Two Christian churches in Jakarta, Indonesia, are continuing to hold joint services outside the gates of the presidential palace, as a protest against the wrongful closure of their church buildings. The two congregations have been gathering on alternate Sundays for nearly two years, after a ruling by the Indonesian Supreme Court was made in their favour in both December 2010 and June 2011. This ruling has not yet been recognised or enforced by the Government.
The conflict began in February 2008, when GKI Yasmin Church in Bogor was shut down because the Bogor City Planning Office claimed that the church lacked proper building permits. However, on further investigation, International Christian Concern (ICC) discovered that the permits were only brought into question after Muslims objected to the construction of the church.
Another church, known as HKBP, was sealed by the government in January 2010, after an official claimed the church had forged the signatures of the Muslim neighbours who signed the petition agreeing to the establishment of the church. According to Indonesian law, a house of worship must have the approval of 60 members of other faiths before construction may begin. Despite a favourable ruling by the court, HKBP is still unable to reopen its doors.
The Sunday gatherings continue as a peaceful protest, with hundreds of believers gathering to sing songs and listen to Scripture. So far, they have met nearly 100 times, and say they will continue to meet there on alternate Sundays for as long as they need. After so long, however, discouragement is not far away. GKI Yasmin’s media coordinator said, “Sometimes we feel tired and…abandoned, not only by the government but also by Christians…. We seem [to be] fighting this battle alone. We really need other brothers and sisters to stand with us. However, if we have to stand alone, we will fight to the end.”
- Pray for the church in Indonesia. Whilst the government officially recognizes Protestantism, true freedom of religion does not exist for Christians in Indonesia.
- Pray for the Government to recognise the court rulings in favour of these two churches, and allow them to re-open their buildings and meet to worship with freedom.
- Pray for the government to act on it’s promise to “return to traditional Indonesian religious tolerance”, a promise that, after nine months in power, is still a long way from being realised.
- Pray for the witness of Indonesian Christians, that many in that country will come to know Christ, especially over this time of Ramadan.
Psalm 45 vs 4: “In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.”