Indonesia is the world’s fourth most-populated nation on the planet. Home to more than 250 million people, it ranks right behind the US in terms of population. This also makes it the world’s largest Muslim-dominant nation; nearly 90% of its citizens now follow Islam. But it wasn’t always that way.
Rediscovered in the early 1800s after being hidden by volcanic ash and jungle growth, the complex of Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and dates back to the ninth century; it is now a focal point for Buddhist pilgrimages once again. Of the six religions officially allowed in Indonesia, Buddhism is the second-oldest, after Hinduism, which began its influence as early as the first century AD. It was not until the late 1200s that commercial traders who were Arab Muslims brought Islamic thought and practices with them; by marrying into the elite ruling families, Muslims became the dominant religious force. But before any of these religions had come to the islands, animism (a belief that that there is no separation between the spiritual and material world, and that spirits inhabit animals, plants, rocks, mountains and rivers, etc.) held sway among various tribes.
False gods and beliefs have blinded these people for centuries. While evangelical Christians make up less than 6% of the population (and are often persecuted despite the fact that Christianity is one of the legally sanctioned religions), the Christian minority courageously seeks to introduce fellow citizens to the truth and hope found in Jesus Christ. FMI Pastors are discipling their congregations to evangelize their communities.
One woman who attends an FMI church plant is using her university degree to push back the darkness in her community. With a degree in English but denied employment in the local school system because of her Christian faith, Yuli has opened up a club for neighborhood children to learn English. She includes the Bible as her textbook and transparently informs the parents of that fact if they want to enroll their children in the club. Still, she now has about 150 children in the program and several families have been drawn to the light of Christ through the testimony of Yuli and her husband.
Another young woman, Reni, attends a different church led by an FMI-supported pastor. She just recently trusted Christ for salvation and has often been verbally and physically abused by her husband for converting. Still, she sports a huge smile as she shares with others what her relationship with Christ means to her. “I’ve been liberated by the love of Jesus Christ and no one or no situation can take away Jesus’ love for me.”