He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010 

Pray for Christians in West Java, Indonesia

Indonesia (MNN) ― Christians in Bekasi, West Java have faced growing opposition in recent months from Muslims opposed to "Christianization."

Tired of government inaction, Christians and other religious minorities in Indonesia are pushing back against rising violence by Islamic hard-liners.

Though it has been relatively calm in the last few weeks, the tensions never really go away. "It's always bubbling near the surface, and then these Islamic groups get together and they come against the church," said Greg Musselman, spokesman with Voice of the Martyrs Canada.

Over the last year, there's been a spike in trouble for Christians in this region. Church services throughout the city have been repeatedly interrupted and Christians intimidated into silence.

In June, the Bekasi Islamic Congress met and set up a "mission center" along with a youth army to oppose Christian efforts. That movement is going up the ranks into the legislative arena. "The talk of sharia law in any Muslim country is always there by a radical element."

Meanwhile, the attacks are growing bolder and more frequent. Leaders of a church in West Java, Indonesia have demanded justice from police after an attack from Muslim protestors left at least a dozen people injured.

As some 20 members of the Batak Christian Protestant Filadelfia Church in Bekasi gathered for Sunday worship August 8 on a church-owned plot of land in Ciketing, hundreds of members of the Islamic People's Forum (FUI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) broke through a police barricade and ordered them to leave. When the church members refused, the protestors assaulted the group.

Why are they attracting so much attention? Because transformation is taking place. Musselman explains: "Even though some of these churches in Bekasi have to be very careful, all of a sudden literally hundreds of people are worshipping on the street. That's catching the attention of the neighborhood."

It's a mixed bag. Where one church might be undaunted, the Gospel efforts might be severely hindered by fear. "Those that are staying there growing in their faith, and persecution is strengthening it. Pastor is preaching on persecution, and he's seeing a spiritual maturity within those who have stayed."

Although it's stressful, many believers are praying that their conduct would continue to be a witness for Christ. "Pray that they would be strong through it," asks Musselman. "That is the prayer that we get most requests for: not necessarily that the persecution would stop, but that they would be strong through the persecution, and also that justice would be done."

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