Indonesia Baptists report country on brink of terror

WASHINGTON (BP)--Indonesian Baptist leaders expressed thanks to the Baptist World Alliance for a recent letter of support and asked prayer for their country, racked by religious and political conflicts, conflicts sometimes directed against the minority Chinese population in Indonesia.

"It seems we are facing a war," said Guntur and Ingrid Subagyo, leaders of the Union of Indonesian Baptist Churches. They described their country as on the brink of terror after the bombing in the basement of Jakarta's main mosque last week.

"Many Moslem young people believe it was Christians who placed the bomb and they have threatened to burn down Christian churches. Every day we are threatened," the Subagyos report. The Indonesian government has called for calm.

Meanwhile religious conflict in Ambon, ethnic conflict in Borneo and the rampages over East Timor independence all add to the unstable situation. Many people are again fleeing the country.

In Ambon, many in the Baptist congregation have lost their houses or have been injured. Baptists in Jakarta are helping victims there with medicines, clothes and food.

"We are afraid, but we trust the Lord," the Subagyos say. At a time when much of the world's attention is focused on the tragedy of the Balkans, the BWA letter of support cheered them up, "because we know that our brothers and sisters are praying for us."

In the pastoral letter sent to Baptists in Indonesia at Easter, Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary, reminded them that they are not alone in their suffering.

"So much ethnic conflict, so much religious persecution engulfs your nation and your world," Lotz wrote. "We are saddened that so much of this wanton destruction is caused by a conflict of religions, by bigotry and ethnocentrism."

"We shall continue to protest religious persecution and religious harassment wherever it occurs," Lotz wrote to the three BWA member bodies in Indonesia. "We shall continue to call upon the United Nations to seek all means to restrain hostile attacks upon people of faith."

The two other BWA member bodies in Indonesia are the Convention of Indonesian Baptist Churches and the Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Irian Jaya. There are more than 80,000 Dani and other tribal Baptists in the Irian Jaya Fellowship while the Convention and Union have more than 47,000 baptized believers in 257 churches.

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