Pastor in Indonesia struggles with church closures comment (0)
January 9, 2014
WEST JAVA, Indonesia — Two days before Christmas, Titus, a pastor in Cimahi, West Java, Indonesia, who goes by a single name, was initially too upset to discuss the events that led to the closure of his church.
Isa Almasih Church said he had become suspicious of all people, including the reporter who came from Jakarta to meet him.
The Cimahi municipal government sealed the church building, located in a housing subdivision, Dec. 13, 2013, with a sign hanging on the gateway stating, “This building is for a residence and may not be used for worship services or similar activities.”
Church officials had long ago applied for a permit, with the application delayed in bureaucracy without explanation, as commonly happens to Christian attempts in Indonesia.
Titus said opposition did not begin until Dec. 1, 2013. A mob of 200 Muslims gathered and demanded that use of a residence for worship cease. On Dec. 8, 2013, a crowd of about 500 Muslims arrived, asserting that only a church building could be used as a place of worship. Before the week was over, the local government had sealed the property.
The congregation of more than 200 has spread into several cell groups, and Titus has refused to sign a statement promising to refrain from using the building as a place of worship. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution, he said.