World Watch List: 36
Leader: Sultan and Prime Minister Sir Hassanal Bolkiah
Main Religion: Islam
Government: Constitutional Sultanate
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Brunei through:
- Prayer support
- Persecution advocacy and awareness
Power in the Sultan’s hands
Brunei is governed based on an ideology blend of Malay and Islamic cultural values called the “Malay Islamic Monarchy” (MIB). It was implemented by the Sultan, who sees himself as the defender and protector of the Malay race and of Islam. All power is concentrated in the sultan’s hands, and he is highly and deeply respected by Bruneians. In 2014, the first phase of a penal code based on Sharia (Islamic law) was implemented, making conversion away from Islam punishable by death or imprisonment of up to 30 years and corporal punishment. In 2018, the second phase of the code was started but has not been finalised yet.
Although Muslims in Brunei do not seem to have an interest in joining the Islamic State like their counterparts in neighbouring countries, Islam is becoming increasingly conservative, and the space for non-Muslims is getting tighter and tighter. Non-Muslim worship buildings are banned from renovating or being built, and no public Christian activities are allowed, including the celebration of Christmas. All students must learn the MIB principles, and some Christian students know them better than the Ten Commandments. Proselytising to anyone, not just Muslims, is prohibited and can result in imprisonment or an expensive fine. On the other hand, an aggressive plan of Islamic evangelism has been ongoing in Brunei. Financial incentives to convert are offered by the state and successful conversions are reported in the news.
Informers in the church
Believers from a Muslim background are under constant strong pressure to return to Islam. Parents are in a dilemma between raising their children in the faith, or risking their children accidentally exposing the family’s Christian faith. Muslim family members and neighbours often report converts and churches to the authorities. Churches, especially Malay speaking ones, are under permanent surveillance, some even with informers in the congregation.
Many young Christians have left Brunei or are considering to do so due to the growing hostilities against them, as well the dim prospects of the country’s economy.
- For Bruneian Christians to stand strong in the face of the temptation to convert to Islam. Pray also for God to convict them to stay in the country and build His kingdom there.
- Pray for the believers from a Muslim background as Brunei is a small country and there is no place to run to if they are exposed.
- Pray for a softening of the hearts of the Sultan and the Islamic leaders towards Christians.