Barnbas Fund. Two churches and a pastor’s house were set on fire by a mob of up to 1,000 Muslims in Sibuhuan, Padang Lawas regency, North Sumatra on 22 January. There were no fatalities, but hundreds of Christians fled their homes to avoid possible attacks. At the time of writing no one had been arrested. The arson attack was the culmination of a dispute between the two communities over the use by local Christians of buildings not registered as churches. According to local police, the two buildings, which have been reduced to ashes, were considered “places of prayer” rather than “churches”, as they did not have the necessary permits, a claim denied by the church leaders. This is apparently the first time such attacks have happened in this area, where substantial Muslim and Christian populations live alongside each other. The Muslim community is reported to be “tired of seeing too many faithful and too many prayers”. A North Sumatra Police spokesman reported that, at meetings following the arson attacks, the Padang Lawas administration, local agencies and religious leaders have “all agreed the financial losses caused by the attacks will be covered and that neutral locations would be provided for Christians to rebuild the churches”. • Pray that the local authorities will restore peace and guarantee that the Christians will be able to worship securely and freely without fear of further attacks. Pray that all those who fled their homes will be able to return. • Pray for peace and mutual respect between members of the different communities in North Sumatra.



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