‘You can’t bury your dead here’ – a cost of faith in Christ

The death of loved ones here in Australia and New Zealand presents us with the heartbreaking reality of grief and the consequences of our fall from God’s original intention for humankind.

But for all the heartache we suffer, we can usually count on the ability to bury our dead with dignity and the support of professionals who take care of all the unfathomable details associated with funerals.

This is not the case for our Christian brothers and sisters in many parts of Indonesia.

In 2019 we shared the story of Pastor Anjel, a pastor of the Protestant Christian Church of Mentawi (GKPM) serving in the Muslim majority city of Padang. In particular we highlighted the incredible hospitality he offered to a Muslim family who were waiting to transport the body of their 15-year-old daughter to the Mentawi Islands for burial. You may remember that the mosque would not allow them access due to ethnic differences and so, as Pastor Anjel welcomed them to use the sanctuary to sit with their daughter, they willingly received the pastoral care and witness of the Christians who spoke of the hope we have in Jesus.

In this same region, Christians have even more difficulties burying their deceased loved ones. The ‘public’ cemeteries are controlled by Muslim authorities and they do not allow the burial of anyone who bears the name of Christ.

This results in additional hardship at a time of deep grief for all Christian families. They are forced to travel significant distances into the bush, beyond the control of the authorities, to cemeteries set up by the churches. For some this means a four-hour boat trip with their loved one, back to the nearby islands. For others it means not being able to be present as their loved ones are laid to rest in a remote area they may struggle to visit in years ahead.

This reality is not spoken of with any bitterness or lament by our Indonesian brothers and sisters in Christ. It is simply one of the costs of being a Christian in that part of the world. It is a cost that is borne willingly as the blessed hope of the resurrection, made certain in the blood of Jesus, far outweighs these challenges.

‘We were buried therefore with Jesus by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his’ (Romans 6:4–5 – ESV).

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray

Read more stories about our partner churches in Indonesia at www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/indonesia/