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Indonesian Christians brace for violence, pray for peaceful Christmas.

12/12/06 Indonesia (MNN)–The threat of terrorism in Indonesia is growing under a combination of anti-Western backlash and the coming of Christmas.

Government officials have increased the security in Central Sulawesi as reflected by the recent visit of the Indonesian Vice President, the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs and the Chief of Indonesian Police to Central Sulawesi .

Open Doors’ Carl Moeller says despite the promise of stepped-up security, “Christians have been asked by their leadership there to keep their celebrations modest so that it doesn’t unduly provoke Muslim neighbors in Indonesia .”

Rev. Simon Timorason, head of Christian Communication Forum of Indonesia says radical Muslim groups have been monitoring the churches more intensely after the Idul Fitri (a major Islamic holiday). This might lead to more church closures.

Keeping a low evangelistic profile doesn’t always help. Moeller says radical Muslims can become agitated… “If there’s a visit by a Western dignitary or president, a lot of times, the Muslims in the community will take out their feelings of hostility against the West, against the Christians there.”

Open Doors is building bridges in Indonesia so that the churches can be recognized as a vital part of the community. But it’s still tenuous.

He urges prayer in the Advent season. “The church is growing, and when that happens, those tensions create a tinderbox effect where a small spark, a small incident can produce violence against Christians there.”

Pray that God would protect Christians in Indonesia , especially in West Java and Central Sulawesi , as they observe Christmas and New Year celebrations.

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