Indonesia has recently suffered a series of natural disasters, including a major tsunami. This impacted the lives and livelihoods of over 500 people on the islands of Java and Sumatra, leaving communities devastated. Global Christian charity, Lifewords is currently resourcing pastors and volunteers with Bible booklets, as they bring God’s hope, healing, and comfort to survivors. Please pray for people in Indonesia who are experiencing hopelessness in the face of crisis. Pray that with the help of organisations and partnerships, these broken communities may receive the support they need to help rebuild their lives, homes and hearts. Pray too for the protection of Christians who are serving in the midst of chaos and trauma.
Following the 7.5 magnitude quake that struck just off the central island of Sulawesi in September, a local Christian radio station in Palu has been providing essential on-air information to the community and emergency relief supplies to those affected. Initially the station was full of mud and water, but thankfully the radio tower was still standing. Pray for this devastated community as they rebuild their lives and their homes, and that Christ’s love and compassion will be seen through this local ministry.
The Walak of Indonesia, are part of the New Guinea people cluster within the Pacific Islanders. This people group is only found in Indonesia. Primary schools in the remote highlands of Papua, East Indonesia, have been closed since 2003. Pray for teachers so they can open again and children can learn to read and write in their mother tongue. Also, two church denominations in Papua have been unable to agree on the best way to write the Walak language. Pray this will be an opportunity for them to come together and practice humility and grace. Pray that this disagreement is resolved so that Sunday school materials can be completed and the Walak children will know they are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
At least 98 people have been confirmed dead and more than 236 severely injured in a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok on Sunday 5th August. A second earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 hit the island four days later on Thursday 9th. Over 400 people have lost their lives as a result and the damage dealt to Lombok and the surrounding area has been described as “massive” by disaster relief workers in the area. Remember those affected by this disaster and pray for rescuers as they try to get basic supplies such as food and water to the worst hit areas.
Christians in Indonesia are feeling more vulnerable after a family with children carried out suicide bomb attacks on three churches in Surabaya city in May. A woman is believed to have blown up herself and two daughters in an attack on one church. Within minutes, her husband had driven his car into another, while their teenage sons on a motorbike detonated a bomb outside a third. The youngest of the children was nine. At least 13 people died and more than 40 others were wounded. Please pray for all those affected by the attacks, which were timed to coincide with Sunday services. The next day, a family of five, including an eight-year-old child, carried out a bomb attack on a police station in Surabaya, killing at least four.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, totalling around 215 million people. However, almost 85% of them have no access to the Gospel. This leaves an immense task ahead for the existing church, for the body of new believers and for those who come alongside to envision and disciple them. Most unreached peoples are found in villages and rural areas, and more intentional effort is needed to reach them with the good news of Jesus. Time, patience and investment in relationships are then essential to seeing the long term impacts of God’s love in each of these communities. Pray for more discipleship of indigenous believers, raising up of visionary leaders and for workers to go to the unreached places.
A partner radio station in Indonesia has a counselling programme called Care & Share. Listeners love the programme so much that they formed a monthly group. They say, “It's not enough just to let people talk about problems - we have to have help.” Each month they gather together for Bible study and from there they go and volunteer in the local community. A presenter at the station was preparing for his wedding day but had no family in the area. Knowing this, the listener group decided to take care of the arrangements. They provided all the food, did all the work and took care of the cost! Pray that the love of Jesus will shine through this station.
One of the most effective ways to see ‘hard to reach’ people groups fall in love with Jesus is to have them engage with the scriptures. Sometimes their religious system inhibits or prevents them from having access to the Bible, but when those barriers are broken down, salvation and spiritual breakthroughs will come. In one part of Indonesia, over 7,600 scripture study groups were meeting regularly in 2016, all with ties back to the their local Christian radio stations. As we celebrate that God's Spirit is moving to draw people to Jesus through his word, continue to pray for a great harvest for the kingdom.
Websites are a strategic tool for presenting the truth and establishing relationships with those who are seeking to know more about God in Indonesia. Pray for those whose hearts are yearning for spiritual truth, that they will find these websites. Pray for those designing and working with these websites, that they will be sensitively bold. Pray that many will come to know and embrace Jesus as “the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
Kalimantan is known as the Land of a thousand Rivers. These rivers are a lifeline for many remote communities such as Long Alongo in Central Kalimantan which is built along the river. This year the dry season has been unusually long, and water levels dropped so low that the river was no longer navigable using motorized canoe. Difficulties of accessing the community meant the price of fuel and basic food items skyrocketed. With no other way to get supplies to this village the local government called on MAF to help. Praise God that essential supplies could be flown in and the community received the help it need.
Praise God that the Hupla people of the Soba valley, Indonesia, now have a complete Bible translation in their own language. Nearly 3,000 community members celebrated together as 5,000 copies of the new translation were flown in to the remote mountain community. Thank God for the Hupla people and for those who assisted in the translation. Pray that the word would bear fruit and that lives would be changed and set free through it.
A fascinating archipelago of thousands of islands (almost too many to count), Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country. In addition, it is home to a quarter of the world's Muslims! Polling began in April 2014 for 19,000 national and local parliamentary seats. The parties that win can run for president in the July elections. Indonesia holds great potential, but too many times corruption has kept resources and talent from benefitting all but the upper classes. Pray for elections to be fair and honest, and for the freedom of believers to be upheld. May righteous men and women gain the contested seats. May God's will be done, and may His Spirit continue to bring many to him throughout the land.
Ricky*, who comes from a Muslim background, had promised his friends he would not become a Christian. However, after three encounters with God, he decided to give his live to Him and get baptised. “I have grown fast as a Christian,” said Ricky. “[Initially] it was difficult to be a Christian. I got a lot of injuries, troubles in my family, school and so on, but again, Jesus met me... He said, ‘Don’t worry about anything; I’ve taken all your worries to the cross.’” While on a retreat, Ricky sensed God calling him to soccer ministry. “Now, my dream is to travel around the world and tell the people about Jesus, and also to share my testimony with Him through soccer.” he said. Praise God for calling Ricky. Pray for wisdom and protection as he shares his faith. *Name changed.
One hundred Christian radio ministries have been established in the Asia Pacific Region in the last 10 years. The 100th station was a radio plant in Thailand that was dedicated during a large celebration in February. Stations have also been installed recently in Indonesia, including one in a highly sensitive, unreached area. Pray that God would prepare the hearts of listeners within the coverage areas of these stations and that many would come to Christ.
Radio has proved an effective gateway for reaching Hindus, Muslims and animists in Indonesia who have difficulty accepting Christian literature or other traditional forms of evangelism. Radio also complements church work and offers a vehicle for sharing solid theological teaching in both urban areas and remote villages. Last year 21 Christian community stations were planted in this nation of 237 million people, with another 25 planned for 2013. Pray for open doors in these new locations and for the people and finances to keep each station on the air.
Give thanks for the dedication of the New Testament with the Dhao people in West Timor (Indonesia). Among those who visited the tiny island of Ndao for the celebration was a team from the Bible Translation Centre in Elcho Island, Australia. The team spent two-weeks on a ‘study tour’, having fellowship with the translators and sharing common issues. This, along with witnessing the ordination of 51 new ministers in Kupang, brought them great encouragement as they returned to Elcho Island to continue their mammoth task of translating God’s word into their clan languages. Pray that the work of translating the Bible will prosper and bless many in the years to come.
The Bangka people live east of Sumatra on Bangka Island in the South China Sea. They include people of both Malay and Chinese descent. They are predominantly Muslim, though some ethnic Bangka people mix Islam with traditional animistic practices. The Bangka economy was impacted by drastic declines in the prices of pepper and tin in the 1990’s, and the people continue to struggle financially. Ask God to do amazing things through the lives of the few believers in this region; pray too for believers who will be willing to live and work among the Bangka. Pray for the Word of God to be distributed among the Bangka and for open hearts to the gospel.
Christians in Riau Province are angered over the recent decision by government officials to cancel church building permits five months after construction began. The authorities have stated that the site will be used for other purposes and that “the Muslim community no longer accepts the presence of a Christian place of worship.” In Indonesia, a building permit is required for any construction, which workers and parishioners were able to produce, despite the invasion by local authorities. In addition, 60 signatures from local Muslim residents are required to legitimise Christian places of worship. Pray for those seeking to worship God in Indonesia. Pray for places of worship, for freedom to worship, and for the boldness to worship despite ongoing harassment and persecution.
Although there are around 20 million Christians in Indonesia the majority of the population of over 230 million are Muslims. In strong Muslim areas, wearing the hijab (a head-covering worn by women) is mandatory, even for non-Muslims. Girls who refuse to wear the hijab can be mocked as infidels by their friends and teachers - or even be blocked from passing the final exam. Pray for courage for Christian girls.
The Gayo people (population 300,000) live in the northern region of the Island of Sumatra. They speak two local dialects but have no written language of their own. Instead, they pass down folk tales and oral stories in the form of poetry. While predominantly Muslim, most Gayo also worship and make offerings to spirits, saints, and ancestors. Opportunities exist for those with medical skills to work in this region. Pray that God will raise up teams of believers who will go to the Gayo people and share the love of Christ with them.
In many island villages in Indonesia poverty is rampant. However, in one particular small village, where religious tolerance is highly valued, Christians and Muslims live together in peace. A solar-powered Christian community radio station has been established there and there are now plans to open a Community Transformation Centre. Here villagers will be trained in effective farming techniques and there will be medical and agricultural outreach from this base. Pray for lives to be changed through this ministry.
The Lembak people of Indonesia are Muslims, but like many other groups in Southeast Asia, they practice animism along with Islam. The people often seek the help of a shaman to perform ritual healings and exorcisms. The Lembak are commonly known as the Bulang or ‘turban people’ and have their own language. Pray for teams willing to go, live and work amongst the Lembak. Local leaders have significant influence in the region; pray that these leaders will come to know Jesus and for local communities of Jesus followers to be established.
From 1965, Indonesia came under the authoritarian rule of General Suharto who held power for 32 years. It was only in 2004 that the country held its first direct presidential elections. The army, which Suharto involved in every level of government, still wields enormous power and influence. There is no official state religion but Islam seems to be gaining strength politically, often at the expense of religious minorities such as Christians. The province of Aceh, for example, has imposed Sharia law and groups such as Laskar Jihad have carried out holy war against Christian communities.
The Kerinci people live on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Like many Southeast Asian peoples, they practice a mixture of Islam and animism. They have been isolated for some time, but the government is now relocating many groups to make use of the rich farming soil. A national park is also being created which will bring many foreigners into the area. Pray that as tourism opportunities open up, Christian workers may be able to live and work alongside the Kerinci. Ask that many may hear the Gospel and find faith in Jesus.
Population: 263.51 mill (2017)
Official languages: Indonesian
GDP (PPP) per capita: $12,432 (2017)
Life expectancy: 69 years
Religions: 86% Muslim, 6% Protestant, 3% Catholic, 2% Hindu, 3% other religions