Ipin* and Rudi* are Christians, formerly Muslims, who were imprisoned for three years for sharing their faith. They recently shared with us what Ramadan means for them now.
Ramadan: Blind Act or By Choice?
When Ipin was a Muslim, he did not fast regularly during Ramadan. And when he did, it was for the sake of pleasing his parents.
He knew from Islamic studies that the main purpose of fasting was to purify oneself from earthly sins, but he felt most didn’t fast for that reason. “They are just following the elders’ tradition, and thus their attitude and habits during Ramadan are no different than any other days,” says Ipin. “My neighbors would scold me each time I didn’t fast, but I challenged them, asking why they fasted. Is it because of their parents, or is it by their own choice?”
In contrast to those who practice Ramadan because of tradition, everything Ipin does for the Lord now has a meaning—nothing is mere ritual. “I’ve become restful since I followed Jesus,” he confesses. “I used to be restless and easily lost my temper, especially with my family. That was because I didn’t rely on the true God.”
“Ramadan reminds me that many are not yet saved”
“I miss my people because I can’t reach out to them as often as I used to,” confesses Rudi when asked about home. Rudi had to leave his community when he was persecuted for sharing about Christ. “I feel so far away from the Muslims in my hometown.”
In his new neighbourhood, Rudi introduces himself as a Christian, sparing him the pressure to fast during Ramadan. When he was still a Muslim he had to fast with others in public, but in his heart, often questioned this tradition. After he received Jesus, Rudi continued fasting in public but not at home. “The minute I reached home, I would open my Bible and felt this unspeakable gladness.”
Though released from the pressure to conform, Rudi misses his former neighbours. “I miss them on Ramadan, not because I miss the fasting month and all its rituals but because I have known the truth when they have not.” His eagerness to preach during Ramadan is no different than any other day. “Any day is a perfect day to preach the Gospel,” Rudi assures us.
Old Yet Bold
Despite the distance from his current house to his hometown, Rudi manages to visit his village once or twice a month. It is during this precious time that he travels wide and vast across villages to preach the gospel and disciple his house church members.
At 62-years-old, Rudi’s health is deteriorating, yet he is still on fire to preach. “I wish I could return to my own village for good to reach out to my own people.” But his children’s ongoing education in another city is stopping him from doing so.
Nestled in one of the country’s most intolerant provinces, his small assembly of former Muslims face daily challenges. Frequently protested by the villagers, they have to move around to conceal their worship schedule. But these threats mean little to Rudi. The old man has gone through a bigger storm in the past and has proven that God was, is, and will always be with him.
*Names changed for security reasons
Indonesia is number 43 on the World Watch List and has the largest Muslim population in the world. It is also Australia and New Zealand’s closest neighbour on the World Watch List. In Indonesia, Open Doors runs persecution preparedness training, provides Bibles and runs socio-economic projects.