Story of Edeline: How She Became a Church Bombing Victim

Edeline receives surgery at a hospital in Indonesia's Makassar.
By ICC’s Indonesia Correspondent

05/26/2021 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – This is the story of Edeline, a survivor of the suicide bombing at Makassar Cathedral Church that took place on Palm Sunday, March 28, 2021.

In early March, Edeline came to Makassar with her mother and brother to begin treatment for her mother’s thyroid condition, since Makassar’s health care facilities were superior compared to the ones in the village Edeline’s family lived in.  Due to the seriousness of her mother’s condition, the doctors advised that she goes through surgery as soon as possible, so her family made the arrangement for her accordingly.

Edeline’s Catholic faith is very essential to her. Since Easter Sunday was rapidly approaching, she longed to find a place of worship in her new city where she could participate in an Easter mass. Edeline had several relatives and friends already living in Makassar, and after asking them for some recommendations, she decided to visit Mariso Catholic Church per their suggestions.

However, Mariso Church was very far from where Edeline lived, and it was difficult for her to attend each week. Her relative, Valeri, who is also studying nursing in Makassar, invited her to attend a Palm Sunday service with her and her friend at Makassar Cathedral Church. Edeline agreed to join the two women at the service.

On Sunday, March 28, Edeline eagerly arrived at Makassar Cathedral Church with Valeri and her friend, Karina. Knowing that the church would fill up quickly, they arrived early in order to get a seat inside the cathedral but ended up sitting near the back since the front had already filled up. This Palm Sunday service was exceptional because the Archbishop of Makassar was presiding over the mass. That was a rare moment in Edeline’s life. Since the Archbishop was directly leading the service, Edeline decided to record the entire mass process on her cellphone.

After the mass ended, Edeline stopped by Mary’s chapel to pray for her mother’s upcoming surgery. She marveled at the beauty of the chapel, which was filled with soft light from the candles. In her own village, each person brings a candle from their home if they want to pray. However, at the Cathedral Church, candles are provided free of charge for use by the congregation. Edeline prayed earnestly for every struggle she was going through.

When she had finished praying, Edeline, Valeri, and Karina walked out of the church gate and began to order a taxi via a ride-hailing app so they could return home. Just as they were about to order the car, they heard a very loud explosion and felt their bodies flood with heat. In an instant, the world around them was completely different. They looked at each other in shock. Their hair had been vaporized and their faces were covered in angry red burns. There was a moment of stunned silence that was quickly punctuated by screams. They realized in shock that a bomb had just exploded right at the gate of the church.

Bystanders began to call out to them, urging them to quickly get away from where they were standing in case a follow-up bomb detonated. Edeline and Karina heard the crowd and started to move, but Valeri was still frozen in place from the shock. Realizing that Valeri was not following them, Edeline turned and grabbed Valeri’s hand, pulling her along behind her to a safer place. When they had moved away from the detonation site, they stood dazed and confused, waiting for someone to help them.

Unfortunately, many people came and pointed cameras at the three of them, asking them questions instead of offering them first aid. Valeri tried to return to the location of the explosion, where she realized she lost her cellphone. She wanted to contact some relatives who could come and help but was deterred when bystanders began to shout at her and forbade her to go back for fear of a follow-up bomb.

Shocked, the three women could only stand and wait until the police eventually came to pick them up and take them to the hospital. Arriving at the hospital, they were treated by medical personnel for their wounds. After their treatments, hospital staff allowed them to use hospital phones to contact their families.

Of the three girls, only Edeline remembered her brother’s phone number. Luckily, her brother was able to come quickly to the hospital and contact other relatives who were able to help them. However, since her brother had to take care of their mother, Edeline often was left alone in her hospital room. When ICC reached out to her and offered to pray for her, Edeline cried. As someone who is not native to Makassar, she felt cared for.

A few days later, the women were moved to another hospital, where they each underwent multiple surgeries. Edeline underwent one surgery to remove a nail that had become embedded in her ankle and she also needed to undergo an operation on the many burns that covered her body.

Thankfully, Edeline improved over the next few days and was allowed to return to her dorm and only needs to undergo outpatient care at the hospital. Today, Edeline has periodic check-ups at the hospital and continues to undergo treatment for the injuries she sustained in the bombing. Please be in prayer for Edeline and the two other women as they continue to heal. Please also be praying for Edeline’s mother as she receives medical care in Makassar.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: press@persecution.org.

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