Christians in Indonesia face persecution and violence. And it gets worse during Ramadan. But that doesn’t stop Christians like Samir, Sarwo and Lina trying to witness to their neighbours. “Ramadan is actually the perfect time to preach the gospel. It is easy to engage Muslims during this time and tell them about God’s salvation.”
This year, Ramadan runs from sunset on Thursday 23 April – Saturday 23 May . To help you pray during this time, for each week of Ramadan we are releasing stories about the experience of persecuted Christians during the fast. This week believers in Indonesia share about the extra pressures which Christians face during Ramadan.
Ever since Samir* and his wife decided to follow Jesus, they have never been free from intimidation and threats. “The local Muslims would come to my house and force us to fast and pray, since we don’t show up at the mosque anymore. It gets worse during Ramadan,” Samir says.
Believers from Muslim backgrounds often feel the greatest pressure from their Muslim community to return to Islam during Ramadan. However, there are Christians in Indonesia who consider it the perfect time to share the gospel with Muslims.
Samir had already attended persecution preparedness training run by Open Doors partners, so he was able to respond to his persecutors with love and not anger, telling them not to bother him and his family as they were now Christians.
But his neighbours didn’t listen. More people came to his house to pressure him and his wife. “They forced us to denounce Isa (the Arabic name for Jesus) and return to Islam. If not, they threatened us with several things. They said, if we die, no villagers will take care of our corpse, or if we get sick, no one will visit or help us. They even threatened to kick us out of our house and this village.”
However, Samir stood firm and replied to them, saying, “This is my house. You have no right to expel us from our own house.” He knew his rights as he had also received a handbook from Open Doors partners that explained Christians’ legal and religious rights, according to the laws of Indonesia.
Sarwo*, another believer, shared how he has been continuously mocked during Ramadan. His house is located just opposite a mosque and he could always hear the preacher’s sermons over the loudspeakers during the evening prayers. The preacher would openly talk about Christians in his messages, mocking them as infidels. He would warn Muslims not to receive any support from Christians and that they must not ever befriend Christians.
Samir and Sarwo are part of a group of believers from Muslim backgrounds in Indonesia. Every week, they attend a discipleship class with their mentors, where they are constantly reminded that as followers of Jesus, they must always share God’s love with others, even when they face increased pressure and persecution during Ramadan.
This group tries to find ways to be a blessing to their community during Ramadan, like cooking food for their Muslim neighbours. Sometimes, other opportunities present themselves.
Lina*, Samir’s mentor, explains, “Last year, we experienced a lack of clean water. At the same time, we were receiving clean water from a believer. The Muslims came to us for help, so we shared our water with them. We also got second-hand clothes that are still wearable, and we gave some to those who were in need. By doing so, we want to be a blessing to them during Ramadan. And we find that generally the community welcomes our support.”
She continues, “Ramadan is actually the perfect time to preach the gospel. It is easy to engage Muslims during this time and tell them about God’s salvation.”
Your prayers and support are enabling Open Doors to provide training and encouragement to believers who face pressure and persecution in Indonesia – thank you!
Find other stories exploring the experience of persecuted Christians during the fast. Each story is accompanied by prayer points, and questions for reflection, so they can be used as the basis of a Bible study or discussion group. There is also a simple Ramadan factsheet, giving some background on the fast.
Open Doors supports persecuted believers in Indonesia by providing training, Bibles and Christian literature, socio-economic development projects, relief aid and advocacy support. These activities help strengthen the church in Indonesia facing a rise of Islamic extremism.
*Name changed for security reasons