The Testimony of Christian Children in the Midst of Violence
Caring for vulnerable children is one of Jubilee Campaign’s most closely held values and over the years God has given us many opportunities to exemplify His character by caring for the fatherless. One of the most enduring and rewarding opportunities is our work supporting the Maluku Orphans in Indonesia.
Until the end of the 20th Century, the Maluku Islands were an example of peaceful diversity, with Christians and Muslims intertwined in rich communities with traditions going back hundreds of years. Unfortunately, the global surge in Muslim extremism which would eventually hit the US on 9/11 reached Maluku near the end of the 1990s.
Funds and weapons flowed into Maluku from more extremist nations, along with several hundred extremists from outside Indonesia. An incident between a Christian bus driver and a Muslim student provided the spark necessary to set the region ablaze. Eventually the local Muslim and Christian communities united against the foreigners, but thousands died in the struggle.
In traditional communities such as those in Maluku, orphans are cared for by relatives or friends, back by the community as a whole. However, these traditional mechanisms were overwhelmed by the sheer number of orphans and some children simply had no one left to care for them.
Jubilee Campaign found donors to sponsor individual children, giving them food, clothing, and education. Most of the children in our Maluku Orphan program were cared for in the traditional way, and the assistance ensured that their caregivers were not overwhelmed as well as ensured that the orphaned children received an education which is not free in Indonesia. Generous donors gave for the construction of the Caleb House, named after a boy named Caleb Chandler who tragically passed away in Fairfax, Virginia. The Caleb House program was designed to provide counseling and special care to the most traumatized of the orphaned children in a safe, loving environment based on the Gospel.
Over the past decade we have been able to participate in the lives of hundreds of orphans. It has been a deeply rewarding experience to see the work of God in these young souls as they respond to His love.
Unfortunately, over the past months, we have seen an upsurge in violence both in Maluku and throughout the nation of Indonesia. Yet we are deeply encouraged by the response of the children at Caleb House and wanted to share the testimony of these children’s response to rising violence in the wake of this year’s 9/11. Please Enjoy.
On Sunday Sept 11th 2011 around 12pm, after the burial of a motor-cycle-taxi driver who was killed recently due to an accident in the Nona Mountain area in Ambon, stone throwing incidents happened between Muslim and Christian groups. The incidents happened in the Pule Tree Bridge area and in front of The Silo Church. These incidents continued escalating to the point that they attacked one another with stones, bombs, and firearms which caused house burning in the areas of Waringin and Talake. Some people were injured and some killed and plenty of roads were blocked.
As a result of the conflict, the children at Caleb House could not attend the Sunday service at GBI ROCK because in order to reach the church, they had to pass the conflict area. This time’s conflict has caused several Caleb House children to experience fear and sorrow again, since they heard the sounds of gun shots and bombs again. However, at that time, all the children gathered and prayed as they do it routinely. They believe that God would protect and save them.
The night after the house burning incident in Waringin area, people who lived in a nearby village called Ahuru evacuated for their safety to an area close to Caleb House, but because there were no place to stay, they could only sit down at a small church/religious hall next to Caleb House. That night, Caleb House children immediately prepared room in Caleb House and they spontaneously went to pick up the Ahuru people to stay at Caleb House for a few days, until the situation was stabilized. And by the time they were about to move back home to Ahuru village, the children escorted them back.
During the time of conflict, schools and offices were closed so the children studied at Caleb House, but they got scared because in the surrounding areas as people frequently tested out their homemade bombs so there were loud explosions. The power also went out many times. These made them more scared of the situation but they pray persistently for the town’s safety.
Even up to this moment, we and the children still continue on praying since we heard that the conflict might occur again. The children are very sure that the Lord Jesus will help and keep them safe.