Christmas Miracles in Indonesia

The following account of one of the Christmas bombings is composed by an Indonesian who ministers cross-culturally in another country.

January, 2001
Our dear friends,

In this e-mail/letter, I am going to share with you about the bomb that exploded in the Bethany Church in Batam Island in Indonesia, which lies South of Singapore. It happened last Christmas eve as people were worshiping the Lord. This is a first hand story that was told by the pastor of that church (I met him personally a few years ago) in Indonesian language, and I have translated it into English to be a blessing to all of us who read it. That bomb explosion was one among many that exploded in many different places in Indo during last Christmas eve.

The Most Exciting Christmas Eve

Usually for many years we celebrated Christmas in November, in an open air building attended by 10,000 people. But this time, that building couldn't be used, so the only alternative was the "Carnaval Mall" that has 1500 seats, in which we have our weekly worship services. Because of the limitation of the size of the building, we chose the 24th of December with the consideration that every church has Christmas service also. Even though we have decided this, we still added another 500 chairs and the service will be held 2 times: 5.00 p.m. - 7.30 p.m. and the second would be 8.00 p.m. - 10.30 p.m.

An Unexpected Christmas Gift

We missed the calculation about the time space between these 2 services, so the ushers couldn't control the crowds that were leaving the building and those who would attend the next service. It seemed this situation was used well by "the murderers" to smuggle 3 death parcels into the building where people gathered together. Two bombs were laid 2 meters from the entry (the front door).

They were only meter from the row of seats full of people. Close to this exit is the most ideal place for the mothers to put their prams [baby stollers]. Another bomb with a very high capacity was laid in a "travel bag" under a seat in the middle of the building. Nobody knew about these things. The whole congregation were deeply concentrating on the whole program. Journey Through The Valley of Death: Around 9.00 p.m there were 3 men stood up and left the building. The ushers didin't have any suspicion.They thought maybe they were going to the washroom. Seeing them leave the building, somehow suggested to the mothers who have babies to carry the babies outside to put them to sleep. 10 minutes after that, suddenly they heard a very strong explosion. Before they realized what happened, another explosion happened. Both of them came from the direction of the exit. A pillar of fire as high as 5 meters mixed with a very heavy dark smoke exploded to the air and went to the middle of the congregation. The whole building was dark. The electricity was out, they smelled the explosion of bomb. People screamed uncontrollably, one couldn't distinguish between the screaming, praying, some praying in the spirit and the shouting from the church workers asking for calm. "Bomb"!! "Fire"!! "Run"!! In the midst of the chaos, panic and darkness two thousand people tried to reach the exit. The deacons and myself with all our strength and courage tried our best to calm down the whole congregation and direct them to leave through the exit (front door). Even though I found it difficult to breathe because of the heavy smoke, I continued to direct the people to the exit, while I was carrying a little girl (5 years old) who before sat next to me and who was trampled by people. Only then I realized that it was a bomb that exploded.

Suddenly there was a gentle spirit spoke to me from the book of Nahum in the Old Testament: "His way is in the whirlwind and the storm." I whispered in my heart, "Yes, the Lord is here, this isn't a tragedy but this is a miracle." Suddenly I felt as if there was very cool fresh water running within my heart, I got a deep peace that is beyond understanding until I couldn't think that some people may have died. At that moment lights came on again in the midst of heavy smoke. Through the heavy smoke, gradually I was able to see people were still in a panic pushing each other toward the exit. I said to myself, praise the Lord the building wasn't on fire.

Outside the building I was able to hear people were weeping as they looked for each other and found their friends and family were all right. The deacons and myself were still inside the building until everybody left and by that time the smoke was getting less. Still in the midst of the smoke I was able to see the chaos, the wall of the building was damaged badly, and the floor covered with debris. I was still inside looking everywhere to see if there would be anybody left uncouncious or hurt. Praise the Lord. None! I asked the deacons to make a list of those who need help from a doctor. I found the report from them as follows:

a) A lady was unconcious outside because of the shock but she was all right.

b) A lady deaconess who sat meter from where the bomb exploded, had her dress burned on one side and she had a little bruise on her ankle and her right ear had a little bleeding and she couldn't hear. The doctor checked her ear and he confirmed that within 2-3 days she would be all right.

c) A lady who tried to calm the people was pushed and got a little bit hurt on her ankle.

d) A deacon who stood with his back to the bomb only a meter away from it, his jacket was torn at the back and under the sleeve, but nothing happened on his shirt. No sign of burning on his shirt, nor around his body. The only problem that he had was his ear was ringing. Seeing the condition of the building, and that many plastic chairs were torn into pieces and the pillar of fire went toward the people, it was impossible to believe that nobody got serious injuries. For God nothing shall be imposible! Praise the Lord.

The Invisible Helping Hand

Those who sat near the explosion experienced that at the moment the bomb exploded they felt a strong power that threw them toward the middle before the chairs, flying and torn into pieces by the strong explosion, were consumed by fire.

Besides all these things, the explosion caused the wall of the building to collapse outward, so nobody got hurt by that. The ceiling which was 7-8 meters from the floor, had a lot of holes from 1cm-20 cm diameter. Another wonderful thing that happened was the contents of the bomb which were shrapnel (nails etc) scattered over the whole room but didn't touch or hit anyone.

Heavenly Team From Heaven

After the situation was under control the police came and put the yellow ribbon and I asked the deacons to collect and save all the belongings of the congregation that were scattered everywhere, shoes, hand bags, handphones [cell phones], bibles etc. They did this very fast and we collected all on the platform and wrapped them in a big curtain material and put it in one of the stores in the same mall that belongs to one of the church members.

Without we realized, there was a red travel bag that had a very powerful bomb in it, with an active timer. This bomb didn't explode because the timer was stopped before the time that should happen. We just realized this the next day when the police searched this bomb. During the night Jesus sent His angels from heaven to stop the timer.

What Is The Next Miracle?

The next day, the 25th of December, after I prayed on the way to go to the bathroom, I continued to asked God what should I do on this Christmas day? We planned to have Christmas worship service at 9 a.m. in the same building but now because of what happened the night before we couldn't use it at all and it was closed by police, plus of course the congregation still have trauma from last night's tragedy.

At 8.15 a.m. some of the full time workers and deacons went to the location wearing tee-shirts, to search for more things that were left behind. They were startled to see the believers started to come and saying they are ready to worship the Lord. I was startled when the deacons called me on the phone: "Pastor, the congregation is all here. What should we do?" The same question I had asked the Lord. As I was driving to the Carnaval Mall, the Holy Spirit reminded me about my conversation last night with my senior pastor in Jakarta. At the end of my report to him, I told him my concern, - please pray that the congregation will not fall in their faith. But my senior pastor answered confidently: "You will see that they will not be discouraged but they will be courageous for the Lord." Deep down in my heart I wasn't sure. How about all the people who screamed with fear last night?? But suddenly there was a gentle voice spoke in my heart: "We must have a worship service, ask permission from the police". That was right, the building would be opened soon, and they sent some guards.

The whole congregation, standing on top of the debris, were deeply moved. They raised their hands up in worship, singing with thanksgiving as the simple music was played. We were engulfed in His Majesty, Power and Goodness. We never experienced the closeness of the presence of God like at that time. It was so awesome.

The Holy Spirit prompted me to ask the congregation, "Who among you attended the first Christmas service?" Only a few raised their hands. "Who among you attended the second Christmas service when the bomb exploded?" 90 % raised their hands. I couldn't stand it any longer, I just wept before the Lord. Again I asked them, what makes you not be afraid? A lady spontaneously answered: "I want to see more miracles that God will do for us." As she was speaking, the Holy Spirit wishpered in my ear: "Take notice of Exodus 20:18-21. As the Israelites saw the thunder and lightining, they trembled with fear.

They stayed at a distance, while Moses who had met God personally in the burning bush wasn't afraid of coming close to God. That would be the same for those who only heard about my power and miracle that I have done. They are fearful, but those who have experienced My Power, they will be more thirsty for Me."

This service was unspeakable because the speaker was Jesus Himself for a minute. The message was that the shaking will be stronger as we enter the year 2001. Death is everywhere but don't be afraid, for the church of Jesus that always has deep intimacy with Him will be guided with His glory and protection, power and mercy so that His church will be a city of refuge for all nations.

After the service finished I asked the deacons to remove all the belongings that they found the night before to the secretary's office and asked the congregation to look for their belongings there. While they were transferring those things into the car, suddenly the "heavy red travel bag" fell and rolled down. One of the intercessors was suspicious because of its weight, so he opened it and he was shocked. He screamed, "Bomb!! Bomb!!. He was stunned, unable to move .

Another young man who stood next to him suddenly received "holy boldness." He right away took that bag and ran as fast as he could to the parking lot, the distance was 150 meters from where they found it, and laid it carefully, slowly on the grass and then he ran back as fast as he could. With shaking in his body and tears running down from his eyes, he said: "I didn't know what I did except I should lay that thing down slowly." The police searched this bomb and actually it was still active including its timer. The police themselves exploded it so that nobody will be killed. According to the police this bomb had a very high capacity and could have destroyed the whole building and killed all the people within 150 meters radius.

We were more awed, really our God is an awesome God. We experienced what Psalm 46 said. We couldn't imagine - if that bomb had exploded, all of us 2000 people would have been killed that night. Thanks be to God, He defends His Holy Name. Satan wants to put shame on His name but Jesus turned his planning upside down

All those miracles were announced publicly by the police office and provincial legislative office in Batam with all the religious leaders from the whole island of Batam. Praise the Lord! This was another big miracle that we experienced on this Christmas day.

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