Catholic and Protestant churches need to unite if Christians are to resist a rise in intolerance and radicalism in Indonesia, according to church leaders in that country.
Growing incidents of hate speech and opposition to the building of places of worship by Muslim hardliners, as well as the blasphemy case against Jakarta’s Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, have alarmed minority groups across Indonesia, including Christians.
Many believe the governor, popularly known as Ahok, is being targeted by hardliners because they don’t want a Christian running the Muslim majority nation’s capital.
If they are to fight intolerance, Catholics and Protestants need to unite and heal wounds caused by the split in Christianity hundreds of years ago, which is still affecting Christian ties worldwide, including Indonesia, according to Reverend Markus Priyono of the Bethel Tabernacle.
“Reconciliation is needed to heal these wounds,” he told more than 700 Christians at a gathering organised by Semarang Catholic Archdiocese and the Union of Christian Churches to mark the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity, which ended yesterday, January 25th.
The Protestant pastor also encouraged Christians to build mutual trust and respect for each other’s uniqueness.
Echoing his views, Father Aloysius Budi Purnomo, head of Semarang Archdiocese’s Interfaith Commission, said reconciliation among Christians is necessary before reaching out to people of other religions, as it will make a bigger impact.
Meanwhile, Reverend Sediyoko of the Java Christian Church played down fears of Muslim radicalism. He said if Christians unite, they will be able to see that radicalism is not a threat to Christianity.
“Radicalism can be a medium of introspection for Christians,” he continued, which we should counter, not with violence, but with love.
- Give thanks for the week of prayer for Christian unity that has just ended. Pray that there will be a significant rise of unity between churches and denominations across the world, as well as in Indonesia.
- Pray for the Church in Indonesia, to heed to call to unity and to work towards the healing of historic rifts.
- Pray for Indonesian Christians to have courage and enduring faith in the face of growing opposition against them.
- Pray for the Christian Governor, Ahok, as his trial continues in Jakarta. Pray for justice to be seen to be done, and for him to be released without charge.
- Pray for Indonesia, for many across this nation to encounter Christ Jesus and come to know the truth of His gospel and grace.
Ephesian 4 vs 1 – 3: “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. “