How many Christians are there in Indonesia?
There are 32.8 million Christians in Indonesia, which is just over 12 per cent of the country’s 269.5 million people. The majority of the population are Muslims.
Why are Christians persecuted in Indonesia?
Persecution in Indonesia depends significantly on which region you’re in. Radical Islamic groups exert powerful influence in areas including West Java and Aceh, and target churches which evangelise. There is increasing threat from so-called Islamic State (IS). Indonesia has fallen 19 places on the World Watch List, after being put at an unusually high place following coordinated attacks on three churches in 2018 that killed 18 believers.
"In Islam, people are forbidden from talking about Jesus, despite Him being mentioned all over the Quran. Only curious, open minds will connect the dots and find Him." Diva, an Indonesian student
What’s life like for Christians in Indonesia?
Believers from a Muslim background often face significant opposition from their families, who isolate and verbally abuse these converts. That’s why Diva, an Indonesian student, keeps her new faith secret from her family and continues to wear the hijab. "But every time I have the chance, I point my parents to Jesus in the Quran, even if it leads me and my dad to heated arguments," she says. "Carrying our cross is not comfortable."
Diva attends a weekly discipleship group facilitated by Open Doors – this and other similar classes reach 800 students a year, thanks to your support. Diva is grateful for a community of believers where she attends discipleship classes and finds support from like-spirited brothers and sisters. There, new believers strengthen one another. "It builds my character and faith. I also learn new methods of preaching the gospel. I can pray freely and find myself loving Isa [Jesus] more every day," she says.
Opposition also comes from the government, particularly for non-traditional churches. These have difficulty gaining permission to build, and local authorities often ignore successful court cases in favour of the churches. With the onset of coronavirus in 2020, Christians have been discriminated against in the distribution of aid and receipt of medical treatment.
How can I help Christians in Indonesia
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.
Open Doors supports Diva and other 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.
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Father, please give strength and encouragement to Your children in Indonesia. We thank You that the past year saw little violence, and we pray that peace would cover every aspect of believers’ lives. Give them opportunities to share Your Word with their families and communities.