“[Saul] Timisela, 44, of Woodbridge, N.J., is one of 80 Indonesian Christians living in New Jersey who fled religious persecution from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country,” The Washington Post reports.
By Bob Considine
3/6/2012 United States (Washington Post) – Saul Timisela was ordered to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Newark early Thursday (March 1) morning to be deported.
Instead, the Indonesian Christian took sanctuary at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, where the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale is trying to save a group of Indonesian refugees who fled their country to escape religious persecution more than a decade ago.
Timisela may have felt safe given ICE’s historical reticence to raid churches where illegal immigrants are being harbored. But at the same time, he was sorry to say goodbye to his wife of 10 years — another Indonesian Christian who’s also in hiding because she has overstayed her visa and does not have an open case with the immigration agency.
“This morning was our first day in 12 years we have not sang together and prayed,” Timisela said through tears. “Every morning, we sing together and pray.
“Now I pray myself.”
Timisela, 44, of Woodbridge, N.J., is one of 80 Indonesian Christians living in New Jersey who fled religious persecution from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country. He arrived here on tourist visas in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to Kaper-Dale.
The pastor has made it his personal crusade to get this group asylum by petitioning ICE and political officials since 2009. A House bill would let Indonesian Christians in the U.S. apply for asylum even if they missed the deadline.
“These are not threatening people,” Kaper-Dale said. “They’re not terrorists. They’re not people who have done anything wrong other than escaping persecution from their country during a very scary time.”
Timisela said he arrived in New Jersey 14 years ago, after his pastor and brother-in-law were dismembered and burned in a church in an anti-Christian attack in Indonesia.