Christians and Muslims work together for Indonesian development

By staff writers
October 10, 2006

Christians and Muslims work together for Indonesian development

-10/10/06

Four months after an earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Java, Indonesian Mennonites and Muslims are rebuilding homes and forging new relationships across religious lines, says Jeanne Jantzi a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) country representative for Indonesia.

Mennonites are Christians in the Anabaptist peace church tradition. MCC is a North American relief, development and advocacy organization.

The 27 May 2006 earthquake claimed more than 6,200 lives and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in Java, Indonesia's most populous island.

Starting in October, MCC is sponsoring a project to build 100 earthquake-resistant houses in Java's Pundong district. The project will involve and benefit both Muslims and Mennonites, and it follows a successful interfaith relief effort.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Indonesian Mennonites organized Mennonite and Muslim volunteers to distribute aid, clean up rubble and construct temporary shelters in Pundong.

Sixty-two volunteers from an Islamic group joined more than 200 volunteers from Muria Christian Church in Indonesia and 32 volunteers from Evangelical Church of Java, which are Mennonite World Conference denominations. Eight MCC workers joined the effort as well. Together, the group assisted thousands of people and prepared sites to rebuild 100 homes.

The participation of the Islamic group was remarkable because it is a militia that fought in an armed conflict between Muslims and Christians on Indonesia's Maluku Islands in 2000.

Pak Payilan Martowiyardjo, a Mennonite whose home was destroyed in the earthquake, said that the Islamic group "made peace by coming to help."

"They cleaned our well," Pak Payilan said. "They are people just as we are people. We weren't afraid of them."

The volunteers worked together, ate together and slept together in tents and in a Mennonite church sanctuary. They were organized by Mennonite Diaconial Services, an agency of Muria Christian Church in Indonesia.

Paulus Hartono, the agency's director, said that community members marveled at the cooperation between Mennonites and an Islamic militia. Some asked, "How can this happen?"

The partnership began several years ago when Hartono befriended the militia's commander by helping to mediate a conflict involving the militia's radio station. Hartono is a member of Forum for Peace Across Religions and Groups, an MCC partner organization in the Indonesian city of Solo.

The commander then asked Forum for Peace Across Religions and Groups to organize conflict transformation workshops for militia members. The forum worked with Muslim and Christian facilitators from Duta Wacana Christian University's Peace Center to plan the workshops, which more than 75 militia members have attended.

The objective of the workshops was to enable participants to become agents of peace in their communities and purveyors of wisdom in addressing community problems. When the earthquake happened, trust had built to the point where collaborative peace work in the form of helping others was possible.

Hartono overheard one Muslim volunteer explain to a community member, "This works because we want to have good communication. ... We want to do something we can be proud of. Now we can give something to the community."

Another Muslim volunteer told Hartono, "Thank you for this disaster response program. We know now that the Church and Christian people are not like we thought before."

Mennonite Diaconial Services is organizing the MCC-supported project to build 100 houses in Pundong district. Builders will be hired from local communities and Indonesian Mennonite churches. The recipients will be 45 Mennonite families and 55 non-Mennonite families, most of whom are Muslims.

Priority was given to families whose homes were irreparable, people who lost family members in the earthquake, widows, orphans and households with small children. Many of the families contributed to the project by salvaging building materials from their ruined houses, such as bricks, tiles and timber.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonites offer support to 'resilient' Amish community 04/10/06; Colombian Mennonite peace group wins 2006 Nonviolence prize 04/10/06; Mennonite seeks dialogue on Iranian presidentís letter to George Bush 22/09/06; Mennonites respond to sexual abuse challenge 21/09/06; Mennonite peacebuilding expert receives international award 19/09/06; Mennonites highlight three new anti-HIV strategies 23/08/06; Mennonites join effort to rebuild in Lebanon 17/08/06; Mennonite-backed film helps lift silence on depression 15/08/06; Mennonites see hope amid Congo struggle for democracy 10/08/06; Mennonites respond to massive Lebanese humanitarian needs 09/08/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza 20/07/06; Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC; Who Are the Anabaptists: Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites by Donald B Kraybill Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment; Mennonite educationists touch global vision in Egypt; Vietnamese Mennonite church faces violent security raid; Ethiopian Mennonite leader delves into politics; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God; Mennonites and Catholics seek to cooperate on peacemaking; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank]

Christians and Muslims work together for Indonesian development

-10/10/06

Four months after an earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Java, Indonesian Mennonites and Muslims are rebuilding homes and forging new relationships across religious lines, says Jeanne Jantzi a Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) country representative for Indonesia.

Mennonites are Christians in the Anabaptist peace church tradition. MCC is a North American relief, development and advocacy organization.

The 27 May 2006 earthquake claimed more than 6,200 lives and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in Java, Indonesia's most populous island.

Starting in October, MCC is sponsoring a project to build 100 earthquake-resistant houses in Java's Pundong district. The project will involve and benefit both Muslims and Mennonites, and it follows a successful interfaith relief effort.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Indonesian Mennonites organized Mennonite and Muslim volunteers to distribute aid, clean up rubble and construct temporary shelters in Pundong.

Sixty-two volunteers from an Islamic group joined more than 200 volunteers from Muria Christian Church in Indonesia and 32 volunteers from Evangelical Church of Java, which are Mennonite World Conference denominations. Eight MCC workers joined the effort as well. Together, the group assisted thousands of people and prepared sites to rebuild 100 homes.

The participation of the Islamic group was remarkable because it is a militia that fought in an armed conflict between Muslims and Christians on Indonesia's Maluku Islands in 2000.

Pak Payilan Martowiyardjo, a Mennonite whose home was destroyed in the earthquake, said that the Islamic group "made peace by coming to help."

"They cleaned our well," Pak Payilan said. "They are people just as we are people. We weren't afraid of them."

The volunteers worked together, ate together and slept together in tents and in a Mennonite church sanctuary. They were organized by Mennonite Diaconial Services, an agency of Muria Christian Church in Indonesia.

Paulus Hartono, the agency's director, said that community members marveled at the cooperation between Mennonites and an Islamic militia. Some asked, "How can this happen?"

The partnership began several years ago when Hartono befriended the militia's commander by helping to mediate a conflict involving the militia's radio station. Hartono is a member of Forum for Peace Across Religions and Groups, an MCC partner organization in the Indonesian city of Solo.

The commander then asked Forum for Peace Across Religions and Groups to organize conflict transformation workshops for militia members. The forum worked with Muslim and Christian facilitators from Duta Wacana Christian University's Peace Center to plan the workshops, which more than 75 militia members have attended.

The objective of the workshops was to enable participants to become agents of peace in their communities and purveyors of wisdom in addressing community problems. When the earthquake happened, trust had built to the point where collaborative peace work in the form of helping others was possible.

Hartono overheard one Muslim volunteer explain to a community member, "This works because we want to have good communication. ... We want to do something we can be proud of. Now we can give something to the community."

Another Muslim volunteer told Hartono, "Thank you for this disaster response program. We know now that the Church and Christian people are not like we thought before."

Mennonite Diaconial Services is organizing the MCC-supported project to build 100 houses in Pundong district. Builders will be hired from local communities and Indonesian Mennonite churches. The recipients will be 45 Mennonite families and 55 non-Mennonite families, most of whom are Muslims.

Priority was given to families whose homes were irreparable, people who lost family members in the earthquake, widows, orphans and households with small children. Many of the families contributed to the project by salvaging building materials from their ruined houses, such as bricks, tiles and timber.

[Also on Ekklesia: Mennonites offer support to 'resilient' Amish community 04/10/06; Colombian Mennonite peace group wins 2006 Nonviolence prize 04/10/06; Mennonite seeks dialogue on Iranian presidentís letter to George Bush 22/09/06; Mennonites respond to sexual abuse challenge 21/09/06; Mennonite peacebuilding expert receives international award 19/09/06; Mennonites highlight three new anti-HIV strategies 23/08/06; Mennonites join effort to rebuild in Lebanon 17/08/06; Mennonite-backed film helps lift silence on depression 15/08/06; Mennonites see hope amid Congo struggle for democracy 10/08/06; Mennonites respond to massive Lebanese humanitarian needs 09/08/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Mennonites back trauma counselling in Gaza 20/07/06; Mennonites diversify peace and justice work in Washington DC; Who Are the Anabaptists: Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites by Donald B Kraybill Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment; Mennonite educationists touch global vision in Egypt; Vietnamese Mennonite church faces violent security raid; Ethiopian Mennonite leader delves into politics; European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God; Mennonites and Catholics seek to cooperate on peacemaking; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank]

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