Indonesians wage peace in dialogue with MuslimsBy J. Showalter Eastern Mennonite Missions
SOLO, Indonesia — Mennonite witness to the way of Jesus has forged surprising new friendships in a land once fraught with tensions and violence between Christians and Muslims.
A group of 80 leaders representing Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Confucian, Hindu, Ahmadiyya and a variety of Muslim groups met Feb. 9 to celebrate the Indonesian launch of A Muslim and a Christian in Dialogue by Badru D. Kateregga and David W. Shenk.
Also present for this historic meeting were 35 Christian students from six Asian countries who were being hosted for a mission training event by PIPKA, the mission arm of GKMI, a conference of Mennonite churches in Indonesia.
“It was just amazing,” said Shenk, co-author of the book and a global consultant with Eastern Mennonite Missions, who was present for the meeting. “Nine years ago such a gathering would have been unthinkable.
“Solo, in Central Java, is a significant meeting place for the cultural and religious diversity of Indonesia, and interethnic and religious tensions were running high, damaging significant portions of the city. Peace in Solo is a blessing to the whole nation.”
Indonesian Mennonite pastor Paulus Hartono, a leader of interfaith peacemaking in the region, said the goal was to promote witness and confession of faith with gentleness and respect without overlooking key areas of difference between Muslims and Christians.
Glenn Kauffman, representative to Asia for EMM, officiated at the book launch and presented copies to key leaders who have cooperated in publishing the dialogue. The publishing project was funded through EMM, with assistance from the Langham Trust of the John Stott Foundation.
Dian Nafi, a Muslim leader who wrote one of the forewords for the Indonesian translation, said: “This book does not compromise the faith of Muslims and Christians but shares the faiths respectfully in a spirit that builds trust and peacemaking.”
Former Mennonite World Conference president Mesach Krisetya wrote the Christian foreword to the book and has also been involved in the interfaith peacebuilding efforts in Solo.
After the initial meeting, a World Missions Institute student group participated in a second launching of the book within the command center of the Hizbullah, a traditionally militant jihadist movement (but different from a Middle Eastern group with a similar name).
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