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ICC NOTE: Despite persecution, the church in Indonesia continues to grow as population numbers show 20 percent are Christian. Many remain registered as Muslim but are considered to be of the underground church. Even though the Islamic Defenders Front terrorizes Christians and calls for the closure of churches, they remain powerless to completely eliminate believers. In West Java all 29 Christian churches have been closed even after they reached all requirements for their building. In Aceh, Christians face persecution at the legal level as the province has been given full authority to rule under Sharia law.

1/1/2016 West Java, Indonesia (CBN News) – Radical Muslims are pressuring officials to close churches and jail pastors in Indonesia. And that’s not all.

The extremists stir up violent mobs to destroy the buildings and threaten believers. But that’s not stopping the Church from growing in the world’s largest Muslim-populated nation.

Recently, a group of Muslim protesters shouting “bongkar,” which means tear down, demanded a Christian church be shut down. Such scenes are common in some Muslim-dominated areas in Indonesia.

In a city in the province of West Java, all of its 29 Christian churches have been forcibly closed even after meeting the requirements needed to operate legally as a church.

The pastors are saying that the main reason is because Muslim extremists are pressuring the local government not to grant licenses to these churches.

Indonesia’s most radical Islamic group, the Islamic Defenders Front, is the driving force behind the church closures.

Many times, it turns violent as was the case when radical Muslims stormed Surabaya Pentecostal Church.

“Angry members of the Islamic Defender’s Front barged into our church and destroyed our musical instruments, chairs, everything,” the church’s pastor, Bernard Maukar, told CBN News.

“It’s been more than a year since I passed all requirements to obtain a legal permit for our church, but the local government did not pay attention to it,” he continued. “And because I was holding Sunday Service without a permit, they put me in jail for three months.”

“My arrest was illegal, but the police arrested me because the angry Muslims were waiting outside the church,” he said.

But even behind bars, Pastor Maukar continued to share God’s message.

“Christians inside the prison invited me to give the sermon,” he said. “I preached that God never leaves us and He is present in each of our situation.”

“This blessed the prisoners, including the Muslims,” he shared. “They asked me to pray for them Christian style and when I laid hands on the sick they got well.”

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