Over the past few days we have seen reports in the news of multiple suicide bomb attacks on churches and police headquarters in Surabaya, in the east of Indonesia’s most populous island Java. These attacks are especially shocking because they involve whole families, including young children, carrying bombs and blowing themselves up, apparently in the perverted belief that suicide and murder are pleasing to Allah in the struggle to establish a religiously pure Islamic state. In reality these are crimes of the most heinous sort.
Militants continue to fight to establish an Islamic fundamentalist ‘caliphate’ in a number of majority Muslim countries, including some democracies. To achieve their ends they intentionally attempt to persecute, drive out, enslave or kill non-Muslims and Muslims who aren’t strict enough or whose teachings they consider heretical. In our own region the Philippines has been battling an attempt to establish an Islamic state in its south and Islamists in Indonesia constantly push for greater Islamisation there. While there has also been a growth in Islamisation in Malaysia, we can perhaps take some encouragement from the recent election results which saw a peaceful transfer of power along democratic lines.
As Christians and people of peace, let us pray:
God our Father, God of love, peace, justice and mercy, we pray
- for all those injured and bereaved following the Surabaya attacks and for victims of similar attacks in other places
- that governing authorities will act wisely and justly to protect citizens from violence inspired by radical teachings of every sort and encourage diverse peoples to live side by side in peace
- that all those who seek to inspire others to acts of terror and genocide will recognise the evil into which they have fallen and experience a change of heart
- for the ability to recognise and to shield ourselves from teachings that demonise and dehumanise, and for effective ways to help people infected by them
- for greater commitment to influencing others’ religious and political beliefs in non-coercive ways
- and that faith in our Lord Jesus Christ may enable us reach out to others and meet hatred with love, violence with peace, despair with hope and deception with truth.
At the same time as we remember the people and countries nearest to us, we also remember and pray for the people of Palestine and of Israel in the midst of the ongoing situation and the tension which is rising once again.
- People are dying, Lord, and there seems no end in sight to the violence. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and for the unity of all people, including Palestinian and Israeli.
- Please show your grace to all who are suffering, to all who are fearful, and to all who believe violence is the best way to achieve security. You are our only true security, and we pray that all people would discover true justice and peace in you, and so live together in a truly lasting peace.
Bishop John Henderson
16th May 2018
Adelaide, South Australia