PHOENIX (BP)–An eyewitness to the persecution Christians are suffering at the hands of Muslim extremists in Indonesia has challenged Southern Baptists to intervene with the Gospel.
“In Maluku and some other parts of Indonesia, Christians are being persecuted because … radical Muslim groups … realize the Christian faith is growing incredibly in Indonesia,” Ronnie Serworwora told messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix June 18.
He talked with IMB President Jerry Rankin before an estimated 4,000 attendees during the final session of the annual meeting.
Serworwora, currently a student at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tenn., testified about the persecution he and other Christians have experienced in Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.
“For more than four years Christians [in Indonesia’s Maluku Islands] suffered cruel attacks from … Jihad holy warriors,” Serworwora said. “At least 300 churches were burned down and thousands of Christians were killed there.
“My uncle was one of the victims.”
Muslim extremists are trying to wipe out Christianity in the Malukus because doing so will demonstrate that Islam can triumph in other parts of Indonesia, Serworwora said.
But there still was a note of optimism in his solemn message: “If we can win Indonesia for Christ, I believe the rest of the Muslim world will turn to Jesus as well.”
But the road to that vision is paved with hardship and difficulty: Dead relatives. Torched homes. Bloody streets. Political instability. Loving one’s enemies.
Many Christians have had to flee to jungles or mountains to avoid capture, Serworwora said. Christians who are caught are forced to convert to Islam and then forcibly circumcised — both men and women.
Radical groups are trying to force Indonesian believers to live under “Sharia” law, the Islamic code for conduct and punishment for crime, he added.
Serworwora grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, where his family and church experienced persecution as well.
“We thought that we would have to move from that area, … but God told our family, ‘No, you have to stay there and still be My witness.'”
Physical and financial hardships affecting all Indonesians have worsened the suffering of Indonesian Christians, Serworwora said.
“People in Indonesia are suffering because of famine, disasters and economic crisis,” he said. “Millions of people are blessed by Southern Baptist world hunger funds, and we are thankful to God for that. But there are still millions of people who need your help.
“The doors are wide open for your missionaries, for your church mission team to come to Indonesia,” Serworwora said. “Don’t be afraid to come to Indonesia. There is no safe place in this world but in heaven.
“Right now, there are millions of Christians in this world facing the persecution. Are you, Southern Baptists, your brother’s keeper? Yes, you should be!”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: EYEWITNESS.
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MORE ON PERSECUTION IN INDONESIA
Oppressed Ambon Christians cry out to God for relief: http://imb.org/core/story.asp?id=610.
Christian woman recalls horror of forced conversion: http://imb.org/core/story.asp?id=652.
Muslim woman apologizes for forced conversion: http://imb.org/core/story.asp?id=653.
Muslim militia killing Christians in Indonesia: http://imb.org/core/story.asp?id=738.
God’s love: An urgent message for Muslims: http://imb.org/core/story.asp?id=825.