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Indonesia

One Muslim convert asked for our prayer to bless him as he sought to be a missionary within the community he'd just left. It was a bold move. Another former Muslim described being turned out by his family, losing his job, and his friends after accepting Jesus.

Indonesia has the largest Islamic population in the world. It is among the 50 most persecuted countries on the planet. There are hotspots where being a Christian could be a death sentence. Reportedly, an estimated 10,000 Christians have been killed in recent years on Maluku Islands by Muslims attempting to “Islamify” the population. In many locations, there is a movement to force Islam's strict Sharia law.

“The government recognizes freedom of worship, but often fails to secure Christians’ rights to exercise their faith,” according to Open Doors ministry.

In the Aceh province, churches must register with the authorities and are not permitted to evangelize. In other provinces, authorities have forcibly closed churches and Christian organizations.

In 2009, “following complaints from community groups, police forcibly dismantled a church in West Java on grounds that it did not have a building permit, while similar groups in East Java successfully lobbied for the closure of a Catholic orphanage, claiming it planned to 'Christianize' local children,” a story in Charisma magazine reported.

Other parts of the country are not as strict. One Climbing For Christ member living there said, “Is free to be Christian.” Another said, “Your religion is your religion.”

Until it infringes on the majority.

That is why so many churches in Indonesia have gone “underground” or given up a seemingly hopeless battle to build a church in the face of opposition. In one case, a church elder complained, “There are 234 buildings in (omitted) that lack building permits, including a mosque. Why was our house of worship singled out?”

The island of Sumatra was once one of the least evangelized places on earth, according to Operation World. But after the 2004 tsunami killed 167,000 people, Christians were able to minister to the hurting.

There are many other parts of Indonesia that have yet to see the Light. In all, there are 201 unreached people groups — millions who have yet to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Fast facts

Location: Southeastern Asia. Leader: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (since Oct. 20, 2004). Population: 242,968,342, the fourth-largest in the world. Primary Religion: Islam (86.1 percent) with less than 9 percent of the population claiming to be Christian.

Where in the world?

Indonesia (highlighted) is an archipelago of more than 17,500 islands — 6,000 inhabited — located between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
(The World Factbook)