Evangelist Remains Faithful Amidst Persecution in Indonesia Prison

An Indonesian Christian has been handed a 4-and-a-half year prison sentence for defaming Islam and its Prophet Muhammad.

|TOP|Open Doors UK, a ministry working as a voice for the persecuted Church, has reported that Abraham ’Abe‘ Bentar, 55, has no choice but to adjust to his new life behind bars. Sentenced by the local court on 17 May for defaming Islam and its ‘prophet’ Muhammad, the evangelist now spends his days in Tasikmalaya prison in West Java province.

Although gradually recovering from the stroke that impaired his right arm, Abraham still struggles with high blood pressure and diabetes. Because of the medicines and food brought by his wife Waty, aged 36, and a local church, he manages well. Visits from his wife are difficult though because the only way she can visit him is by making a long and costly overnight bus journey.

The evangelist says he is battling discouragement and fear. When Open Doors visited him, it was said that it took a while before he recognised us and agreed to meet with us because he has received several unwanted ‘visitors’ who have been allowed to beat him.

"I have been abused many times. I have lost six teeth because of that," Abraham explained. Amongst those who abused him were Muslim 'visitors' attempting to reconvert Abraham to his former Islamic beliefs.

In a prison of almost 400 inmates, Abraham shares a cell with four others. However, he finds no difficulty in having personal quiet time and worship sessions, tell Open Doors.

|AD|“Everyday, I wake up at 3:00am to pray and sing praises. I stop at 4:00am to give my cellmates a turn to pray,” he explained.

He is free to fellowship with four other Christian prisoners on Sundays. Although he can give a sermon, he is prohibited from mentioning ‘Jesus Christ’. “I have to say ‘God’ instead,” he reports.

Other prisoners can hear the worship songs and seem to enjoy the melody, Abraham said, although they do not really understand what the songs are about.

Abraham testified, “[This is] nothing compared to what Paul and Jesus Christ went through.”

With this heart he has been able to reveal forgiveness to the ones who are persecuting him despite challenges in adjusting to life behind bars.

Following Abraham’s confession to the charges at his second hearing, the judges found him guilty and sentenced him as charged.

“But I am not guilty as charged. I was forced to confess under great pressure,” he said. “Up to now, I can’t stop thinking about what I have done. Other Christians must think I deserve to be jailed.”

The day before the hearing, several Muslim fanatics visited him in the prison. They interrogated him, saying, “Tell me, what have you gained by becoming a Christian?” Abraham replied, “Jesus Christ has been blessing me abundantly.”

A blow landed on Abraham’s head. When asked to recite the shahada (the Islamic faith declaration), Abraham refused. He received another blow, report Open Doors.

Meanwhile, Open Doors has been assisting Abraham’s family by paying the rent on their house in Central Java.

Eddie Lyle, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland commented, “It is so inspiring to hear of believers like Abraham who stay strong in their faith despite severe abuse and mistreatment. However, Abraham and his family still desperately need our support, letters and prayer. We urge Christians to participate in our prayer and letter-writing campaign for him and to also remember, if possible, many other imprisoned Christians and their families.”

For more information on Open Doors UK, or about this case, please visit: www.opendoorsuk.org.uk