Christian Concerned about Indonesia's First Presidential Elections

( [email protected] ) Sep 09, 2004 04:35 PM EDT

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation and the largest Muslim country, with 220 million people, will hold its first ever direct Presidential Elections on September 20, 2004.

The main concern of church leaders is to make sure that the Christian minority will be protected by the next president. They are asking candidates to promise an end to discrimination against minority groups in the world's most populous Muslim country.

As a minority, Christians have purposely kept a low profile, but in many regions of the less populated 'outer islands' Christians constitute a majority, while at the national level they belong to the country's elite, occupying leading positions in important domains as the state bureaucracy, the army, the corporate sector, the universities and the multimedia.

However, the possible change to Indonesia are not expected to have an effect on Christian schools. Debbie Wittig, teacher of the school in East Java, explains that Indonesia's turmoil has had its impact. "I suppose because people think Indonesia is a dangerous country, they are afraid to go there as missionaries, and we desperately need more teachers, and a principal for the next school year."

Wittig says because their student body is international, their school does not face the same challenges from militant Muslims that an Indonesian school might. But still prayers are needed in order to extend the staff as far as overt evangelism.

Indonesia consists of 82.9% Muslims, 9.3% Protestant (4.4% are considered evangelical); 3.1% Catholic and 1.9% Hindu.