By ICC’s Indonesia Correspondent
(International Christian Concern) – On December 8, 2013, seven churches in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia were forced to close by government officials. For years, these churches operated without disturbance or objection, until radical Islamic groups gained influence in the government operations of the region.
Pastor Oferlin Hia’s church was one of the seven closed churches.
“The government questioned our legal standing as they said we do not have license to operate as a church,” he told International Christian Concern (ICC). “That is not true because nationally we have license and legal standing in the government.”
One church in particular experienced a terrorizing day on December 8, as radical mobs surrounded the house church yelling curses and threatening to kill the young family housed inside.
Pastor Mangupal explained what happened when hundreds of Muslims besieged his home.
“They were angry [and] carrying sticks, machetes, stones and shouting, ‘Burn the house! Kill them!’” he recalled. “It was really, humanly speaking, the scariest moment in our [lives]. My children were crying; my wife was shivering knowing what could happen next.”
The family prayed to God for protection, knowing that there was nothing they could do to stop the raging mob outside. God answered their prayers with a phone call from a neighbor promising that help was on its way. Shortly after, police and army officials arrived to disperse the mob.
Pastor Mangupal founded his church in 2004 after experiencing a radical transformation in his life. Before coming to faith, Mangupal led a life of drugs and crime. It was while he was serving a multi-year prison sentence that the Lord touched his life. After being released from prison, he went on to Bible college and planted his church in Ciranjang shortly after. He operated the church from his home until 2013 on the day of the incident.
“The following day, another six pastors and I were summoned by the government,” Pastor Mangupal told ICC.
The authorities informed all seven pastors that their church operations were to cease.
“At first we all protested, questioning the government’s reason on this decision, but finally we could not do anything else but oblige to the government decision,” Mangupal explained. “We knew [the government] was pressure[d] by the radical Islamic group called GARIS.”
Since December 2013, Mangupal’s church has moved from place to place. The congregation has worshiped in restaurants and members’ houses. It was a trying time for the small group. All the while, they prayed for continued church growth, which they saw, and an official reopening of their beloved congregation…which eventually they also saw.
One miraculous day, the Indonesian government granted licensure to Pastor Mangupal’s church. Not only were they allowed to reopen, but they were also given permission to build a new church building according to the blueprints that the government set out for them.
When he heard the news in late 2015 Pastor Mangupal was beside himself.
“Our God never sleeps and slumbers,” He exclaimed, “He heard our cry and prayer! Thank you Lord.”
Pastor Mangupal, after enduring so much with his flock, would finally have a true church building. The licensure was a miracle, but God had more in store for the faithful.
Financially, the church did not have the means to fully renovate and rebuild their gathering place. As one body, the church prayed and fasted. It was at this time that ICC heard of the project. Thankfully, we were able to provide some funding for this “miracle building project.”
“It is a miracle building project because my life [has] changed with a great miracle. Getting the church’s license after being closed down was a miracle,” Pastor Mangupal continued. “And getting help from ICC was indeed a miracle too.”
When asked about the miracle of the licensure, Pastor Mangupal explained that the persistence, faith, and good works of his church were rewarded with good favor, both from the Lord and the community in which they live.
“[We have been] involved in the community building of our vigilance, hence when our church was closed down by the government due to the pressure from the radical Muslim group, our neighborhood and community were the one[s] that helped us to talk to the government,” he told ICC.
Be encouraged by this good news of Pastor Mangupal’s church in Indonesia. The Lord is busy at work changing the hearts and laws of the nation. But remember to also pray. Many churches remain closed and rootless. Pray for another miracle from the Lord. He provided for Pastor Mangupal. May he provide for the many nameless pastors still faithfully leading their flocks in the midst of great persecution.
Source: international Christian Concern