One of the priests at a Catholic cathedral in Indonesia attacked by suicide bombers on Palm Sunday has said he believes that the fact no church member died is “a personal testimony to the world”.
Speaking to Premier, Brother Ari, a partner worker of Open Doors based in Indonesia, described his conversation with Father Wilhelmus Tulak, the priest who was preaching at the time of the attack. Father Tulak told Brother Ari that God protected church members and the guards, who were only two metres away from the bombers.
He recalled how the priest said: ‘What happened in my church is a personal testimony for the world’. Why? Because God protected my church members in time’.
“So, I asked: 'Why do you say that God is protecting [the church]?' And he replied: ‘You can imagine my church members were not too far from the bomber and the guard was not so far, only two meters from the bombers, but the bombers exploded like that and [the bombers] died immediately, but the guard did not’” Brother Ari said, referring to his conversation with Father Tulak.
At least 20 people have been wounded, including four church guards who were working at the time.
Given that Indonesia is one of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nations, Brother Ari said that Christians in the area are unfortunately used to these types of attacks, especially during Christian celebrations.
“Every church already knows it needs to be ready to face this situation. Because in the last two years, that has happened after Easter, and in the past at Christmas. Our government...always make the church leaders aware. So, at every Christian celebration, many police go to the church just to protect churches.”
Authorities have identified a couple in their 20s as the suicide bombers. They married six months ago and are suspected to have militant links.
Police said the couple used a pressure cooker containing high explosive materials and nails to increase the harm to victims.
The country had been on high terrorist alert, following the arrest of the leader of the militant group Jemaah Islamiyah in December.
When asked how Christians can be praying for Indonesia, Brother Ari said prayer for those in hospital is appreciated and for the church to have a united response.
“Please pray for the church members (guards) who are injured. They have been brought to a police hospital to protect them, so please pray for them. And please pray also for our churches in Indonesia, so that we can have a united and be working together hand-in-hand, and that when facing the situation we do not respond wrongly,” Brother Ari concluded.