The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. John 1:9-10
Indonesian and Indian Christians (2000, 2007)
While Christmas is a time of celebration for Christians in the West, for believers in other parts of the world it can signal danger and fear as their hostile neighbours step up persecution against them. This is exactly what happened on Christmas Eve 2000 when a series of around 20 coordinated blasts hit churches across cities in Indonesia; 19 Christians were killed and 120 were injured. Most of the bombs were planted in cars but some were sent as presents to church leaders. The terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, linked to al-Qaeda, carried out the attacks. Abu Bakar Baasyir, a leader of this group, was eventually tried and found guilty of involvement in the bombing campaign.
On 24 and 25 December 2007, Indian Christians were targeted by Hindu extremists, who launched a spate of violent but meticulously planned attacks in Kanhdamal District, Orissa State. Scores of churches were burnt to the ground, as well as hundreds of Christian homes. At least nine Christians were killed with many more injured as the attackers, who were armed with guns, knives, spears, home-made bombs and other weapons, rampaged through the area. They shouted slogans including: “Only Hindus to stay here – no Christians to stay here”, “Christians must become Hindu or die” and “Kill Christians”. The onslaught was followed by even more extensive violence and brutality between August and October 2008 (see August 25).
Heavenly Father, we pray that Your people throughout the world will be able to celebrate the birth of Your Son, our Saviour, in peace and freedom this Christmas. Protect them from those who would seek to harm them and give them hope for the year ahead. May their joy in Christ be a witness to all around them. Amen.