Indonesia (MNN) — Local officials have denied Indonesian Christians the right to build churches, even though the Christians own the land. This took place in a small city near the capital, Jakarta. Around 10,000 Christians live in this city.

Bruce Allen with FMI says, “Christian leaders around the country have said this goes against the spirit of religious moderation that Indonesia has been known for. And it denies the constitutional right of 10,000 Christians living in the city.”

State vs local governments

The government of Indonesia has weighed in on this controversy. Allen says, “The Minister of Religion has even said the Christians have a constitutional right to have their own building on their property. But the city is refusing to back down.”

The Indonesian government has taken great pains to establish unity throughout its 6,000 inhabited islands. But local governments often have more practical power. Allen says, “It’s really incumbent on the Christian population to have very good relationships with the people in their neighborhoods and communities, who are not Christians.”

“Pray the Christian leaders do not become belligerent.”

Christians around the country are watching the showdown. Ask God to strengthen Indonesian Christians, giving them patience and love for their neighbors. Allen says, “Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies.’ One of the hardest commands, I think that we have to follow as Christians.”

Church-planting expansion

Indonesian Christians have a vision for big future expansion. Allen says, “In recent weeks, I’ve seen that our leadership team members in Indonesia have interviewed 12 church planning candidates for FMI partnerships. Some were on Sumatra. Many were on the island of Kalimantan, the area where the country’s new capital is being built.”

They will even interview candidates on the islands of Java, where this controversy is taking place. Allen says, “By 2023, FMI could be looking at needing to support 18 new pastors. And this is in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.”

You can support FMI’s work in Indonesia.



The header photo shows a Christian church in Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)