Christian's Concerns for Indonesia's First Presidential Elections

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 20th September 2004.

The main concern of church leaders is to make sure that the Christian minority will be protected from 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 would not faze the Christian schools. An international Christian school was founded by OMS International, which is now an extended mission cooperative. 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.