Open Doors - October 2010 - Right to Believe Campaign 2
How your signature could help protect religious liberty
Like all Indonesian citizens, Andi* must have two required national identity cards for himself and his family, both of them recording his religion.
Although no law prohibits an Indonesian from changing his religion, as a Muslim born in West Java, Andi learned that he could lose many privileges and face violent opposition by doing so.
Andi had become wealthy through practising witchcraft, but happiness was elusive, and he struggled with an emptiness his money could not fill. Then his wife and children fell seriously ill, and he turned to two Christians he had recently met and asked them to pray to Jesus.
His family were miraculously healed, and Andi put his faith in Jesus; his whole family were baptised. He abandoned witchcraft, destroying his amulets and other paraphernalia. But he also lost the income from these occult practices.
Although Andi’s new identity as a follower of Christ meant trouble for him, he held fast to his faith. His in-laws were convinced that it was his belief in Christianity that had made him poor. And officially, as far as his identity cards were concerned, he was still a Muslim.
Andi’s changed life did not go unnoticed by his neighbours, who began to suspect he had left Islam. So when a group of villagers confronted him at the end of last year, Andi confirmed that he had become a Christian.
Incensed, the group demanded he surrender his residence card declaring him a Muslim, and dragged him to the police station on false charges of robbery. When he was released, an official ruled that Andi must keep his Muslim identity.
A month later, Andi applied to change his identity cards to show that he and his family were Christians. Local Islamic leaders organised a mob led by the village chief to confront him, demanding that Andi surrender his identity cards to them as ‘false documents’.
But by law, Andi could not even leave the village without these cards. So with a lawyer’s help, Andi received new Christian ID cards. But enraged villagers stoned his home, forcing Andi and his traumatised family to flee the village.
Although Andi lost his previous job as an electrician, fellow-Christians helped him start a small business in his new setting, where he remains undaunted in sharing his faith in Christ with his clients.
“I live my life with Jesus now, and I will never regret my choice to follow him,” Andi says.
This summer, at Christian events across the UK and Ireland, followers of Jesus were lining up to use a freedom that Andi can scarcely imagine – signing a petition for religious liberty.
The initial response to Open Doors’ Right to Believe campaign has been staggering. In one month around 25,000 Christians have urged the United Nations to reject the Defamation of Religions Resolution, which in effect allows governments to punish those who express ‘unacceptable’ religious views and thus makes persecution legal.
It’s one way that we can strengthen believers like Andi. It reinforces informed and committed prayer, and backs up the donations that help meet desperate needs for material and spiritual support.
“One petition signature won’t change the world,” says Eddie Lyle of Open Doors. “But when together we express our solidarity with our brothers and sisters, and call out to God in prayer, anything is possible.
“We are free to worship, free to own a Bible, even free to sign a petition,” he adds. “In too many countries too many Christians spend too much time in police stations, court rooms and prisons because they have chosen to follow Christ. That’s why we need to be on our knees in prayer and on our feet in action.”
*name changed for security reasons
IT’S NOT TOO LATE – YOU CAN HELP
SIGN THE PETITION now and encourage others to sign it. Your signature will join thousands of others from across the world. Go to www.opendoorsuk.org/inspiremag
And click here to download a petition form you can use at your church
PRAY for those who do not have the right to believe, and pray that the Resolution will be defeated. Encourage your church to join in the International Day of Prayer on 7 November.
MAKE A GIFT to support those who do not have the right to believe in freedom and without fear.
For more information and resources visit www.opendoorsuk.org/rtb
Say YES to religious liberty, NO to the Defamation of Religions Resolution.