In 1989, Daniel Alamsjah, now 67, was working in Jakarta, Indonesia when he received ‘a vision from God’ to build a unique Christian prayer house in that predominately Muslim country. The result is an enchanting structure buried in the middle of an Indonesian jungle.
In an interview with Jakarta Globe, Daniel said a few months after the vision he was walking with his family through a jungle 342 miles away near Magelang, Central Java, where his wife’s family lives, when he saw the same landscape he had seen in his vision.
“I prayed all night there, and I got the revelation that I must build the prayer house in that spot.”
Daniel initially fought building the structure:
“‘God, I’m no priest, this is not my place. I’m not a fundamentalist. I’m just a devout practicing Christian,’ I thought to myself at the time. Another reason for my hesitation was financial—I didn’t have a lot of money.”
Not a rich man, it took Daniel four years to pay off the $170 needed to buy the property from local farmers. Then with help from people in 30 nearby villages he started construction of the massive structure.
“Perhaps because of my Christian faith, people thought I was building a church. But it’s not a church. I was building a prayer house, not a church, but a place for people who believe in God.”
Daniel designed the building to look like a dove. Built on a hill, the dove’s head, that towers over the landscape, has a red beak and a crown on top. A cross is clearly seen on the back of the dove.
It is a two-story building. In the basement there are 15 rooms including several prayer rooms, a washroom and even sleeping quarters. The main floor is a large chapel and on the second story a prayer room.
According to Daniel in addition to prayer, the building was used to rehabilitate drug addicts, troubled children and even violent people.
Though put in use, the building was never fully completed and construction stopped in 2000 after the money ran out and a short time later abandoned.
Today it goes by a variety of names — perhaps its most popular is “Gereja Ayam” literally Chicken Church. Other names include Church Dove, Pigeon Hill and Bird Church.
However despite being abandoned, the building has turned into a tourist attraction and hundreds of people from around the world visit the prayer house every year providing income for many locals in the area. (You can view a drone video of the building below.)
Indonesia is an archipelago made up of thousands of islands. With a population of 250 million people, it is the fourth most populous country in the world composed of 87% Muslim, 7% protestant and 3% Roman Catholic.
Did God speak to Daniel? Who knows?
But the story reminds me of Leonard Knight, now deceased, who had a similar vision to build Salvation Mountain in California.
Some described Leonard as a bit of an eccentric and loner. But he was definitely a man of faith and vision. Using Adobe clay mixed with straw, he built a 50′ brightly painted mountain. At the bottom, Leonard created the Sea of Galilee.
Murals painted on the outside of the mountain and later in the many rooms constructed inside include the sinner’s prayer Knight uttered when he accepted Christ years earlier. Other structures and even equipment were also added and salvation messages and countless Bible verse are painted in bright colors on everything.
Managed by a trust, it is today also a popular tourist destination.