Indonesian Churches Attacked

Indonesian Churches Attacked
By Lucille TalusanCWN News
November 28, 2007

CWN News - WEST JAVA, Indonesia - Only days ago, a mob of angry Muslims attacked a house church just outside Jakarta, smashing its glass windows and destroying much of the church property.
The radicals even hurled bricks and stones at the church crowd.
Church members were hurt, including the head pastor, Jau Doloksaribu, who received two stitches in his temple.
Pastor Jau says it wasn't just his body that was attacked. The militants also assaulted his God-given rights.

"The freedom to worship is a basic human right," said Doloksaribu, head pastor of Protestant Batak Church. "It is not given by government or the authorities, but it is a free gift from God that should be respected by everyone. And actually, the freedom to worship is guaranteed by the law.Victims of the attacks say the Indonesian government is doing little to protect their right to worship without interference.

Houses of worship are required to have a minimum of 90 members.
They must also receive the approval of at least 60 neighbors before they can legally hold services.

More and more Christian churches are forcibly closed, and there was even an incident where a pastor's wife was sexually assaulted.
Norma Siregar was teaching Sunday School when Muslim hardliners stormed into her house church.

"While they messed up all the Christian books, 20 men surrounded me and pushed me and touched my chest," recounted Siregar, the wife of Congregation of God Church's pastor. "When they took my Bible and I tried to take it back, they touched my body."
But the assault didn't end there.

"One man shouted, 'Because of this book, a lot of people are converted,' Siregar said. "Then he hit my head with his fist and then with my Bible."

Throughout the incident, God's peace never left Siregar.
"During that time, I did not feel afraid because the Holy Spirit gave me strength; but in the evening, I can't sleep because of the pain on my back and in my heart," Siregar shared.
Pastor Roby Elisa says he cannot understand why his wife and church were attacked when they are only trying to bring hope to the community.

"What they did is an indication that this Muslim movement is determined to make this area of Soreang and Bandung a strictly Muslim territory," Elisa said. "This is unfair for us. If we have freedom of religion, we ought to have a place for worship, but we are denied this right."
One Pentecostal church has been locked up for two years now

In the small town of Soreang, all of its 10 Christian churches have been forcibly shut down by Muslim hardliners - even the churches that have been granted permits.
This leads to questions as to whether the anti-Christian movement is being supported by the government.

Gomor Gultom is the executive secretary of the Indonesian Church Community,
an Ecumenical organization.

"The government seems to be afraid of these outrageous people," Gultom said. "They are not just being slow, they just don't want to investigate. The minority must be subject to the majority, and that is a problem."

Schools are also being targeted by the extremists.
The Arastamar Bible School has been operating for 17 years with a government permit.
It has been attacked several times this year.
On one occasion, angry Muslims burned the school dormitory that was under construction.
But despite the attacks, the school staff and students say they will not abandon the school -- they've experienced God's miraculous protection.

"People tell us that the angry Muslims complain why we need to invite many troops to protect us, when in fact we only have a few policemen," said Kusumo, the head of Arastamar Bible School. "When they see we are surrounded by troops, they leave. I believe God allowed them to see angels to show how God protects His people."
But Kusumo holds no animosity toward his Muslim neighbors.

"Basically, we don't want any conflict with the Muslims," Kusumo shared. "As a matter of fact, we live with them harmoniously. We want to reach out to them so they will know Jesus as Savior. I believe this group attacking us is only a small group that is radical and extreme."
Indonesian Christians say, like the Muslim majority, they also have the right to practice their faith, to sing and pray in houses of worship -- free from violence and unjust regulations.
They say this is their basic right, not only guaranteed to them in their country's constitution, but granted to them by. God.

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