The Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA RLC) recently held its annual national training seminar on the Biblical theology of persecution and advocacy in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was designed to equip persecuted church leaders and Christians to live a victorious life in Christ and to empower them to be religious liberty advocates in their communities.
The seminar, held over 3-days, comprised training sessions on the Biblical theology of persecution, a vision for religious freedom, biblical basis for human rights, advocacy, how to use the media for advocacy, citizen journalism, digital security and UN mechanisms.
Indonesia is home to the largest Muslim population in the world. Although the country is known as a model democracy in a Muslim nation, the activities of fundamentalist movements have threatened the peaceful coexistence of different religious communities in the country. As a result, Indonesian Christians, who form around 10 percent of the population, have come under severe pressure from Islamic extremists who commit anti‐ Christian violence with impunity and sometimes even in collaboration with local authorities.
Many other local governments in Muslim‐majority areas also attempt to implement sharia‐inspired regulations, some of which discriminate against Christians. Various laws inhibit the public expression of Christian faith, evangelism and the construction of churches.
Rev. Godfrey Yogarajah speaking during a teaching session.
In this context, the WEA RLC organized a national training seminar which saw 77 church leaders from across the country; including 4 Bishops, former Christian parliamentarians; lawyers and other professionals attend. The groundwork for the seminar was carried out by WEA’s local partner, the Fellowship of Indonesian Evangelical Churches and Institutions (FIECI). Notably, the training was also attended by both evangelical alliance leaders and leaders from the World Council of Churches (WCC) constituency.
At the conclusion of the training, Indonesian church leaders decided to form a Religious Liberty and Advocacy Forum. The chairman of the FIECI, Rev. Nus Reimus and the executive director the WEA RLC, Rev. Godfrey Yogarajah inducted the members who were elected, prayed for them and launched this forum.
“The Lord moved in a marvelous way during the 3 days of training. We believe the participants were not only equipped through the seminar to better handle situations of pressure and persecution for their faith, but also in turn to train and equip other Christians to withstand persecution,” said Rev. Yogarajah.
He added: “Many Christians serving in difficult situations were strengthened to live victorious lives in Christ. It was also a joy to witness, many participants being inspired to be religious freedom advocates in their communities. The most significant outcome of the training was, however, the 20-member religious liberty and advocacy forum that was launched at the end of the seminar. We praise God for this.”
Christian leaders expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the seminar. Father Daniel Biantoro from the Orthodox Church of Indonesia said: “This seminar has been enlightening to me in many ways. There is much that I’ve learnt over this past 3 days. It has especially helped to understand that when people face persecution, we have to find a way to help and advocate for their rights. Thank you so much for conducting this seminar in Indonesia.”
Rhesa N. Sigariaki, a local church pastor shared: “I’ve been blessed by attending this training seminar. I am moved by the facts presented about the persecuted church around the world. It has ignited a spark in my heart to pray for the persecuted church. I also feel tremendously blessed for the insight I gained from the training about the biblical theology of persecution and advocacy and especially the use of media to do advocacy. This has motivated me to do something for the persecuted church in Indonesia. Thank you so much.”
Rev. Nus Reimus (left), chairman of the FIECI, and Rev. Godfrey Yogarajah (2nd from left), Executive Director of the WEA RLC pray for the members of the newly formed Religious Liberty and Advocacy Forum
77 church leaders from across the country participated in the national training seminar in Indonesia.
Participants engaging in group discussions.