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Sign sealing shut the church building in Cimahi, West Java
Photo: Morning Star News

Several congregations in West Java, Indonesia, were prevented from celebrating Christmas in their church buildings this past December. Elsewhere in the country, hundreds of police and other security personnel guarded church buildings to ensure safety for worshippers.

The congregation of GKI Yasmin in Bogor, West Java, joined together to celebrate Christ's birth under a makeshift shelter. At the time of the service, their church building was sealed off and guarded by hundreds of officials, despite two Supreme Court rulings in the church's favour. While the congregation obtained a permit to open their church in 2006, the municipality promptly revoked permission after protests from some of the local residents, as well as hardline groups. Yet there is a glimmer of hope for the congregation as the new mayor of Bogor, due to take office in April, has pledged to "review the situation."

Also in West Java, the Isa Almasih Church in Cimahi was sealed by the municipal government on December 13th, despite having been used for worship for decades. A sign was posted on the building's gate after its closure, stating, "This building is for a residence and may not be used for worship services or similar activities." Church officials had long ago applied for a permit, but the application was delayed in bureaucracy without explanation -- a common occurrence with Christian permits in the country. In the weeks leading up to its closure, large mobs had twice gathered to protest against the use of a private residence as a church. At last report, the congregation was continuing to meet together in smaller cell groups.

Pray for a breakthrough for these churches, and that God will make a way for His people to meet together for worship in this predominantly Muslim country. Thank God for the strong faith of Christians in this area who continue to meet and praise Him despite opposition and persecution. Ask God to grant wisdom to church leaders as they lead their congregations so that they may be a light to their flock and to those who oppose them and their Lord.

To learn more about Indonesia's persecuted church, please visit the Indonesia Country Report.