Indonesian Believers Learn to Extend God’s Love to Persecutors
Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. For the Indonesian church—who is surrounded by Muslim communities—this can be a difficult task. While most Indonesian Muslims are friendly and tolerant, a small group of fundamentalists has been persistently spreading radical views and increasingly gaining followers. In places where extremism has taken hold, ‘neighbors’ frequently show their hatred toward believers.
Aiming to motivate Christians to love, bless, and reach out to Muslims in Indonesia, Open Doors holds the Islamic Awareness Seminar. The seminar, typically attended by 40 to 60 believers from various churches and ministries, imparts knowledge of the Islamic movement in the country and provides simple steps to approach Muslim neighbors in productive ways.
To do the latter, however, Christians need to look at Muslims differently and remove any stereotypes that may be lingering. Recently, a believer was violently attacked for sharing the gospel. While he was fast asleep, a stranger entered his house and stabbed him many times, leaving him in a critical condition. Fortunately, his family managed to save his life, and he has now fully recovered. However, the incident has left scars on his face and legs—and his mind.
The seminar attempts to remind Christians to see Muslims not as agents of persecution, but lost souls who repress others because Christ is absent in their lives. Not as people to fear, but to have compassion on.
Willy*, a new Christian who just finished high school, had his own love agenda when he walked into the training.
“My mother comes from a conservative Muslim tribe and family. On the other hand, my father is a former Christian who decided to follow my mother’s religion when they got married,” he says. The Indonesian law prohibits interfaith marriage. “I received Christ in high school through my aunt,” he continues his story.
As expected, Willy’s mother reacted violently to his decision. “The first time she found out that I went to church, she threw a knife at me. It took some time before she finally allowed me to go church—but even that she does grumblingly,” he recounts.
Soon after his conversion, a local church sent a mentor to nurture his faith. Through him, Willy learned to pray for his family’s salvation, especially that of his mother. But how can young Willy introduce the one true God to her? “She’s the reason why I’m here, learning at this seminar,” he said.
Aside from his desire for his family, Willy has a dream for himself: “Please pray that I would continue my studies outside this city, so I can freely go to the church and follow Christ.”
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim society, with Christians making up around 14% of the total population. Though a secular nation, Indonesia has seen mounting attacks against Christians, placing it as 47th on the 2015 World Watch List. For the last three years, Open Doors has been challenging over 300 Christians to build bridges with Muslims and develop interest for the mission field through the Islamic Awareness Seminar.
Please join us in prayer for Willy and the other seminar participants. Pray they would use what they’ve learned to reach out to Muslims. We pray that God would use Muslim Background Believers to share the gospel with those in fundamentalist groups.