Muslim extremists have demanded that the government cancel Peter Youngren’s gospel festival in Makassar, Indonesia, threatening to respond with riots and killings. Makassar is the largest city in southern Sulawesi and home to the 2.6 million-strong Makassar people with less than 500 gospel believers.
One team member was told in front of a large group of Muslim leaders, “We know where you are, and we will kill you,” while the crowd chanted, “Hear that, hear that,” and, “Allahu Akbar,” an Islamic phrase meaning “God is greater.” This was followed by thugs going on a rampage through the city, tearing down more than 1,200 billboards advertising the festival.
The gospel event is scheduled to begin Wednesday in the largest open field in the center of the city, something never before done. The concern expressed by the extremists is that healings at the gospel festival will cause Muslims to become Christians.
“These Muslim leaders don’t question that miracles will happen but simply say that when they happen, ‘weak Muslims’ will become believers in Jesus,” festival coordinator Johan Olehall says.
Websites by extreme Muslim groups have previously written about Youngren’s gospel festivals, warning against the effects of miracles done in the name of Jesus. This time, the extremists also expressed concern about the words Jesus is Lord, which are usually very prominent in the nightly salvation prayer.
“It is amazing how they have studied the details of what we do,” Olehall notes.
One of the positive outcomes is that the whole city is talking about the gospel, as newspapers are featuring daily developments. A press conference was filled with Muslim journalists from all media who questioned Youngren for over an hour about the gospel and the recent turmoil.
The outcome is uncertain, as the governor and provincial police are ready to provide security while the Makassar mayor and local police have sided with the demands of the extremists, citing security concerns.
“We ask people to pray,” Youngren says. “No one knows how this will turn out, but I have faced similar situations before where God has miraculously turned things around. The apostle Paul enjoyed great spiritual victories, while at another time he had to escape over the wall in a basket. We know that sometimes opposition is a part of gospel work.”
The daytime gospel seminar for 1,800 delegates from all over the province of southern Sulawesi has not been affected. This is Youngren’s 26th gospel festival in Indonesia.