An American pilot working for a missionary agency died Sunday in a swimming accident while trying to save teenagers swept away from shore in Indonesia.
Benjamin Uskert, a pilot and mechanic serving in Sumatra, Indonesia, with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), was at a beach with a group of people from the local orphanage on Nov. 7. While they were at the beach, they saw two teens swim into deep waters that swept them away. Uskert and another adult swam out to help them, but Uskert and one of the youths were overcome by the waves and current.
The MAF pilot was pronounced dead at the scene while the body of one of the teenagers has not been recovered. more >>
Two catastrophes that struck Indonesia within a span of 24 hours have left more than 400 people dead and hundreds more missing, according to the latest estimate.
On Monday, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake off the coast of west Sumatra triggered a towering tsunami, flattening villages and displacing thousands. A day later, the central Java volcano erupted, killing at least 32 people.
While aid trickles in to the ravaged Southeast Asian country, Christian humanitarian group World Vision already has staff on the ground trying to assess the scope of the damage. more >>
JAKARTA, Indonesia (Compass Direct News) – A church in Banten Province that has been in conflict with Muslim groups for more than two years was compelled to cease meeting in the pastor’s home last week in a bid to put an end to harassment and threats.
The Sepatan Baptist Christian Church (GKB Sepatan) in Pisangan Jaya village, Sepatan, in Tangerang district, conceded that it would no longer worship in the home of the Rev. Bedali Hulu but rather in the facilities of two other churches.
In exchange, officials agreed to process a temporary worship permit that would presumably remove the pretext for Islamic protests against the church, but they refused to accept a deadline for doing so. Pastor Hulu argued at the Oct. 7 meeting with officials and Islamic groups that local government officials be given a three-month deadline for granting the temporary worship permit, but the officials insisted on a “flexible” time for issuing it. more >>
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has called upon Indonesia’s government to safeguard religious freedom and pluralism in the wake of attacks on Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims in the country.
The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace in Indonesia says that at least 30 attacks on churches have been reported so far this year, with extremist Islamist groups targeting churches in West Java in particular.
In one attack earlier this month, an elder of the Batak Christian Protestant Church in Bekasi was seriously injured when he was stabbed while on his way to a service. more >>
Members of the Indonesian church where two leaders were recently attacked held Sunday service inside their boarded-up building despite police efforts to stop them.
About 100 members of Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) in the capital Jakarta gathered to worship while hundreds of police and security guards stood outside, reported The Jakarta Globe. Church members argued that they have the right to freedom of worship like other citizens of the world’s most populous Muslim country.
“We just want to carry out our obligations as Christians, but authorities are treating us like terrorists,” said Advent Tambunan, a church member, to The Associated Press. “There’s no justice for us in this country.” more >>
JAKARTA, Indonesia (Compass Direct News) – The country that is home to the world’s largest Muslim population celebrated its 65th Independence Day today amid a widespread sense of distrust in the government’s ability to check attacks on churches by Islamist groups.
Muslims and Islamic organizations, Buddhists and Hindus joined hundreds of Christians for an ecumenical worship service near National Monument Square in Jakarta to protest “government inaction” over attacks on Christians and “forced closure of churches,” reported The Jakarta Globe. They had planned to hold the service outside the State Palace, but the government prohibited it due to preparations for Independence Day celebrations, the daily reported.
“Why did it take President [Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono so many days to speak against the attacks?” the Rev. Dr. SAE Nababan, president of the World Council of Churches from Asia, told Compass. “Such carelessness can be dangerous for our democracy. Officials must not forget that they are accountable to the people.” more >>