Praise! Judges Rule that Church in Bekasi, Indonesia can Build a Church
After months of conflict and legal battles on September 3 the State Administrative Court in Bandung revoked the decree prohibiting Christian activities of Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, or HKBP Filadelfia Church. The church had argued that the decree, along with the closure of their worship building, resulted from pressure by Islamist groups and did not represent the wishes of the area residents. The judges ruled that the regent of Bekasi should issue a permit for the church to establish a place of worship. “This point is important because if the regent of Bekasi does what the judge said, then we will build our church,” Pastor Panjaitan said.
Since 2008 HKBP Filadelfia has sought permission to construct a place for worship. According to church leaders their request has been repeatedly denied by the regent of Bekasi. As a result, the 1,500-strong congregation had been holding services on a strip of roadside land in front of their temporary site. Guarded by police against threats from Islamic groups the congregation met under umbrellas to protect them from the intense heat of the sun and from sudden rainstorms.
Indonesian Church Leaders Wounded in Attack
In a separate Compass News report, last Sunday (Sept 12) while on his way to church, elder Hasian Sihombing was attacked and stabbed in the heart and stomach by a passing motorcyclist. Another church leader, Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak, was struck by a wooden block on her back, head and face by another motorcyclist when she tried to help him. Elder Sihombing remains in critical condition.
This is another incident of violence and persecution facing the congregation of the Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, or HKBP Filadelfia Church. In August, at least 300 members of the Islamic People’s Forum and the Islamic Defenders Front broke through a 300 strong police barricade and ordered members of the meeting to leave. When they refused, the protestors assaulted the group with sticks, stones or their bare hands. Some required hospital treatment. The chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, the Rev. Andreas Yewangoe, asked police to thoroughly investigate [the attack] and guarantee security for the church.
North Korean Church Leaders Immensely Grateful for Prayer and Help
Approximately 400,000 Christians in North Korea suffer from severe persecution; Open Doors stays in touch with some of them through letters smuggled out of the country. These letters, from one of the darkest countries in the world, mirror hope and light as North Korean church leaders express their gratitude. In one letter a church leader expressed the difficulty of finding words to show his thankfulness for Christ and His worldwide church.
“After receiving your study materials, our believers are full of enthusiasm to work only for the Lord and His kingdom. Your trust, love and faith towards us are the driving force for our love for the Lord. We are expanding our achievements in operating our church organization as well as serving our believers with your kind cooperation. I am very proud to see our believers’ faithful lives becoming more and more stabilized. Their lives are in danger everyday and still they follow the Lord. This could have not been possible if it wasn’t for your endless effort and love towards our believers.”
Father, we praise You for the work You’re doing in North Korea. Even in the midst of darkness, Your light shines brightly through Your word and Your people. Please continue to strengthen the believers there and gather more into Your kingdom. And Father, we feel the hardship of those who suffer, and we pray specifically for the churches in Indonesia who face constant opposition. We ask for favor upon the HKBP church, and for protection against further violence and attacks. We praise You that they now have government support to build a house of worship and ask for Your guidance and protection over this project.
Praying with you,
The Prayer Force Team