World Watch List: 49
Leader: President Joko Widodo
Population: 269 million
Christian: 32.7 million
Main Religion: Islam
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Indonesia through:
- Bible and Christian literature distribution
- Equipping and training
- Fostering unity among churches and mission agencies
- Socio-economic development
- Emergency aid relief
“Even though my wife and children left me, I will faithfully follow Isa. But please pray for my wife and children, that someday, God will touch their hearts.”
– Ridho, an Indonesian believer from a Muslim background whose wife and children left him, and was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for following Christ.
The shift to Islamic norms
Indonesia is a culturally and religiously diverse country. It is the most populous Muslim nation in the world, but it also has large numbers of religious minorities like Christians and Hindus. The situation for Christians varies among regions, it is in hotspot areas like Aceh and West Java that the church faces the most intense persecution. Aceh is ruled by Sharia (Islamic law), while several other provinces have introduced Sharia by-laws. Radical Islamic groups in these areas are active and have strong influence over the society. Indonesian authorities, especially local officials, are increasingly giving in to the demands of these groups. A growing number of students agree with the views of Islamist groups.
The air of hostility
Even though there wasn’t a large-scale violent attack like in 2018, there is a general air of hostility against Christians. They face all sorts of discrimination in their daily life. Christian students have found that it is much harder for them to be accepted into prestigious universities or to receive scholarships. Children are mocked and called “infidels” at school. Some Muslim families stop their children from playing with Christian children. Muslim religious leaders preach hatred against Christians and spread false rumours about them.
Churches are prevented from functioning normally. Local communities hinder churches from meeting and complain about the presence of the church in their community. Violent mobs sometimes attack and close churches, led by radical groups. New churches find it hardest to be registered or construct church-buildings. Even when they have gotten permission from the central government to do so, radical groups would mount massive protests and stop the process. A church that is seen to be proselytizing, as many evangelical and Pentecostal churches do, would face even more trouble.
A different kind of pressure
Believers from Muslim or Hindu backgrounds experience varying degrees of persecution from their families or religious leaders, usually in the form of isolation, house arrest, verbal abuse, etc. It is not common for persecution against converts to be violent. They would be pressured to return to their original faith. If the pressure fails, converts would simply be cut off from their families and communities.
- For churches that have not been able to be registered or have a place to gather for worship. Pray that they will have the wisdom to know what to do in the situation, and that God will provide them a way to do so.
- For the Christian children who face much bullying from classmates and teachers at school. Pray that they will know for whom they are suffering, and that they will be able to stand strong for Him.
- More and more Indonesian students are being radicalised, especially in universities. Pray that Christians in the nation will be equipped to know how to engage these students, and show them the love of Christ.