SURABAYA, Indonesia – A church in West Java Province, Indonesia refused to yield to Muslim intruders’ attempts to stop their worship service on Sunday (March 19), the pastor said.
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 the Rev. 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,” Pastor Julles 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,” Pastor Julles said.
About 60 people were in attendance on Sunday (March 19) including GKPS members from five other towns, he said.
In a March 20 video appearing on social media showing discussion with the intruders after the service, a man identified as the head of the local citizen association (Rukun Warga) tells Christians on a road outside the church building, “Don’t hold religious worship here anymore,” to which another church leader asks if he knows the relevant government regulations.
The citizen association head says he’s not disturbing worship, and later a young man in a grey T-shirt arrives with another man and says the wishes of the local neighbors should be respected.
Addressing the citizen association head instead, the church leader says, “There is a law for those who forbid worship, right? You yourself know it, right? Who disturbs worship should be punished, right?”
Raising his voice, the church leader points his finger at the association leader and says, “Do you know the rules, sir? Whoever interferes with worship is subject to punishment. Do government officials already know the constitution? You know the law, sir? You can’t do that, sir – go inside the church, take pictures and then disperse the congregation.”
Bobby Risakotta, who uploaded the video on his Twitter account (@bobby_risakotta), tweeted, “What happens with our worship? It is only once a week, in a closed room, bothers no public order. Does it bother your faith? My house is 50 meters away from the mosque, 5 x listening to the call to prayers a day, not to mention chanting prayers and recitation & we never feel disturbed, guys.”
The conflict comes days ahead of Ramadan, the Muslim month of day-fasting that this year begins on March 23 and concludes with Eid ul Fitr on April 22-23.
The Rev. Henrek Lokra, executive secretary of justice and peace of the Communion of Christian Churches (PGI) unit, asked for prayer in a March 20 video sent to Morning Star News.
“Please help to pray for GKPS Purwakerta that was persecuted yesterday, on Sunday, March 19, 2023,” he said. … continue reading
Source: Morning Star News