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Global prayers, letters helped women endure

6/12/07Indonesia (MNN) — Christians are celebrating the early release of three Christian women from an Indonesian prison last Friday.

“The ladies were able to be released unharmed, unscathed, and returned to their families. It was a beautiful, beautiful moment,” said Carl Moeller of Open Doors.

The women were arrested and jailed after Muslims accused them of illegally converting children to Christianity in their Sunday School, which is a violation to the country’s 2002 Child Protection Law. Moeller said, “Of course in the Muslim world that is a horrible offense.” Muslim children were attending the Sunday School they called Happy Sunday. However, the children’s parents had given them permission to attend.

Dr. Rebekka Zakaria, Eti Pangesti, and Ratna Bangun were released after serving a little less than their three year sentence. It was “shortened after we had pressed the government there for an early release for them,” said Moeller. Local officials released the women at 6 a.m. local time after hearing about violent Muslim protests planned for the original 9 a.m. release.

“Many people don’t realize that although there is a substantial Christian population, there is the largest Muslim population in the world. In certain regions in Indonesia there’s violence every week against the church,” said Moeller.

The women are grateful to those who participated in the global letter writing and prayer campaign. “These ladies would tell you right away in first conversation with them that it was the prayers and support of Christians around the world that enabled them to get through two years separated form their families,” said Moeller.

Through these women’s suffering and release from prison, Moeller says it’s clear to see the impact Christians can have. “Our spiritual understanding of the nature of the church is increased, and we’re able to see how indeed we are connected at a deep spiritual level with each other.”

The women already have plans for the future and will continue doing the work of the Gospel.