For the third time in three decades, the Pakpak Dairi Christian Protestant Church (GKPPD) in Indonesia was set on fire on Aug. 18. It was allegedly torched by extremists who opposed Christianity in the Aceh Singkil regency of Aceh province. Fire reduced the building to ashes in 20 minutes.
In their investigation, police discovered a traditional machete and wheel traces of two vehicles on the arson site. Despite the evidence, police announced a few days later that the fire was presumably caused by a short circuit, stopping further inquiry. Fear of upsetting the Muslim community was another factor. After an attempted past arson of the church in 1999, a mob threatened to set ablaze the police station should the suspects, who had been apprehended, were not set free. The demand was immediately granted. The church was also set on fire in 1979.
Approximately 350 church members now hold worship services in a yard next to the police line. They gathered funds, bought a tent and set it up for Sunday services.
“We know we are being watched by the extremists. Some even have threatened to destroy the tent,” Rev. Erde Brutu, leader of GKPPD in Singkil, says. “But I remind the congregation: ‘Don’t give in to the temptation of fighting back. If we retaliate, how are we different from those who trespass against us?’”
Rev. Erde and his congregation need our prayer support; he is almost desperate over the repeated incidents.
“What strengthens me is knowing our Christian brothers and sisters are praying for us,” he says. “Pray that God will touch the perpetrators’ hearts and turn them to Him, as well as for the law to be enforced in other similar cases in my hometown.”
Aceh, the only province enforcing Islamic Sharia law in the country, is among the most hostile places for Indonesian Christians to live. Indonesia ranks #47 on the Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.