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President Joko Widodo with the Indosia flag in the background.
President Joko Widodo

Christmas Day of 2022 became a historic one in Indonesia as the country's president, Joko Widodo, visited two churches. The unannounced visits made by the Muslim president that day marked the only times he officially attended Christian services. Speaking to the congregants at the Cathedral of Bogor, he called for peace between differing religions. "Together, let us foster tolerant relations," he announced to all those who were present. His gesture was in line with an emphasis of tolerance that was being promoted by the Indonesian Ministry for Religious Affairs during the holidays.

Regrettably, this attitude of acceptance wasn't conveyed by citizens residing in other areas of the country. The Batak Christian Church encountered opposition from approximately 20 community members when they attempted to hold a worship service at a home in Cilebut Barat, located south of the capital of Jakarta. In North Sulawesi, the Ratatatok Adventist Church was also stopped from hosting a time of worship at a home located in the village of Buyat Selatan on December 24th. Opposing villagers claimed that these congregations did not meet the requirements for the homes to be considered places of worship.

According to the police chief who was investigating the incident in the village of Buyat Selatan, in order for a Christian group to conduct services within various places of worship, there must be at least 90 congregants in attendance and they must receive approval from 60 area households representing different faiths. Yet, even when such onerous requirements have been met, militant Islamic groups frequently intimidate and pressure Christians who attempt to gather. Since 2018, the Setara Institute has recorded 298 incidents of religious conflict perpetrated by those opposing houses of worship. To learn more about the challenges experienced by persecuted believers in Indonesia, go to our country report.

Praise God for the honourable efforts made by President Joko Widodo and those representing the Indonesian Ministry for Religious Affairs to promote religious tolerance in the country. May these efforts continue to further encourage peaceful relations among the differing faith groups represented within each community, ultimately fostering harmony among the citizens of the country at large. Pray that the Lord will honour the desire of Indonesian Christians to meet together peacefully for worship by making a way for them to do so without hindrance or opposition.

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.

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