Millions of Indonesians are becoming Christians, often secretly as militants continue to kill devoted believers, according to an investigation by Christian news agency BosNewsLife. At least three to four million Christians “turned to Christ” over the past year, but the government refuses to recognize this trend in the world’s largest Muslim nation, said Christian officials with close knowledge about the situation.
The secretary-general of Indonesia’s main Pentecostal denomination GPdI says the reported spread of Christianity comes despite ongoing suffering. Johannis (‘John’) Hus Lumenta told BosNewsLife that “up to 20 GPdI members are killed annually” due to their faith in Jesus Christ amid mounting concern about spreading Islamic extremism here.
Many others have died in separate church bombings. Some “accepted Jesus Christ as Lord” because they saw or experienced miraculous healings during evangelistic outreaches, Lumenta added.
Christians, including former Muslims, also cite disappointment about Islam’s strict regulations and perceived lack of freedom as reasons to convert. “Even if you see someone dressed as a Muslim, he or she may have become a Christian,” a seasoned evangelist explained.
130 MILLION CHRISTIANS
In Jakarta, the capital, at least 40-50 percent of residents may be “Christian,” according to church group estimates.
It remains unclear how many of them are “born-again,” a move that involves accepting Jesus Christ as “personal Lord and Savior.” Being “born again” is seen by many pastors here as the essence of Christianity.
“We expect half of Indonesians to be Christian, at least in name, within five to 10 years,” a senior church leader and evangelist told BosNewsLife. That could mean at least some 130 million Indonesians identifying themselves as Christian by 2028.
Officials were supplying the figures on condition of anonymity as conversions remain a sensitive issue in Indonesia.
PRIEST URGING PEACE
The priest of Jakarta Cathedral, Indonesia’s most known Catholic parish, urged the government to prevent a repeat of attacks against the growing churches ahead of upcoming presidential elections.
Markus Yumartana said he hopes authorities would continue “on the path of religious tolerance” that he claimed marked the recent Asian Games, the largest sports event ever held in terror-prone Jakarta.
(Source: Christian Newswire)