On Sunday 13 May, Christians across Indonesia were left shocked after three churches in Surabaya, the second-largest city, suffered devastating and fatal suicide attacks, leaving at least 13 dead and more than 40 injured.
The attacks are the worst in Indonesia since the Christmas Eve bombings in 2000 and the Bali bombings in 2002 and 2005.
As Islamic State (IS) has claimed they were behind the bombings, Indonesian police revealed that the attackers all came from one family of six (including an eight year-old girl) who were part of an Indonesian IS-inspired network, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), and had returned recently from Syria.
The first explosion, which killed six church members and the two teenage sons of the family, occurred at the Santa Maria Catholic church. It was followed minutes later by blasts at the Surabaya Centre Pentecostal Church and GKI Diponegoro as congregants gathered for services.
Police throughout Indonesia immediately tightened security around churches and schools. President Joko Widodo spoke out strongly against the attacks, calling them “cowardly actions” that were “very barbaric and beyond the limit of humanity.”
President Widodo’s rhetoric appears at odds with his government’s actions, which have given leeway to radical Islamist groups amid increasing religious intolerance across the archipelago, as religious minorities (including Christians) become increasingly fearful at the changes that radicalism has wrought in politics and society.
The participation and use of children in the recent attacks has stunned all of Indonesia just days before Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims.
The attacks also came a few days after the 7 May sentencing to four years in prison of Abraham Ben Moses, an Islamic convert who became a Christian pastor, for ‘inciting religious hatred’ by sharing his faith with a taxi driver. He was sentenced under the same ‘hate speech’ laws used to jail former Jakarta governor, Ahok, for two years for ‘blasphemy’.
HOME GROUP PRAYER
“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” Psalm 37:7–11 NASB.
We come before you as your children, united in our prayers and thoughts for Indonesia after the barbaric bombings of the three Surabaya churches.
We pray, LORD, for the families of our brothers and sisters who died, and for the families of those who were injured. We pray, LORD, for the complete healing of all and for their full recovery.
We pray also, LORD, that they will be able to forgive their persecutors, as they continue to lead Christ-centred lives, focused on you.
We pray, LORD, that this horrendous incident will deepen their faith and strengthen their relationship with you, and that you will use this atrocity to bring others into your kingdom and to expand it, throughout the whole of Indonesia.
We pray also, Father, for the government and for the leaders of Indonesia, that they will rule and lead the country in justice and love, and follow after your will in all they think, in all they say and in all they do.
We pray, LORD, that this incident may indeed be the catalyst for revival in your beloved land of Indonesia, and change it from a goat nation to a sheep nation.
Thank you, Abba Father, for hearing our prayer.
In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen!
Materials used by kind permission of the original author.