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.