What Happens When a Muslim Comes to Faith in Indonesia?


Usually, an Indonesian Muslim truly comes to faith when they choose to get baptized. It means that they have really counted the cost of leaving Islam to follow Christ. Counting the cost is extremely significant because they are leaving their old ways and have considered the cost of following Christ. This means that they are aware of any persecution that might follow. Persecution when a Muslim comes to faith usually includes these things:

Being disowned or killed by their family members

In Islamic families when a family member becomes a Christian, it brings great shame and great sin upon the whole family. To restore honor, the family usually chooses to disassociate with the Christians in their family, hoping that by doing so they would feel the pressure to convert back to Islam. The other extreme would be to kill a family member that becomes a Christian. In Indonesia, family defines everything. Their identity is defined by the group they belong to. When one person does something that brings honor or shame, the entire family is affected.

Being ostracized from their community

In rural areas, it is very common to see a new believer being ostracized from their village. Many new believers living in close-knit communities are forced out of their villages. Muslim communities feel betrayed when one of their own follows a different belief system. Often, those who come to faith will be shamed by their community, lose their job or have difficulty finding a job. They may also face death threats, will be hunted down and killed to restore the honor of the community.

The Quran says multiples times that Muslims should kill infidels. (Qur 9:5, Qur. 9:73) The society they have always called home now thinks of them as traitors. To leave Islam is seen as the greatest sin a Muslim brings upon himself and his family. The prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” (Al-Bukhary 6922)

Being shamed into recanting

In honor-shame cultures like Indonesia, relationships and reputation matters. It takes years of working hard to gain respect and honor from their community. When someone living in a Muslim community chooses to follow Christ, he/she immediately loses their honor from the Muslim community and therefore has a bad reputation within that community. Word gets around fast and soon enough the whole community shames the new Christian. Family members and religious leaders (imam) will try to persuade the Christian to renounce their faith by any means possible.

Following Jesus definitely costs a former Muslim. The Bible says in Matthew 10:34–35, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.’” Pray for our Muslim background brothers and sisters to stand firm in their faith and be comforted by the Holy Spirit as they experience persecution. Praise God that more Muslims have comes to faith in Jesus in the past 15 years than the previous centuries combined!