World Watch List: 47
Leader: President Joko Widodo
Population: 272 million
Christian: 33 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:
- Distribution of Bibles and Christian materials
- Discipleship training
- Safe houses
“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.”
Persecution type: Islamic oppression
What does persecution look like in Indonesia?
In Indonesia, the situation for Christians has been deteriorating in recent years, with Indonesian society taking on a more conservative Islamic character. Christians who grew up in a Muslim home often experience persecution from their families. However, the persecution intensity varies given the individual family and location. In many homes, families will verbally abuse their Christian family members and isolate them because of their faith. Only a small percentage of converts face physical violence for their Christian faith.
The level of persecution also depends on the region of Indonesia where they live. In certain hot spots, like West Java or Aceh, extremist Islamic groups are strong and heavily influence society and politics. If they catch Christians evangelizing, believers could run into problems. Also, non-traditional church groups tend to experience difficulties getting permission for building churches. Even if they manage to fulfill all legal requirements (including winning court cases), the local authorities still often ignore them.
There have been some positive developments in Indonesia. As reported by the Jakarta Post, for the first time since taking office, President Jokowi has cautiously spoken out against the difficulties believers of minority religions face when they want to set up a new place of worship.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The primary hotbed of persecution in Indonesia is the province of Aceh at the northwestern tip of Sumatra—the only province governed by Shariah law. Churches endured large-scale closures in October 2015, and the building of new churches is impossible there, and very difficult in other provinces. Converts from Islam run the risk of facing severe opposition in many parts of Indonesia, but converts in Aceh probably face the strongest pressure.
Pray for Christians who leave Islam and are heavily pressured by family and community to renounce their new faith in Jesus. Ask God to give them the support they need—as well as access to a Bible and the training to read it and grow.
Pray that churches who are trying to obtain locations for worship would find favor with the government and be granted freedom to gather and worship in peace.
Pray that God would give ministry leaders and volunteers the boldness and perseverance they need to both lead and serve the church in Indonesia.
Pray for Christian children and teens, who often face discrimination and isolation for their faith. Ask God to give them hope, to strengthen their faith—and to know that they are not alone in Christ.