It defies logic, but according to a report by the Indonesian government, the Christian population in that Muslim-dominated country has grown by 1% over the past decade.
With just over 86% of Indonesia’s population (272.2 million) identifying as Muslim, the country has the largest muslim population (236 million) of any country in the world.
But the growth of Christianity is interesting considering the emergence of several Muslim extremist groups in recent years, that have been ramping up their persecution of Christians.
This past spring, the government was forced to increase security for churches during Easter services after two militants, a husband and wife, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic extremist group, ISIS, blew themselves up outside a church the previous Palm Sunday, injuring 20.
Yet, despite this growing persecution, International Concern reports that as of June 2021, the government reported that 10.58% of its population is Christian (comprised of 20.4 million protests and 8.4 million Catholics). This is up from 9.87% of its population reporting as Christian in 2010.
In real numbers, the Christian population in that country has grown by nearly 5 million people over the past decade, roughly a 21% increase.
Certainly, Muslims converting to Christianity has been part of this growth, as Islam saw its percentage share of the population drop from over 87% in 2010 to just over 86% this year.
It’s part of growing trend around the world of Muslims turning to Christ.
In an article for the secular publication, Newsweek, ‘Why More Muslims Are Turning to Jesus | Opinion‘, David Garrison, who has worked as a Christian evangelist among Muslim groups for nearly 30 years, states he has seen God moving on Muslims in a unique way in recent years..
During the 1990s, he said very few of his associates were former Muslims, but something changed as we entered the 21st century:
It was almost imperceptible at first. In the mid-1990s, I had a few Berber colleagues who were “former Muslims,” but such co-workers were rare. Then, in the early 2000s, I found myself working alongside scores of South Asian evangelists with names like Muhammad and Islam—all testifying to a change from their former religious affections.
Colleagues working in other corners of the Muslim world echoed similar experiences, with former Muslims now joining their missionary efforts in West Africa, Iran, several Central Asian Republics, Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. Something was happening – even as Christianity was on the wane in many Western countries and vanishing from its roots in much of the Middle East, a wind was blowing through the House of Islam.
Muslims were becoming Christians in droves and Garrison began look for reasons why this was happening. They were many and varied.
But the one that caught my attention hints back to a verse in Acts, when the Apostle Peter explained what was happening after the Holy Spirit fell with power on the day of Pentecost.
Peter cited a prophetic word given by the prophet Joel, that spoke of God pouring out His Holy Spirit upon all flesh in the last days, and one of indicators that this was happening would be the appearance of dreams and visions.
16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
All flesh, means Christians and non Christians alike and as part of this outpouring, even Muslims would be receiving dreams and visions.
And Garrison says that dreams and visions have been a major reason why many Muslims are turning to Christ in the 21st century:
Finally, there was the matter of dreams. Though dreams have fallen into disrepute in the West, they retain their currency in the House of Islam. A common phrase found in many testimonies gathered from West Africa to East Asia began with the words, “I had a dream….” Like the wind itself, these dreams came as invisible harbingers of change. For many, they recall the words of Jesus to a nighttime seeker, “The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8.)
READ: Indonesia Remains Predominantly Muslim, Though Christianity Grew Nearly 1% AND Christianity grows by nearly 1% in Muslim-majority Indonesia AND Indonesia steps up security at churches for Easter after suicide bombing attack AND Why More Muslims Are Turning to Jesus | Opinion