Dear prayer partners,

In just over a week, Indonesia – the world’s fourth-most populous country – has been hit by multiple disasters. On Sunday 17 January, massive flooding became the latest in a string of disasters to impact the South-East Asian nation. Thousands of people were evacuated, but at least 15 died over the weekend in flooding on Indonesia’s Borneo island. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said that the floods were brought on by torrential rains causing flooding as high as three metres. The flooding affected 10 districts and cities in South Kalimantan province on Borneo island. In recent days, monsoon rains and high tides have caused landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia.

On Friday 15 January, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck the western coast of Sulawesi island. At least 81 people have been confirmed dead and thousands have been left homeless. The torrential rains hampered the search for survivors who may still be buried under collapsed buildings and rubble. Six tremblors of magnitude 2.9 and above were recorded in the 12 hours prior to the major quake which struck at 2:28 am local time. Nine aftershocks were recorded in the hours that followed.

The week of disasters began on Saturday 9 January, when a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the Java Sea killing all 62 people on board. The plane lost contact with air traffic control minutes after take-off from Jakarta during heavy rain. On Saturday 16 January, a team from the US National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Indonesia’s capital to join the investigation into the crash.

Added to the recent disasters, the country’s COVID-19 cases are also on the increase. According to Worldometer, Indonesia’s total coronavirus cases currently sits at 907,929, with 25,987 deaths and 736,460 recoveries (as of 18/01/21). For the first two weeks of 2021, Indonesia closed borders to all foreign travellers. Hospitals in Java are on the verge of collapse with some patients receiving treatment in chairs in the hallways instead of beds. Some families of patients drive from hospital to hospital trying to find hospitals that will accept them. Epidemiologist Henry Surendra of the Eijkman-Oxford Clinical Research Unit said that infections are “uncontrolled.” In December 2020, the Indonesian cabinet reshuffled, and President Joko Widodo named Budi Gunadi Sadikin (who has a degree in nuclear physics), as health minister. Indonesia began a massive free COVID-19 vaccination roll-out to stop the spread of the virus and to get the economy up and running again. On Wednesday 13 January, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo received the first dose of the vaccination, becoming the first person in the country to be vaccinated. 

According to Joshua Project, of Indonesia’s 272 million people, 82.1% profess Islam as the “one true religion”, while those who profess Christianity is currently estimated at 12.7%.  According to Open Doors, the level of persecution one faces in Indonesia depends on the region where one lives. There are certain ‘hot spots’ – like West Java or Aceh, where extremist Islamic groups are strong and influence their society and regional politics. In March 2020, 15 Indonesians filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court arguing that the government’s shutting of thousands of houses of worship was being done under a discriminatory law. Since then, President Joko Widodo has briefly mentioned the difficulties believers of minority religions face when they want to set up a new place of worship.

Please join with us in praying for Indonesia during these very difficult times.

“Prayer is not your last resort when all else fails – it is to be your first line of defence in times of trouble.” (Lorraine Marie Varela)





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