The prominent leader of a Hindu temple who practiced "black magic" and was left bedridden for two years due to a serious illness embraced Christianity after Jesus miraculously healed him.
The director of an indigenous ministry in southern Indonesia shared with Christian Aid Mission how the Hindu leader believed his mysterious illness stemmed from his years of practicing black magic and asked for prayer.
However, even though the director prayed with the Hindu leader for two months that God would protect him from the affliction, nothing changed.
One day, the temple leader's wife called the ministry director and asked him to visit, saying the local shaman - a Hindu spiritual guide and practitioner - had stopped visiting him. In fact, the shaman had been coming but was mysteriously unable to find him, the director said.
"I came to visit again, and I just asked him to invite Jesus the Doctor, saying He is God who can make you healed," he said. "I said, 'I'll pray for you, but you must believe that He is God and will make you well.'"
He prayed for him and went home. The director returned the next day and found the temple leader well enough to be mixing cement to build a wall.
"When I came, he said, 'Hello Mr. Church,' because he doesn't know my name," he said. "He said, 'Please pray for me and let me know more about Jesus,' and afterward I gave him an MP3 player with the gospel. The next week I came and baptized him."
The former Hindu remains an influential community leader, he added, saying villagers have been coming to him and asking why he came to Jesus, thus expanding the gospel advance.
Hindus make up only 1.7 percent of the population of Indonesia, where 87.2 percent of the people are Muslim and less than 10 percent are Christian. Persecution watchdog Open Doors notes that Hindus in Indonesia have strict rules that punish those who leave the religion for another. Believers from a Hindu background have lost their families, their inheritance, and their place in the village for following Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, through evangelism, Bible and literature distribution, an orphanage and microenterprise projects, as well as a home for widows, the indigenous ministry directs its efforts to peoples who have not heard the gospel.
The ministry director shared how, recently, a 15-year old girl in a predominantly Hindu village where the group has a home for widows wondered why the director went there to offer them Bible studies. The widows are the only Christians in the area, and one of them had nearly died from practicing black magic before she came to Christ, he said.
"The girl wanted to understand why Jesus Christ was more powerful than black magic," he said. "One day as I was on my way to the widows' home, she followed me and asked if she could listen to what I was teaching the widows. She began to come regularly. After the third Bible study, she openly believed and professed Jesus Christ.
Open Doors USA notes that radical Islamic groups continue to pose serious challenges in Indonesia, especially when connected to international movements. Because of this, Indonesia is ranked 46th on Open Doors' World Watch List of 50 countries where believers face the most persecution.