Monday, December 17, 2007

Arrests in Indonesia -- Prayer, persecution go hand in hand

While we certainly should be praying for their safety, we shouldn't be surprised by the recent arrest and imprisonment of more than three dozen Christians in Indonesia. Scripture tells us as believers to expect persecution because of Jesus' name.Several weeks ago Bob Prouty, a longtime friend and a leader for Campus Crusade for Christ (Australia), told me about an outrageous Indonesian government case against a group of Christian leaders in that country. He shared with me that 41 Christians with ties to Campus Crusade's ministry were sentenced to five years in the Indonesian prison system for their participation in a prayer meeting. Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reported that "during the time they prayed for the nation, [they prayed] that all Muslim leaders come to know Christ." VOM reports that video footage of the prayer meeting was "leaked to a Muslim organization."Apparently the most controversial part of the film revolved around a segment showing a person at the prayer meeting pointing to the Koran and describing it as the "source of all evil in Indonesia, from violence to terrorism." Asia News reported that "Article 156A of the Indonesian penal code establishes a minimum sentence of 5 years in prison for offending religion." Apparently Indonesian prosecutors condemned both the prayer gathering and the subsequent context of the video recording as a "religious offense" (punishable under Indonesian state law).Sources in Indonesia are quoted as saying the 41 believers were "found guilty of abusing the Koran" with "the judge [sentencing] them to five years in prison." All reported stories from Asia indicate the lawyers representing the Christians would appeal the conviction and impending sentence from Surabaya, Indonesia. We shall see.
Regardless of the outcome, it's evident there is little or no freedom of speech in Indonesia. Still, the American media establishment has shown it is very reluctant to tell the truth about the contempt and intolerance officials in these countries have for religious expression, particularly that of Judaism or Christianity. Talk to the Christians in Iraq, the Christians in Bethlehem, or the believers in Saudi Arabia or many other places in the Middle East. You'll find that sharing the gospel in those countries -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the Gaza strip, Syria, Yemen, or the Sudan -- can cost Christians their lives.
By James L. Lambert

As in the days of Noah....

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