Church bombings in Indonesia prompt pastor’s call for forgiveness
SURABAYA is the capital city of East Java Province, Indonesia. Like many cities in Indonesia, 80 percent of Surabaya’s population is Muslim. Most Indonesian Muslims here are members of the moderate Nahdatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia. The events of Sunday (May 13, 2018, however, were evidence of the growing threat from Islamist terrorists. One family—including young children–was responsible for early-morning bomb attacks on three churches in Surabaya. One of the targets was the Catholic Church of Mary Immaculate, where Agus Winarso (54) is a parishioner. He tells his story here:
“As usual, like the previous week, I was awake at 5:00 am. My home is near the church. Every Sunday I attend Mass at 7.30 am. I was in the church half an hour before the Mass. Suddenly, there was an explosion outside the church.
“At that moment, I was seated in the front row of the church. After the explosion happened, I I saw smoke rising from the direction of the church’s main gate. Shortly after the sound of the explosion, I was immediately enveloped in fear. I was shocked.
“I heard glass break and the smoke made it hard to see people. People immediately panicked and shouted. They were also trying to run outside. But there were church officers who kept people from leaving the church. Some mothers even screamed hysterically shortly after the incident. When I look at the altar, there were pieces of glass, probably from the windows.”
“When I came out into the parking lot, I saw a victim. The motorcycles usually parked in front of the church were scattered. Near the security post, I saw a black bike and there were three victims lying near the entrance. Later I learned that one of the victims was Aloysius Bayu. He is a committed church member who used to help as a security guard in the church.
“Near the entrance I also saw there were two more victims whose bodies were even cut up. They were the perpetrators of the bombing. The investigation later revealed it was a suicide bombing; the perpetrators were a brother and sister who were forced by their parents to commit the bombing.
“I am grateful I remained safe. God has helped me. Until now I still remember the moments of the event, which were terrible. There are two more victims of the Parish of the Immaculate Santa Maria in Ngagel, Surabaya. They are Nathanael and Evan. Both were hit by the bomb blast when they made their way to attend Sunday school in the parish hall.”
“I am certainly shaken up by this incident. Our parish priest, Father Alexius Kurdo Irianto condemned the attack. However, he also urged people to forgive the perpetrators of this bombing.”
—Antonius Eko Sugiyanto