Out of a population of over 272 million people, there are 33.2 million Christians in Indonesia.
In Indonesia, the situation for Christians has been deteriorating in recent years, with Indonesian society taking on a more conservative Islamic character. Christians who grew up in a Muslim home often experience persecution from their families. However, the persecution intensity varies given the individual family and location. In many homes, families will verbally abuse their Christian family members and isolate them because of their faith. Only a small percentage of converts face physical violence for their Christian faith.
The level of persecution also depends on the region of Indonesia where they live. In certain hot spots, like West Java or Aceh, extremist Islamic groups are strong and heavily influence society and politics. Christians who are caught evangelising by them could run into serious problems. Also, non-traditional church groups tend to experience difficulties getting permission for building churches. Even if they manage to fulfil all legal requirements (including winning court cases), the local authorities still often ignore them.
Christian women and girls are marginalised in Indonesia through an enforced religious dress code – in provinces like Aceh, women are required to wear a hijab. Discussion about this issue has become more prominent recently, as some state-run schools now want to implement regulations to force female pupils to wear a hijab.
There have been some positive developments in Indonesia. As reported by the Jakarta Post, for the first time since taking office, President Jokowi has cautiously spoken out against the difficulties believers of minority religions face when they want to set up a new place of worship.
Indonesia rose two spots on the 2021 World Watch List in comparison to last year’s list. This is primarily due to the fact that more pressure against Christians was reported, resulting in an increase of pressure in almost all spheres.
After two years without bomb attacks, suicide bombers targeted a church in Makassar in March 2021; thankfully, no one was killed. However, eight Christians were killed in two separate attacks in Central Sulawesi in November 2020 and May 2021. The terrorist group East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT), which has links to so-called Islamic State, are believed to have been responsible for the attacks.
These incidents come as Indonesian society has taken on a more conservative Islamic character in recent years, putting added pressure on Christians.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Indonesia. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Through local church partners, Open Doors supports persecuted believers in Indonesia by providing training, Bibles and Christian literature, socio-economic development projects, relief aid and advocacy support.
Father, please give Indonesian Christians the boldness and strength they need to serve You in an environment that seeks to push them out for believing in You. Be with the Christians who face daily struggles in their Muslim homes and families. Give them grace to live out their faith as an example of Your love. And Father, please give our brothers and sisters more freedom to worship You, and more places where they can gather in Your name. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.