Indonesia is largely off the missions’ radar screen of most Christians because they believe that Indonesia is a closed Muslim country. Also, many Christians think that Indonesia is a very dangerous country because of spectacular terrorist bombings.
Indonesia is the 4th most populated country in the world (240 million).
It is the country with the largest Muslim population.
It is an archipelago of 17,000 islands that stretches from the Indian Ocean to Australia.
Though there are many ethnic groups, the national language (Bahasa Indonesia) is widely spoken throughout Indonesia.
Indonesia is not a closed Muslim country:
Though the majority of Indonesians are Muslims (85%), Indonesia is NOT a Muslim country.
It’s constitution, Pancasila (which means “the Five Principles”) states that every Indonesian must believe in the one and only God!
Therefore, all Indonesians must profess one of the following official religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism or Confucianism). In the eyes of the law all these official religions are equal. Though in practice, Islam does get favourable treatment in many places because it is the majority religion.
Most Muslims in Indonesia are nominal. Most of them are really animist in heart and Muslim in outward form.
Fanatical Muslims are a tiny fraction of the population and are concentrated in a few provinces of Indonesia.
Christians (Protestants and Catholics) make up 8.5% of the population. They are free to practice their religion. In fact, in many parts of the country, Christians form the majority.
Indonesia is not a dangerous country:
The recent bombing in Jakarta has put Indonesia back in the news. However, to put things in proper perspective these bombings are meant to grab world-wide attention and are directed at Westerners (not Christians).
There are attacks against Christians and churches are bombed. Again, these are not endemic throughout Indonesia, but generally occur in a few perennial “hot-spots” where large populations of Muslims and Christians live side by side and compete for scant resources (eg. Ambon).
Indonesia is ripe for the Harvest:
Indonesians are responding to the Gospel in large numbers. No reliable figures are available because such data is sensitive to the Muslim majority.
In the past, most converts were from the nominal Christian tribes (eg. Bataks). However, in the last decade large numbers of Muslims are being converted. Many of these converts do not adopt the outward forms of “Christianity” but continue with their previous forms while using the Bible and fully trusting Christ as their Saviour. This trend makes it even more difficult to get accurate data on the number of Christian converts.
Where should missionaries go and what should they do in Indonesia?
Indonesian Christians are the best people to evangelize their own people. Thankfully, God is raising more and more Indonesians to do His work.
The missionaries’ main roles are in encouraging, equipping and helping them to reach out to their own people. Therefore, there are many co-operative opportunities for missionaries in these areas of ministry.
Interest in learning English is also growing in Indonesia and there is a need for English teachers – in NGO organizations or on the university campuses. These provide excellent “bridging activities” for the furtherance of the Gospel.
The wind of the Spirit is blowing in Indonesia.
The doors are open.
This is the time to pray for the Lord of the Harvest to send forth labourers into Indonesia.