A church in West Java Province, Indonesia refused to yield to Muslim intruders’ attempts to stop their worship service on Sunday (March 19), Morning Star News reported.
About 60 miles southeast of Jakarta, two Muslims entered the building of the Simalungun Protestant Christian Church (GKPS) in Purwakerta, took photos and video and told the congregation to disperse, but pastor Julles Purba said he continued the worship service until the end.
“They told us that from now on, we should not hold worship service here since, they said, we have no permission,” Purba told Morning Star News.
The church building, a 13-meter by 8-meter traditional roofed structure with no walls that allows passersby to see in, was built two years ago for the now 36-member congregation.
“We never faced any dispute or conflict in the past two years,” Purba said.
About 60 people were in attendance on that Sunday including GKPS members from five other towns, he said.
The conflict came days ahead of Ramadan, the Muslim month of day-fasting that began on March 23 and concludes with Eid ul Fitr on April 22–23.
Indonesia ranked 33rd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Indonesian society has adopted a more conservative Islamic character, and churches involved in evangelistic outreach are at risk of being targeted by Islamic extremist groups, according to Open Doors’ WWL report.
“If a church is seen to be preaching and spreading the gospel, they soon run into opposition from Islamic extremist groups, especially in rural areas,” the report noted. “In some regions of Indonesia, non-traditional churches struggle to get permission for church buildings, with the authorities often ignoring their paperwork.”