For the third time in three decades, the Pakpak Dairi Christian Protestant Church (GKPPD) in Indonesia was set on fire on 18 August by extremists opposing Christianity.
For the third time in three decades, the Pakpak Dairi Christian Protestant Church (GKPPD) in Indonesia was set on fire on 18 August. Extremists who oppose Christianity in the Aceh Singkil regency of Aceh province are allegedly responsible for the arson. Fire reduced the building to ashes in 20 minutes.
In their investigation, the police discovered a traditional machete and wheel traces of two vehicles on the arson site. Despite the evidence, police announced a few days later that the fire was presumably caused by a short circuit, halting any further inquiry. Fear of upsetting the Muslim community was a contributing factor in suspending the investigation. After the attempted arson of the church in 1999, a mob threatened to set ablaze the police station if the suspects, who had been apprehended, were not set free. The demand was immediately granted. The church was also set on fire in 1979.
Approximately 350 church members now hold worship services in a yard next to the police line. They gathered funds, bought a tent and set it up for Sunday services. “We know we are being watched by the extremists. Some even have threatened to destroy the tent,” Rev. Erde Brutu, leader of GKPPD in Singkil, says. “But I remind the congregation, ‘Don’t give in to the temptation of fighting back. If we retaliate, how are we different from those who trespass against us?’”
Rev. Erde and his congregation need our prayer support. “What strengthens me is knowing our Christian brothers and sisters are praying for us,” he says. “Pray that God will touch the perpetrators’ hearts and turn them to Him, as well as for the law to be enforced in other similar cases in my hometown.”
Aceh, the only province enforcing Islamic sharia law in the country, is among the most hostile places for Indonesian Christians to live. Indonesia ranks #47 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List.