A city that displays many stark contrasts
Indonesia: population of 240 million. The 4th-most populous nation on earth. It straddles the equator across thousands of islands, and is home to 300 different people groups, boasting 700 different languages. In the centre of this shimmering archipelago on the island of Java is the capital city, Jakarta.
Here in Jakarta, all the threads come together as the politics and the economy of the nation are decided. Jakarta, while lacking any real power of attraction for tourists, holds much promise for every Indonesian who wishes to try his luck here. It is so alluring to the Indonesians, that as many as 26 million people live in the urban radius of influence of the city (known as Jabodetabek), and each year many hundreds of thousands more join them. Every ethnic group in Indonesia is represented in Jakarta; in the meantime the Muslim Betawi, the original settlers of the area, have shrunk to a small minority.
Few cities display such stark contrasts. Side by side with the ever-growing number of luxury shopping centres (the “Malls”) and modern high-rise office blocks, are impoverished slums. Many live in shanty dwellings along the railway tracks and the canals overflowing with filth. Only on the streets is there equality for all; in the daily traffic jams, the new Mercedes comes to a halt just the same as the rusting, welded-together minibus.
There is one more severe contrast that leaves an imprint on the city and, indeed, on the whole country: 85% of the population are Muslim, and around 13% Christian. Officially there is freedom of religion, yet discrimination against the Christian minority is daily in evidence. Jakarta shelters militant Islamic fringe groups, but also a series of missions-minded Bible colleges and organisations. But whatever happens, the future of Indonesia is determined by what happens in Jakarta.
- Pray for the Jakarta administration, led by Governor Fauzi Bowo: that they will have wisdom in leading matters both local and national and for peace in the nation of Indonesia.
- Pray for every effort to aid Jakarta’s poor – both spiritually and materially. Several organisations are endeavouring to ease the needs through a variety of projects, and in the process, also to tell about Jesus.
- Pray that God will send a day of grace for the Betawi, among whom only about 100 are known to be Christians.
- Pray for the Christians in Jakarta, who are by no means without influence. Many churches are still not thinking about reaching out. Ask for God’s strength, courage and protection for those believers who are sharing the Gospel.
Listen to the Podcast – DAY 23 – Jakarta, Indonesia