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Orthodox Christian Missions

Interview: Indonesia Awaits the Word of God

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To complete the recent news from the ROCOR portion of the Indonesian Orthodox Church, this article is described as a discussion with Archimandrite Daniel (Byantoro). The article covers some of the needs and everyday reality of the Orthodox Church in Indonesia.

Source: ROCOR

If there is a Russian Orthodox Theological Institution in Moscow which can teach our parishioners and newly-ordained clergymen to preach Orthodoxy in the Indonesian language, we urge the establishment of a branch of such a seminary in Indonesia. Many Indonesians will come to learn and obtain a degree in theology. Our people want to be educated by the Russian Orthodox Church in the Orthodox faith. We do not have the capabilities to send our clergymen overseas to obtain a theological education in the Russian Church. Also, Indonesians who are not Orthodox are attracted by the prospect of a higher educated with a degree. Through their education in a Theological Institute they will come to the Orthodox faith.

Discrimination of Orthodox Christians in Indonesia

To hold a church service, Fr Daniel must gather signatures from at least 16 Muslim neighbors who are over the age of 19 years old. Fr Daniel is constantly denied permission, because citizens are against the presence of a Christian Church in their area. The same applies to other Christian denominations in the area. Some Orthodox and Catholic parishes in the area coordinate their activities and help each other in the face of the Muslim majority. Some places are tolerant and open but some areas of Indonesia are very hard-line Muslim. The Orthodox avoid those areas as it is dangerous for them to openly practice missionary activities. Fr Daniel says that from time to time organized violence occurs against Orthodox Christians, and it is hard to predict when and where. The Orthodox community in Indonesia lives in constant fear and discrimination. When Fr Daniel opened the Orthodox mission in Indonesia there were many problems with the Indonesian police. Since he joined the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the situation with the local administration has improved, but Fr Daniel states that “the police are not afraid of anything, they don’t care about anyone or anything.” Whenever His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion visits his flock in Indonesia, Fr Daniel is required to report to the authorities that he is receiving a foreign guest for religious purposes. The police escort the Metropolitan from the airport and keep a close eye on him.

International Aid from Orthodox Christian Churches

Fr Daniel travels to the US every month and conducts fundraising activities amongst Orthodox Russians, Greeks, Serbs and Antiochians. The bulk of the financial aid that the Indonesia Orthodox Church receives is from donors in the US. In 2007, through the efforts of His Grace Bishop Mark of Egorievsk, he set up a link between the Orthodox Community in Indonesia and the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriachate. As a result of these ties, Moscow supplements the wages of the Indonesian clergy, but Fr Daniel says that this is minimal and not enough. For Orthodox priests in Indonesia, it is very difficult to live. Being such a strict Islamic country, the Orthodox clergy cannot and will not be employed by anybody. Indonesia is the largest Islamic country in the world and the Orthodox clergy are heavily discriminated against.

Projects of the Indonesian Mission

The Orthodox Church in Indonesia needs financial help to continue printing Orthodox literature, buying land and building churches. Fr Daniel says “The possibilities for the growth of Orthodoxy in Indonesia are huge, for a small investment into missionary work; the returns are evident through the large number of Indonesians converting to the Orthodox Church.”

The Indonesian Orthodox People love the shepherd of their spiritual flock

“We all love Metropolitan Hilarion so much. He is so fatherly and humble and understanding. He helps us as much as he can in the way of financial needs, but with more help we can bring many more Indonesians to salvation in the Orthodox Church,” said Archimandrite Daniel.

Simeon Boikov, Moscow June 2009


Written by Stephen

August 4, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Posted in Asia, Indonesia, Interview, ROCOR

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