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04/22/2020 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On April 19, when a family whose members belong to the Christian Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) were praying at home, two men from the neighborhood burst into their house accusing them of holding a banned gathering.

Given all public activities are banned in Indonesia and people are told to stay at and work from home thanks to the pandemic, the family in Kampung Rawa Sentul, Cikarang Pusat, Bekasi Regency, West Java only could meet at home since worship at church was temporarily suspended.

The 11 people at the house, who are all part of the family, witnessed the two men, the hamlet chief and a neighbor, trying to enforce the ban with force and rudeness, telling family members to stop praying.

A video recorded by the family which went viral on social media shows that the owner of the house tried to explain the activities involved, but the men still chuckled and claimed that they could not worship inside the house. The village chief had a wood stick in his hand.

Once the village chief realized he was being filmed, he became more agitated and tried to snatch the phone from the woman who was recording. Failing this, he left.

Arion Sihombing from this family shared on the social media, “We are used to praying together, but those two arrived suddenly at our home and ordered us to stop praying. We fear that these people will bring their followers for more hostile acts.”

Once the video was uploaded online, it went viral, with many people slamming the village chief and the neighbor for their hostile act, including Ridwan Kamil, the governor of West Java, who said he regretted to see this and promised to follow up.

Later that day, a mediation took place between the two parties. According to Bekasi Metro Police Chief, Senior Commissioner Hendra Gunawan, the two sides met and made a statement, pledging that in the future they would improve communication so that a misunderstanding like this will not occur.

The Police Chief said that while the homeowners thought the accusers intended to ban their worship, the accusers were trying to reinforce PSBB (large-scale social restrictions).

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].