MNN (01/10/06) -There are fears that attacks against Indonesia ‘s minority Christians are on the rise.
A New Year’s bomb blast in a Christian region reignited fears of more sectarian bloodshed, despite assurances from the government and military.
The Indonesian government responded to that attack by deploying troops nationwide to protect national churches as well as tourist attractions.
While many of the 90-percent Muslim majority practice religious tolerance, Open Doors Ministries’ Carl Moeller says the trouble comes from a militant minority. “In most cases, we see that the Muslim fundamentalists are claiming that Christianity is growing too fast and must be resisted with force. Sometimes they use political pressure to restrict the freedoms of Christians and sometimes they use violence.”
Some Christians in Indonesia claim that the Christian church is growing rapidly and is actually 23 percent of the population and not the reported 12 percent. As for the potential of the ‘chilling effect’ on outreach, Moeller says their work hasn’t stopped. “But we’re understanding right now, the church is also stressed over these issues, both politically and emotionally.”
The one thing they can count on, Moeller believes, is that the situation will purify the church in Indonesia . “When persecution comes Christians must re-awaken their faith they must re-understand why they believe what they believe and whether or not they will suffer for Christ. We have seen growth in the church–we have seen this creating an environment for growth. But, we also recognize that it comes as a terrible price for the Christians that are there.”
Despite persecution, the December 26, 2004, tsunami which devastated Southeast Asia and Indonesia presented an opportunity for Christians in the stricken areas to reach out to their neighbors with the love of Christ.