Christmas celebrations traditionally filled with laughter and uplifting music were replaced by somber prayers for tsunami victims in an area hit without warning, leaving more than 420 people dead and thousands more homeless in disaster-prone Indonesia.
Pastor Markus Taekz said Tuesday his Rahmat Pentecostal Church in the hard-hit area of Carita did not celebrate with joyous songs this year. Instead, he said only about 100 people showed up for the Christmas Eve service, usually attended by double that number. Many congregation members had already left the area for the capital, Jakarta, or other locations away from the impact zone.
“This is an unusual situation because we have a very bad disaster that killed hundreds of our sisters and brothers in Banten,” he said, referring to the Javanese province. “So our celebration is full of grief.”
Church leaders called on Christians across Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, to pray for victims of the tsunami. Read more