Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, with Christians making up around 14 percent of the total population.
Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But for the Indonesian church—who is surrounded by Muslim communities—this is a difficult task.
While most Indonesian Muslims are friendly and tolerant, a small group of fundamentalists has been persistently spreading radical views and gaining followers. In places where extremism has taken hold, “neighbors” frequently show their hatred toward the saints.
In such a scenario, Open Doors is there to encourage Christians to love, bless and reach out to Muslims in Indonesia through the Islamic Awareness Seminar. The seminar, typically attended by 40 to 60 believers from various churches and ministries, imparts knowledge on Islamic movement in the country and provides simple steps to approach their Muslim neighbors.
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To do the latter, however, Christians need to look at Muslims differently and remove their phobia of Islam—which is not easy when one feels threatened by them. “On Friday Islamic prayer, the preacher often claims that Christians are infidels,”says a Bible School officer who heard the provocation from the local mosque’s loudspeakers.
FEAR VS. COMPASSION
Another believer was violently attacked for sharing the gospel. While he was fast asleep, a stranger entered his house and stabbed him many times, leaving him in a critical condition. Fortunately, his family managed to save his life, and he has now fully recovered. However, the incident has left scars on his face and legs—and his mind.
As challenging as it may be, the seminar attempts to remind Christians to see Muslims not as agents of persecution, but lost souls who repress others because Christ is absent in their lives. Not as people to fear, but to have compassion on.
Willy, a new Christian who just finished high school, had his own love agenda when he walked into the training.
“My mother comes from a conservative Muslim tribe and family. On the other hand, my father is a former Christian who decided to follow my mother’s religion when they got married,” he says. The Indonesian law prohibits inter-faith marriage. “I received Christ in high school through my aunt, a lay preacher,” he continues his story.
As expected, Willy’s mother reacted violently to his decision. “The first time she found out that I went to church, she threw a knife at me. It took some time before she finally allowed me to go church—but even that she does grumblingly,” he recounts.
Soon after his conversion, a local church sent a mentor to nurture his faith. Through him, Willy learned to pray for his family’s salvation, especially that of his mother. But prayer alone is not enough. How can young Willy introduce the one true God to her? “She’s the reason why I’m here, learning at your seminar,” he said.
Aside from his desire for his family, Willy has a dream for himself: “Please pray that I would continue my studies outside this city, so I can freely go to church and follow Christ.”
#46 ON THE 2017 WORLD WATCH LIST
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population, with Christians making up around 14 percent of the total population. Though a secular nation, Indonesia has seen mounting attacks against Christians, placing it on #46 of the 2017 World Watch List. For the last six years, Open Doors has been challenging over 300 Christians to build bridges with Muslims and develop an interest for the mission field through the Islamic Awareness Seminar.