Little Church Under The Stars
Ordinary Day in Indonesia
stepped alone into the ruins of the church.
She stared at the night sky, she stared at the stars.
young girl stood alone in the ruins of the church, a church under the
stars. The scenes of the day
before yesterday was flashing in her mind.
went through her bedroom window as Lydia open her eyes.
"What day is it today?"
Her first phrase of the day. She
looked at the calendar hanging on the wall.
"Friday, eh? What
an ordinary day!" She
she graduated from high school few months ago, she had many leisure times.
She had a planned to continue her study, but her parents told her
she’d better stay in the town because they couldn’t afford the tuition
fee. They even hoped she
would marry a man as soon as possible.
parents had a little shop selling daily necessities. Sometimes she helped them keep the shop, but she found she
wasn’t accustomed to be a shopgirl.
Actually, she dreamed of living in a big town, like Surabaya,
Bandung, or even Jakarta. But
her parents will disapprove of such plan.
Thus, she passed boring days living in her small town.
that moment, she was involved with a young man named Beni.
Actually, she had known him for years, as they attended the same
school. But she had no
courage to tell her parents about their affair, as Beni was a notorious
man, for his disability to watch his languages.
People said he had a sharp tongue, but Lydia was impressed with his
frankness. No wonder they
always dated behind her parents’ backs.
day, she made up her mind to seek a new atmosphere, so after having lunch
and dressing, she slipped away from her house.
She had settled on her destination: a simple church situated before
the hill, not so far from her dwelling.
Naturally, it is a small town; you can reach every place in a few
knocked the front door and an old man opened the door after peeking first.
Glad to meet you!" Rev.
Ishak shook her hand. "How
are you doing?"
fine, Sir!" Lydia wore a
smile. "But I have a
question to ask…"
Let’s come in and sit down!"
stepped into the church. Two
girls were near the pulpit. The
fat girl was playing an electric organ, whereas the thin one seriously
examined manuscript sheets.
has many progress!" Lydia
commented the organist. "And
Rini is gloomy, as always!"
are preparing themselves for this Sunday service!"
want to ask you something about God!"
Ishak raised his brows. "I
don’t know what you mean, Lydia. But
I promise you to answer yours at my best."
have been told that God is omnipresent. If so, why we should attend
services in churches?"
Ishak grinned. "It’s
not for the sake of God, but for us, ourselves.
Just two opposite ways those become our choice:
The way that leads us to God or the way into the darkness.
It’s our free choice. Nobody
can force you to attend the services, but please use the analogy: how can
we expect someone to care about us, if we never care about him?"
works for other religions?"
Ishak knitted his brows. "Once
again, every human was bestowed with free will. He can determine his own fate.
Now, it is up to him to step his own way. I think you should strengthen your faith.
Don’t let such confusion ruins your life. Our Lord has shown us
the way; just follow it and you will be saved!"
wanted to ask further, but Rini went up to them. "There’s a call for you, Mr. Ishak!"
the evangelist left, Lydia greeted Rini.
you doing recently?"
shrugged. "Not so good,
I think. We have problems
with our muslim neighbors. Many
of them bluntly refused our activities.
They have forced local administrators to rush us into banning this
church. It started to happen mainly after a few of them converted to
shook her head. "So,
there is no faith freedom here, right?"
there is. Practically, of course all of us should understand it."
always happens when people worship religions!" A voice came from behind them. A young man was standing
Lydia was surprised. "It's
a long time since your last appearance in our church."
young man chortled. "There
is no faith freedom here, right?"
you are a Christian by birth, like us. None, even the muslims, will have
objections to see you attending our services."
mean; can we freely change our faith or have no faith?"
up to you to follow God or not! In John 14:6, Jesus has said, 'I am the
way, the truth, and the life: no man come unto the Father, but by
me.'" Rini looked at him
unpleasantly. "We should
remember the last judgement!" She
you quarrel!" Lydia
tried to act as a mediator. "We
were facing a big problem. Beni,
do you know that our existence was questioned?"
sighed. "I even heard
the worse thing; that people had a plan to shut your services… by
and Rini were so startled that they could say nothing for a moment.
face turned pale. "When
they will execute their scheme?"
don't know!" Again, Beni
sighed. "They can do it
anytime they wish."
he grinned to Rini. "Let's
hope God will protect us! Remember forever Matthew 28:20; it reads: '
…and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.'"
gently tapped Rini's shoulder. "It
won't happen for God always takes care of His children, okay?"
tried to smile. "Yes, of course!
God won't let it happen! Never!
Now I must prepare sermon manuscripts for this Sunday
turned to Lydia. "I have
something to talk about just with you… Let’s go out!"
went along the narrow streets to a little hill behind the church.
After a short time, they had been on its peak.
There, they could witness the view of the town.
They sat under the shade of a big tree.
have a plan to move to Jakarta! Perhaps
next week, I will be there." The
young man said.
the distance, they could hear mosques airing the calls for Friday prayer.
Are you tired of living here?
Are you bored with…me?"
Lydia bowed her head.
worry! I’m just looking
forward to having a better life in Jakarta! If I succeed in my job, I will
propose to you and we’ll live together there!"
Beni squeezed gently her soft hands.
put on a big smile. "All
right! I understand that you wish to make a whole new life. I can know
that this little town bored you for years, but when will you come
don't know for sure! Perhaps
you be in constant touch with me?"
phone you... every night... if needed!"
pointed his forefinger on her lips. "Don’t
you try not to believe me!"
is no faith freedom here, right?"
tease me like that!" Beni
chuckled. "It’s really
you often failed to keep your promise!"
almost I forget! I want to
tell you my secret!" Beni
looked at Lydia. "I’ve read The Koran!"
have read the holy book of muslims!"
Beni stared at the sky.
read theirs?" Lydia
didn’t believe what she heard.
wrong?" Beni responded.
think you would like to convert to Islam!"
Islam is not fit in my freedom and equality spirit!"
Beni shook his head. "
It is very discriminative towards mankind.
In Q 5: 51, it reads: ‘O you who believe! Take not the Jews and
the Christians as awliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers, etc), they are
but awliya’ to one another…’"
still don’t understand why muslims are so resentful of us.
We never provoke or disturb them!"
a church will be regarded as an oppression to them!"
Beni explained. "In Q 8: 39, it reads: ‘And fight them on until there
is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in
Allah altogether and everywhere.’ Now
you understand why they are so enthusiastic to question the presence of
they were stunned. From the
distance, they could see many people walking down the street… moving
toward the church.
feeling is not so good about it!"
Lydia murmured. "I
have to know what really happen there!"
It’s dangerous!" Beni
warned her. "We’d better stay here and see what they are up
Mr. Ishak and my friends are still there!"
Lydia ran down the hill.
Lydia approached there, she saw hundreds of people, all were unknown to
her, gathered around the churchyard.
They encircled the building, pelting stones and bricks to its doors
girl could hear the people yelled, "Allohu Akbar!
Allohu Akbar! Long live Islam!"
amongst them shouted, " Let’s roast the Christian pigs! Let’s
burn the church!"
the others replied by chanting: "Burn it down! Burn it down!"
men began to splash kerosene around the church. Some lit the torch, throwing them into the building.
In a short time, the little church was ablaze.
few police were there, but they did nothing, just watched the scene.
tried to rush into the people, but a police officer grabbed her hand.
no! Don't burn our
hysterically screamed at them.
it seemed that none of the people was listening.
the officer tightened his grip. "Don't
go there, Miss! They can take
my friends are in there! We can't let them burned alive!"
can we do! Now, we have to
get it out of here!" And
the police officer dragged her away from the flaming church.
Lydia’s eyes filled with tears, she still could saw someone coming up to
them. It’s Beni.
As the police released her, she rushed into him, embraced him.
could feel his hands caressed her hair.
know someday it would be happen!"
His voice trembled. "It
always happens when people worship religions.
Religions should be for people, not people for religions!"
Lidya was too distraught and shocked to listen to him.
She kept on sobbing, until …
Beni! Praise to The Lord! Be
grateful that all of us survived!"
turned around. She hardly
believed what she was seeing. Rev.
Ishak, accompanied by Rini and Tina, came up to them.
to His protection, we could escape the fire through the back door!"
Rev. Ishak explained.
could do nothing but watch the church burn, while the people joyfully
danced around the great bonfire.
looked depressed. "I
must leave tomorrow! I
stars had started to appear in the evening sky. The remains of the church building still stood there.
stepped alone into the ruins. She
stared at the sky. She felt lonely. Beni
had gone yesterday and she was not sure if he would keep his words.
Rev. Ishak moved to another town and she didn’t know whether the
church would be permitted to exist again or not.
This night she was supposed to attend the church.
is love." She murmured. "Why people should hate each other in
stretched her hands, trying to feel the vastness of the universe.
is so great." She murmured again. "Why should we contain Him in
a certain religion? Should
God be monopolized?"
bowed, scooped up ash in the floor with her soft hands, and threw it to
the sake of faith freedom!" Her
voice trembled in the dark night.
the young girl found herself standing alone in the ruins of the church, a
church under the stars.