We recently shared the tragic story of an attack on a village called Kalimago, Napu, Central Sulawesi. It took place on 11 May 2021, and four Christians were murdered by members of the extremist group MIT (Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen). Upon hearing the news, local Open Doors partner Brother Ari (name changed) and his team went to visit the families of those who’d been killed, and other church members. Ari wrote this report.
I spoke with the Christian community in Napu, and they are suffering and in a constant state of fear. The names of those who were killed are Marten Solon, Simson Susa, Paulus Papa, and Lukas Lese.
The atrocity happened while the four were doing their everyday jobs, working in their field. The four families of these victims are now left with immense grief and pain. All of them are believers.
Marten Solon’s daughter told me how she is extremely devastated by the death of her father. “I still could not accept it. Poor him”, said Dewi, sobbing. Her mother and siblings are still in deep grief, and they can’t seem to find words to express their emotions.
“This is traumatic for the family,” Risna told me. He is a local pastor of Toraja Church, which the Solon family goes to. “They probably long to convey something, however their mouth is still locked. One of the children is still having a hard time to interact with people.”
"As a believer, I really expect prayer support from all Christ’s followers" Paulus, whose brother-in-law was killed
The same sadness also captures the family of Paulus Papa. “I am grieving. I was the one who found the body. I am very sad, but I surrender everything to God,” says Paulus Patonang, Paulus Papa’s brother-in-law.
When I asked what his needs are after the tragedy, he said, “As a believer, I really expect prayer support from all Christ’s followers. My second need is I hope the government will deal with these irresponsible people as soon as possible.”
The wider community are also suffering financially as, because of the threat of terrorists, they can’t tend their crops. “We here in Napu need to make a living,” says Iswadi, the pastor of a local church. “And now the people are forbidden to go to their field for the sake of security – to protect ourselves, protect the community. They don’t know where else they can earn a living.” This is particularly hard as it comes during harvest time.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Parman (name changed), a man who witnessed the attack. He had seen one of the terrorists on his way to the field, and ran away. It wasn’t the first time they’d met.
“In 2020, I met them (the terrorist group),” Parman told me. “There were still 13 of them. At that time, they said to me, ‘When we meet again, we will ask you to join our group … you will be safer because you’ll make a living with us.’ That’s why, when I saw them the other day, when I saw Qatar’s face [one of the terrorists], I immediately ran.”
Parman is still traumatised from his experience, and cried as he told me about the incident. “That day, as I was running for about three kilometres, I prayed to God, ‘God please help me. Deliver me from those men.’ Praise God, today I am still living to see my family in Kalimago.”
On his way back to the village, Parman met with Marten and Simson, and told them to run away because there were terrorists nearby; however, they refused to run thinking that those men were soldiers and not terrorists. Marten and Simson were found dead three hours later in front of their hut.
Seeing how fearful and traumatised Parman was, I prayed with him. I prayed for protection and for God’s peace to reign in his heart.
It took me many hours to arrive in Napu to meet with Parman and the families of the victims, but it was worth it to see how glad they are to know that Christians around the world are praying for them.
It is only by God’s strength and protection that I was able to see these men and women face-to-face and to be with them, listening to their stories, their sorrow and their hopes after what happened to their loved ones. They couldn’t say much because of their grief, but they were grateful for the care shown by the believers all around the world.
"In this situation, we are not fighting alone, we got help from you" Pastor Iswadi
Pastor Iswadi wants to thank the global believers for helping them in this time of difficulty and caring for them: “Thank you so much for your support for us. In this situation, we are not fighting alone, we got help from you. We do experience the presence of Open Doors in this place, side by side with us, to feel the burden we feel. So, thank you. May God bless you for what you have given us: your energy, your thought, financial help, and more.”
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