By Michael Ireland
Senior Correspondent ASSIST Communications
SPICE ISLANDS, INDONESIA (March 21, 2000) -- An urgent plea for prayer for the Christians of Indonesia has come out of that nation from a recent visitor who has just returned from the Spice Islands.
The plea for prayer came in a letter that has been forwarded to ASSIST Communications by Aubrey Beauchamp of Hospital Christian Fellowship USA. She received the letter from one of her ministry's Prayer Partners who got the letter March 13 from a Christian returning from Indonesia. Due to the gravity of its contents, it is reprinted in its entirety.
"Back from the Maluku (Spice) Islands! I am alive!
Many died and many more will die! My heart is broken! The Christians in the Maluku Islands need and deserve all your support! Please pray for the remaining Christians there!" says the author.
"I'll give you a brief update on the situation in 'Halmahera Utara', the district of the The Malukus where Morotai, Tobelo and Galela fall in. What is happening there is nothing less than the 'Ethnic Cleansing' that happened in Kosovo! Except without any news covering it because it is a 'concentrated religious fight'. This is not true! This is an organized 'cleansing' of the Christians!!!
The author says: "When we arrived in the port of Tobelo, I was taken to the home of Mister Smith, a Christian who has spent most of his life in the remote islands of Indonesia. On the way to his house I was shocked to see so many burned down houses, stores and churches. Almost everyone I saw was wearing some sort of weapon. Mr. 'S' was surprised to see me. When I told him that I was on my way to Galela, he said that Galela [the port town, not the inland villages] is in Muslim hands now and that there are no more Christians left.
"I was introduced by him to a leader of the 'Evangelical Church of Halmahera Utara' who, together with the owner I met of the local Christian radio station, gave me most of the next information. The island of Morotai has been in Muslim hands for four days now. Only about 3000 Christians survived and are hiding in the mountains [or have taken refuge at an air force base]. The rest (thousands!) have been brutally killed.
"Muslims from neighboring islands have gone over there and without warning killed the Christian population! The army, which was supposed to protect the civilians, assisted the Muslims. The army in Indonesia is almost all Muslim. One Christian Captain was shot by his own man. A policeman who tried to protect a church and its pastor was approached by his own brother and shot by the same. The adults were beheaded and the children thrown in to the ocean with their legs tied! Many people tried to escape by boat, but an Indonesian navy vessel sunk the ship. Very few people made it to Tobelo alive and brought this news.
"The reason why there is no news (or 'false' news) is because there are people in the Indonesian government who want to free Indonesia from the lesser people. Muslims see the Christians as dogs. (They eat dog over here.)
"Tobelo was attacked about a month ago. It is a town where the Christian and Muslims had lived together for many years. The attack had been well organized by the Muslims. In one day many Christian houses and some of the churches were put to fire. Christians were towed through town behind motorcycles. It took the Christian population two days before they woke up out of their shock. Then the Christians started their furious defense. One thousand Muslims were killed and only 30 Christians. Many Muslims fled to army barracks close to Galela.
"[The inland villages of Galela have repelled three Muslim attacks thus far.] The Muslims have called for a holy war (Jihad) against all the remaining Christians on Halmahera on the 16th of March! (Indonesia time, of course.) This is being broadcast on the government radio station! Three boatloads of Muslim warriors have already arrived from Ternate and Tidore. Many will come from Morotai and while I was in Tobelo two army trucks with militaries drove through town to Galela. The army has also provided some weapons for the Muslims and will back them up. Two navy ships are said to be scheduled to arrive in the harbor of Tobelo in the morning of the 16th. This will not be a small operation! [We could not clarify whether this is to bring relief aid and supplies and to receive refugees, or something less honorable.]
The writer pleads: "Without the help of our God (Jesus Christ) and your prayers, all the people I have spoken of (and their families) will be dead in three or four days!!! They are my brothers and sisters. We are related! And it will not stop there! Please pray! Ask your church, your Pastor, your Bible study to pray. PRAY! I am calling for THREE DAYS of FASTING AND PRAYER. March 15 (preparation) 16 (the battle) and 17 (the aftermath.)
The letter is signed: "In His Love, 'A'."