When guessing which country in the world has the largest population of Muslims, most people probably wouldn’t think of Indonesia in Southeast Asia, where about 85% of the nation’s 270 million citizens follow the teachings of Islam.
Although the majority of the country is Sunni Muslim, Indonesia’s founders admired diversity, so the country does not proclaim itself an Islamic State. This pride in diversity and a certain amount of tolerance provided just the opening Imelda Aritonang, LHF’s coordinator for Indonesian translations, was looking for.
“Schools in Indonesia are mostly state schools, built by the government,” Imelda explained. Religion is part of the curriculum, and Christians are often allowed to teach their own faith.
“The government provides textbooks for every subject, but the amount is very limited,” she continued. “And unfortunately, religious books besides those that are Islamic are very hard to obtain. I often encounter complaints from Christian religious teachers who find it difficult to get high quality, Biblical teaching materials.”
LHF has stepped in to provide thousands of children’s Bible storybooks, catechisms and catechism workbooks in the Bahasa language, which are being distributed to several public and private schools throughout the country. But because of the sheer size of the Indonesian population, many thousands more are needed.
“Praise the Lord, the books we have shared receive positive reviews from everyone who reads them,” Imelda said. “The children love to see books with images full of color. The teachers also give a good response because they know and believe that the lessons in LHF’s books are based on the Bible and are trustworthy.
“As followers of Christ, we can share the fruits of the Spirit with our neighbors, because we have received the most love first, namely the love of Christ on the cross,” she encouraged. “Our Christian faith teaches love and forgiveness, while Islam spreads fear and the threat of the torments of hell.”