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The Bekasi subdistrict of Jakarta dispatched a backhoe
to the Batak Protestant Church on March 21 to knock down
church walls that had been under construction since January 2013.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Tensions in Indonesia are on the rise, as opposition to churches seeking building permits continues mounting. After years of struggling to obtain a permit, upset Christians in the West Java province of Indonesia were forced to tearfully stand by and watch as a backhoe moved in to demolish their local church.

On March 21st, the partially constructed Huria Kristen Batak Protestant Church in Taman Sari Village (Setu district) was completely levelled. Nearly 40 local government officials were behind this decision, claiming that the 13-year-old church had no building permit. Although representatives of the church have repeatedly applied for authorization, they were continually met with ongoing opposition in their predominantly Muslim neighbourhood.

In an effort to defend their house of worship, the church's 600 members assembled outside the site earlier that morning to pray against the demolition order and plead with officials to reconsider. Unfortunately, the officials proceeded with the order to destroy the church building. While the pastor of the church, Torang Parulian Simanjuntak, intends to file a lawsuit for the illegal action, worship services will be taking place near the demolition site in the interim.

Another incident occurred at the Damai Kristus Catholic Church in Tambora, West Jakarta, later that same week (March 23rd). Militant Muslim groups closed off the building for three hours, leaving dozens of congregation members confined inside and others locked out. Although instigators claim this church had no permit either, the application has been pending with officials since 1987.

Although the country's constitution guarantees freedom of worship, the procedure for the construction of buildings in Indonesia is complicated and can take five to ten years for all the necessary documents to be obtained. The process is even more complex for Christian places of worship, since permission for the buildings must be met with approval from local residents and the group for Interreligious Dialogue. For an historical overview, please go to the Indonesia Country Report.

Pray that through God's intervention, positive changes will be made regarding the processing of building permits, which are currently being denied to churches in these communities. May He also work mightily in the hearts of all who oppose His presence and conviction. Finally, ask that His peace would reign over all areas of conflict, so these believers will be able to worship Him freely in their homes and churches.

Country Information

Designation
Persecuted

Population
275,122,131 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Javanese (40.1), Sundanese (15.5), Malay (3.7), Balak (3.6), Madurese (3), Betawi (2.9), Minangkabau (2.7), Buginese (2.7), Bantenese (2), Other (23.8)

Religion (%)
Muslim (87.2), Christian (9.9), Hindu (1.7), Other (0.9), Unspecified (0.4)

Leader
President Joko Widodo (2014)

Government type
Presidential republic

Legal system
Civil law system based on the Roman-Dutch model and influenced by customary law

Sources: CIA World Factbook.

Pray for Indonesia

Pray for the continued growth of the church in Indonesia, despite the intense opposition and persecution that has taken place. May the destructive plans of the enemy to eradicate Christianity be frustrated and nullified.

Pray that whatever is intended for evil, God will turn around for good -- causing such hatred and violence to not only discredit extremism, but to also compel many to seek salvation in Christ... including the perpetrators of persecution.

end

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