Date: August 27, 2019
Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On August 25, the Inhil District Civil Service Police Unit stopped the worship activities at the GPdI (Indonesian Pentecostal Church) Efata Church in Sari Agung Hamlet, Petalongan Village, Keritang District, Indragiri Hilir Regency, Riau during their Sunday service.
In a video widely circulated on the internet, the church was having its service under a blue tent outdoor, with dozens of people in attendance, when a group of police suddenly showed up and disrupted their worship.
According to Samuel SG Purba., Head of Civil and Political Division at the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) – LBH Pekanbaru, this action was a continuation of a letter issued by the Government of Indragiri Hilir Regency with regards to the “Termination of the Use of Residential Houses as Worship Places” which were signed by the Deputy Regent of Indragiri Hilir, H. Syamsuddin Uti on August 7, 2019.
Rev. Damianus Sinaga first came to Petalongan Village in 2014 as requested by the Regional Council I GPdI Riau. For the past five years, his church coexisted with the community without problems, until earlier this year when people filed complaints against his church. Some villagers did not want their presence and accuse the church of using pastor’s residence as worship venue.
Despite several attempts, such as asking the church to relocate to 15 kilometers away, or summoning the pastor for negotiations, the community and the church could not reach an agreement. On August 8, the Civil Service Police Unit came to seal and stop religious activities at the residence of the Rev. Sinaga for the first time, before they came again yesterday to disband the worship service.
YLBHI – LBH Pekanbaru condemns the dissolution of church worship and believes that the government of Indragiri Hilir Regency has committed human rights violations, and is unable to maintain religious harmony in Indragiri Hilir. It also asks the government to respect freedom of worship and not to make policies that are discriminatory and against the Constitution.
HOW TO PRAY: Pray for this group of believers to remain strong in their faith. Pray for the authorities to respect the congregation’s right to worship. Pray for this church to be a light in their community.