INDONESIA: Sunday School teachers released!

Dr. Rebekka Zakaria (pictured right), Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun were released from prison earlier today. The three Christian women were released on parole ‚Äì having served two years of a three year sentence handed out for running a ‘Sunday School’ that included some local Muslim children.

The women left the prison at 9am local time and went immediately to be reunited with their families. Rebekka, aged 49, is married and has a daughter and son at university. She and her husband also have an adopted adult daughter Linda, who regularly brought food to the women while they were in prison.

Eti, aged 45, is married to Sutrisno and they have two daughters (aged 21 and 15) and a son, aged eight.

Ratna, aged 40, was looking forward to a reunion with her husband Sembiring and her two sons, Joshua (10) and Christopher (8).

Throughout their imprisonment, the ladies remained powerful witnesses for their Christian faith. They transformed the prison by cleaning washrooms and toilets, scrubbing cells, working on the garden and even painting in bright yellow and blue the walls of the room they used for church meetings.

Within the women’s section, quarrelling was reduced and because of Rebekka, Eti and Ratna’s calming influence the guards overruled prison protocol and allowed each woman to have her own knife and spoon in their cell.

The case of these ladies sparked concern among the Christian community worldwide resulting in a letter-writing campaign and prayer vigils in many countries including Ireland. (Open Doors)

INDONESIA: Sunday School teachers lose appeal

On November 22nd, an Indonesian court denied the appeal of three Sunday school teachers convicted of preaching to Muslim children in western Java.

The three women, Rebecca Zakaria, Eti Pangesti and Ratna Bangun, are serving a three-year prison term after being convicted of proselytizing Muslim children who attended their Sunday school class. Under Indonesia law they can make only one more appeal to have their sentences reduced. The women, who have been in prison for six months, maintain that they have been wrongly convicted.

 

Rebecca, Eti and Ratna were recently visited in prison by Jay Esteban (Christian World News) who reports: Dr. Rebecca Zakaria said, “God is using us boldly to minister to other inmates here. We have led two women already and even shared to a Muslim woman. It’s hard being here but I know I am pleasing God by doing His work.”

Ratna Bangun misses her children, 9-year old Joshua and 7-year old Christopher. She says her children hardly ever have the opportunity to visit her, since they are studying in another state. But, her husband visits twice a month.Ratna said, “My children are sometimes crying, asking when I will be back. But they get comforted when they know that their mom is doing Jesus‚Äô work.”

Eti Pangesti owns the house where the three women held the Sunday school programme that was attended by Christian and Muslim children. In the area, in Harleguis, we spoke to Eti’s family. We asked 10 year old Leila how she feels about her mother being in prison. She said, “I‚Äôm proud of my mom because she is doing this for God.” I saw some of the materials, such as colouring books, used for the Happy Sunday school Program these three women taught. About 20 – 25 children would come over and praise and worship God.

Right now, this place may seem abandoned, but once they get out of prison Eti, Ratna and Rebecca are determined to continue teaching God’s Word, not only to children but also to their fellow Indonesians who are not Christians. This, they believe, is God’s will for their lives. (Christian World News)