JAKARTA, Indonesia (FR) – When his son became a Christian, Dr. Harris Siregar chased him out of his house with a knife and told him to never return. Disowned, Eriel Siregar moved to another island to finish high school. While in Java, he became a Christian and a member of the Maranatha Christian Church. A few years earlier, his sister Wanti had been similarly disowned by her father when she had became a Christian.
A well-known Muslim medical doctor and physiology professor, Dr. Siregar finally disowned all of his children because of their new-found religious beliefs. Eventually, Wanti married the pastor of the Maranatha Church in the capital city of Jakarta, and Eriel became a leader in the church in Yogyakarta. However, after years of prayer, Dr. Siregar has made a startling turn-around. He recently joined his children in full-time ministry by becoming the pastor of a church in Ujung Pandang, on the island of Sulawesi.
Today, the testimony of a devout Muslim being converted to Christianity is stirring the island. Muslim officials tried to talk the 42-year-old doctor out of his faith, and even contacted an Egyptian scholar in hopes of dissuading him. Instead of responding to the Muslim officials’ efforts, Dr. Siregar has been aggressively sharing the gospel with his medical students.
“After he had been saved for two weeks, he had introduced 17 people to Christ and had baptized them,” said Eric Dooley, pastor of the Maranatha Church in Jakarta. “When he gave his testimony to the Christian Medical Society, which normally attracts 10 people, 500 showed up to hear it.”
Dr. Siregar also organized an outreach in Ujung Pandang and started a church. “Western missionaries have showed up at the meetings to hear his testimony,” said Pastor Dooley. “So far this is the closest thing I’ve seen to a genuine revival. Most of the people in Dr. Siregar’s church are medical students.”
Revival in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim nation, is sweeping among the youth. In Bandung, a city three hours east of Jakarta, many full-time ministers have been trained and sent out to the other islands of Indonesia since the Maranatha Church started in 1987. Several Muslim students and professors have been converted to Christianity.
“My religious background was Islam mixed with Kong Hu Cu,” said Linda Heryani, a student. “But I came under the Lordship of Jesus Christ after I heard the verse John 3:3 at a meeting. I knew I was a most sinful person, and couldn’t enter the kingdom of God. The only way to gain eternal life was to repent and confess my sins and make Jesus Lord of my life forever.”
Davy Hermanus, a lecturer with the electronics department at the Bandung Institute of Technology, said he has realized the importance of having a faith vision for his own life purpose. “That was my weakness as a Christian for so many years: going along without any vision. Now I have a vision, and it is to reach the campus and build a glorious church there, until the second coming of Jesus.”
Although Bandung is a small city, it is densely populated with two million people and is the home of many of Indonesia’s top universities and private schools. “We believe that God has brought students from all over Indonesia to study here in Bandung for one purpose only, and that is to make Bandung a strategic training center to send out many full-time workers into God’s service,” said Gerrit Hansen, pastor of the Bandung church.