the worship places were packed with churchgoers. At least 13 people were killed in the attack – including worshippers, a suicide bomber, and several police officers. Over 40 others were injured.

The explosions took place at a Catholic church (Santa Maria), a Protestant church (GKI Diponegoro), and a Pentecostal church (GPPS). reported that the blasts occurred one after another between 7.30 and 8 AM. Three other explosives were later found at two of the church premises, but were successfully defused by the bomb squad.

Prior to the incident, local media reported, an unknown woman “sporting a jacket and bag pack” had forced her way through to the Protestant church while worship service was in progress. Despite attempts by the security guard to halt her, she entered church premises and minutes later, a bomb exploded. Police still investigates who might be behind the atrocity.

Within hours after the tragedy, Open Doors rushed to the site to strengthen the survivors and assess possible needs. “A pastor [of the bombed Pentecostal church] apparently came to our SSTS (Standing Strong through the Storm) seminar eight years ago. His response to the tragedy is really biblical,” said a project officer.

Indonesia, which has gone up to the 38th on the 2018 World Watch List, has survived a series of terrorist attacks for the past two decades, including the deadly Bali bombings in 2002, Jakarta hostage standoff in January 2016, and a petrol bombing in Samarinda, East Borneo church on November 2016, severely injuring three young children and killing another. Just a few days before the Surabaya blasts, five policemen were assassinated by terror convicts at the Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) detention center in Jakarta.

Among the more lethal and active terrorist groups in the country are Jemaah Islamiyah (JI),Jamaah Ansyarut Tauhid (JAT), and recently ISIS. Foreign nationalities, police officers, and Christians are typically targeted.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the victims and their families; for strength and comfort to those who were left behind, and for recovery to those who were injured.
  • Pray for the Lord’s intervention and protection; may He foil any further evil plans.
  • Pray for Indonesian believers and church leaders to respond as Christ did and stand as beacons of light, hope, and forgiveness in this tragic situation.


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