Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Let Us With A Gladsome Mind"1 (Lyrics)
1 John 3:13 – Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. (NIV)
The Indonesian archipelago consists of 17,508 islands, of which about 6,000 are inhabited. For about 300 years, these islands were called the Dutch East Indies. First mention of the Dutch being there was around 1595. In 1800, it became a Dutch colony and remained so until 1949.
When I was a little boy attending a Christian school in the Netherlands, we learned a lot about that country. Many people had relatives there, either in the military or on business.
The churches in the Netherlands sent missionaries there for centuries, and every Monday morning, we took a penny to school to assist them in bringing the gospel and establishing churches for the Dutch people who lived there as well as the indigenous population. The Word of the Lord spread, and many churches were built.
In December of 2018, a small article in a Dutch-language newspaper, published and printed in Ontario, Canada, had the following headline:
MORE THAN A 1000 CHURCHES CLOSED DURING A PERIOD OF TEN YEARS
The article went on to say that in Indonesia, the Christian church is under pressure. In the previous month, three churches had been closed for administrative reasons. These closings ran parallel with the increase of Islamic rule, old laws having been strictly enforced and new ones being created. On the island of Sumatra, several churches were closed without a reason having been given. There is persecution of Christians in many places, resulting in the murder of some and the closing of the churches, as the headline stated.
The churches were very important to the Dutch who lived there at the time of it being a Dutch colony, and a great many of the local people adopted the Christian faith as well. But now, they are being persecuted and even killed for their faith, and their places of worship are being closed.
From the early days of Christianity, believers have suffered. Peter understood persecution. He had seen it first-hand, and he knew what it took to stay strong in tough times.
1 Peter 4:12-14 – Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (NIV)
People can persecute believers in Christ, and those with power can close every church and bulldoze down every place of worship, but the Word of the Lord will last forever. We need to pray for Christians in many places who are persecuted at the present time.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we do pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering. We ask that You would give them strength to keep the faith. We also pray, Lord, that You would speak to the hearts of those who have the ability to stop the persecution of believers in Christ and that a change will come about. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Good word, Joel.
AMEN to that prayer, Joel.
Blessings to you
Thank you, Joel, for sharing this. We should be grateful for the freedom we have to worship.
Amen Joel! The word of the Lord shall endure forever. Christians are persecuted, killed, ridiculed, ignored, disrespected but the word of the Lord shall stand forever.
Grateful to be given the opportunity to pray for these dear folks being persecuted. Somewhere in the world it is always going on. I do appreciate the way you ground your writing in the reality of our times, with facts and figures.
Oh Joel, this seems to be the course of action wherever radical Islam gets a toe hold. Praying for those who are being persecuted and martyred for Christ Jesus’ sake. However, Revelation tells us martyrs for Christ will eternally dwell beneath the throne of God. Again, praying for them. Blessings.
Amen, Joel! And it will happen here also. In fact, it is. Our culture is rapidly moving away from Christian faith and putting restrictions in place that affect or are enforced mainly on Christians. Laws are changing almost daily. And too many Christians huddle in their churches and tell themselves everything is all right.
Such a very true, and timely account of what so many everywhere are facing, and the great need for prayer on their behalf. Another sobering thought is if our bibles were seized, and it then depended on what we had read, mediated on, memorized and applied in our lives, how long would we be able to spiritually eat? Thank you for today’s devotional.
Thanks for submitting this devotional. It is so sad when we hear of people being so cruelly persecuted for having a Christian faith. Our prayers must continue for a change of heart in those who are determined to destroy Christianity in many countries.
We pray for the former Dutch.
May God mightily be present in the many islands in the hearts of the people. May the gospel of Jesus Christ prevail and take root in the hearts and minds of many. And God please keep strong the faith of the threatened people.
A good friend of ours came to Canada from Holland. Our friend has dementia but has not forgotten she was born in Indonesia because her father worked there they went back to Holland when she was 3. She said KW area was the only place who never made fun of her accent. We cannot imagine making fun of anybody’s accent what would we sound like in any other country.
Like your devotionals.
Bless us with the determination to submit to the power of Your Holy Spirit within us, that we may always be the right tool in Your hand for the right task. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
You write, “….the Word of the Lord will last forever. We need to pray for Christians in many places of the world who are persecuted at the present time.”
I pray for all of the people of the former Dutch Islands of Indonesia.
Please God, cause the knowledge of Jesus Christ’s Kingdom of salvation, righteousness, and peace to be spread throughout the vast areas of the world threatened by false religions, and unbelief. Give faith in Jesus Christ and courage I pray.
And dear God please suppress all false religions throughout the world.
Give faith in Jesus Christ with courage, peace, and holy confidence to your people throughout the world.
While I have no problem with the main point you were making in yesterday’s PCC Daily, the information which you quoted from the Dutch-language newspaper seemed a bit “off” to me, based on what I learned from an associate pastor in Jakarta.
He confirms that “more than a 1000 churches closed during period of ten years.” that intolerance is raising in Indonesia. However he states that church closings are usually caused by the mixture of lack of permit and an intolerance attitude. Many churches are quite aggressive in planting new parishes and they often build new churches anywhere without a proper permit. The Muslims sometime wonder why there are so many churches built in the predominant Muslim country. They often see this aggressive church planting as a threat. He also confirms that Christians are often discriminated, but it does not mean that they are often prosecuted or murdered. So far, the government has been trying hard to maintain religious harmony. In fact, believe it or not, Good Friday and Ascension Day of Jesus Christ are officially celebrated as public/national holidays in Indonesia!
Essentially, while the story you quoted was true, the life of Christians in Indonesia is a reasonably safe life. When there are human rights abuses, those are dealt with under human rights legislation. Many churches are flourishing. The Word of God is alive and well – as, of course, it always has been and always will be. Your pennies were well spent!
The main point of your meditation reflects a core Christian belief. I just think that it can be made in a positive way, not as an “over-against” assertion.