Radicals Beat Pastor in Indonesia, but What Police Did Was Worse

An Underground Pastor Endured Hours of Beatings from Radical Muslims and Police for Teaching the Bible

By Daniel Harris

3/22/2017 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that an underground pastor who ICC met with recently was attacked by radical Muslims, beaten, detained by local police, and released only upon the payment of a bribe to the police.

Nur (name changed for security) has a small frame and a gentle spirit. He plays guitar for the house church where he pastors more than 70 people. He works odd jobs to provide for his family. He became a Christian because of his father, a Quranic teacher in the mosque, who turned to Christ after reading the Bible. His father is also an underground pastor. ICC’s Regional Manager met with the pastor and other underground pastors in Indonesia just days before the attack in February of this year. Each of the pastors shared with ICC stories of escaping death and surviving persecution for their faith in Jesus. But no one could have known of the danger Nur was about to face only days later.

Six days after this meeting, Nur was visiting some friends at their house in a nearby community and teaching about the Bible. Another man from the community came to the house explaining that he wanted to hear about the Bible too. They were wary, but they thought they could trust him since he was a neighbor. While Nur was teaching, three more men entered the house. One was wearing the garb of a radical Muslim organization. They took Nur outside the house and began punching him in the head. They confiscated his wallet and his cell phone and questioned him, asking him why he was teaching “heresy” and attempting to Christianize a family. The men forced Nur to go with them to a local mosque. There they stripped him, continued beating him, and locked him in a small room. One of the men made a phone call and 15 more men came. They each took turns beating him and questioning him. Nur estimates that he endured more than 30 beatings that night.

He shared with ICC, “They stripped my clothes…They forced me to do so even though they knew I was sick. They kept punching and kicking me. I counted more than 30 times they kicked and punched me that night. I thought they would kill me that night because they even did not give me any water for me to drink and take my medicine. I thought, ‘This is it. This could be the end of my life.’ I only pray[ed] that the Lord will release me from this situation even though it seems impossible.”  

When day broke, they asked him who his spiritual leader was. Nur refused to tell them so they called the police. Three Indonesian police officers arrived in a police vehicle. Only one was in uniform. They dragged him to their vehicle and threw him inside. They forced him to lie down and while one police officer kept Nur’s head pinned to the floor with his foot, they kicked and punched him as they drove to the police station. When he got to the station, he was questioned more.

They accused him of trying to create “chaos” in the community and demanded a bribe of 10 million Indonesian Rupiah (about $750) for his release. They told him that if he could not pay, he would be charged with criminal offenses. Nur pleaded with them and explained that there was no way he could ever pay this much. He told them he was an unskilled worker who had no more than one dollar in cash on him. The next day, he was allowed to call his family and explain his situation, but they didn’t have the money either. His sister went from door to door in their community asking to borrow money to get her brother out of jail. All she could gather was 1.5 million Rupiah (about $113). She brought it to the police station and begged them to accept. They told her that they could never accept such a small amount, but she refused to give up. Eventually they gave in, realizing it was all they could get out of them, and let Nur go.

The attack occurred more than a month ago, but Nur is still recovering. He told ICC that he now has hearing problems and back pain. Even though Nur admits to being afraid in that moment, he will not stop pastoring his house church and will not stop sharing the message of the Gospel with people. “I am not afraid to evangelize again and I will not stop,” he told ICC.

In Indonesia, freedom of religion for Christians is protected by national policy and evangelism is legal. However, in reality, a lack of understanding of national policy at the local level, or lack of political will to protect religious freedom means many religious minorities live in fear of persecution in Indonesia. Because of this, many churches operate underground.

ICC supports underground pastors in Indonesia like Nur. ICC is also working to create awareness of religious freedom violations like this, which are all too common in Indonesia. Please join us in praying for the underground pastors in Indonesia and consider supporting the work they are doing. To learn more about the underground church in Indonesia or how you can give directly to ICC’s Underground Pastors Fund, visit www.persecution.org

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