How many Christians are there in Indonesia?
Out of a population of almost 275 million people, there are 33.6 million Christians in Indonesia.
What does persecution look like in Indonesia?
The persecution of Christians in Indonesia has worsened in recent years. There were three attacks on Christians within a six-month period between 2020 and 2021, killing eight believers. Indonesian society has taken on a more conservative Islamic character,
putting added pressure on Christians.
Many converts from Islam experience pressure from their families to return to Islam, although the intensity of the pressure varies according to the place and the individual’s family. Only a few converts face physical violence for their Christian faith. There are also converts from Hinduism in Bali.
Churches that engage in evangelistic outreach are at risk of being targeted by Islamic extremist groups. There are certain hotspots, such as West Java or Aceh, where extremist groups are strong and exert a strong influence on society and politics.
In some regions, church groups face difficulties getting permission to build churches. Even if they manage to fulfil all legal requirements (including winning court cases), the local authorities still often ignore them.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The primary hotbed of persecution in Indonesia is Aceh in the north-western tip of Sumatra, the only province that is governed by Sharia (Islamic law). Several churches were closed in October 2015 and the building of new churches there is much more difficult than in other provinces. In fact, it is virtually impossible. Converts from Islam are vulnerable to severe opposition in many parts of Indonesia but converts in Aceh probably face the greatest pressure.
“One thing that I am so overwhelmed with is the love from my Christian friends. I feel like I have a new family, when my biological family abandoned me. I don’t feel alone in this new journey of my life."Wanda
What has changed compared to last year?
Sadly, the persecution of Christians in Indonesia has worsened considerably, making it one of the biggest risers on the World Watch List, jumping 19 places from last year.
While pressure has increased in the national and church spheres, the main cause of this rise is an increase in violence.
After two years without bomb attacks, suicide bombers targeted a church in Makassar in March 2021; thankfully, no one was killed. However, eight Christians were killed in two attacks in Central Sulawesi in November 2020 and May 2021. The terrorist group East Indonesia Mujahidin (MIT)—which has links to so-called Islamic State—was responsible for the attacks.
Open Doors works through local church partners to support persecuted Christians in Indonesia by providing discipleship and persecution survival training, Bibles and Christian literature, socio-economic development projects, relief aid, advocacy support and opportunities for cross-church gatherings.
- Pray for God's comfort and healing for all those affected by the recent attacks on Christians, in which eight believers were killed.
- Pray that Christians will be given wisdom and boldness as they follow Jesus in a society that is taking on an increasingly conservative Islamic character.
- Pray that the influence of extremist Islamic groups will be snuffed out; ask the Lord to reveal Himself to those who oppose Him.
Dear Lord Jesus, because You suffered so much to save us, You are the best person to come alongside those suffering today. May all those still affected by the recent attacks on our brothers and sisters in Indonesia know the depths of Your comfort. Give Your children wisdom and boldness as they express and share their faith in a society that is pushing Christianity to the sidelines. Reveal Yourself to those who persecute Christians and intervene to snuff out the influence of extremist groups. Amen.