It was 7:30 on a Sunday morning when two brothers, ages sixteen and eighteen, rode their motorcycles to the Santa Maria Catholic Church in Surabaya, Indonesia, and detonated their explosives, killing themselves and six others in the blast.
Five minutes later, the boys’ father drove a car filled with explosives
into the Surabaya Center Pentecostal Church. The bombs detonated
outside the building, killing the driver and six churchgoers.
In another part of town, the boys’ mother and two sisters, ages nine and twelve, approached the Diponegoro Indonesian Christian Church with explosives strapped to their bodies. When a security guard stopped
them, they detonated their explosives, killing themselves and the security
guard. No church members were killed in the blast.
A single family attacked three separate churches within a span of ten minutes. Twelve Christians were killed, and more than forty men and
women were injured.
Shortly after the attacks, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the bombings. Investigators eventually learned that the family had spent time in Syria and was working with the group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an Indonesian militant group with close ties to ISIS.
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world. Although
attacks against Christians there have become less common in recent
years, radicalization is a growing problem. The bombings in Surabaya,
generally known as a peaceful community, marked the first incident of
church bombings in the city.
Instead of instilling fear in local Christians, however, the bombings have brought them together. “What they expect is that we will suspect each other, hate each other, and close ourselves so they can easily do more terror,” said one church leader. But the church members stood together, taking care of their wounded and even starting the rebuilding process. They will not be driven away by fear. “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” said the church leader, echoing the prayer of Jesus on the cross.
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
1 Corinthians 12:26
This story is an excerpt from Foxe: Voices of the Martyrs. You can get your own copy free with any donation to The Voice of the Martyrs.