Being a Mormon in Indonesia isn’t easy - whether you’re a missionary or resident member - because of the religious atmosphere in the country, according to Indonesian students, who share some of the persecution they've faced in their lives.
“When I was on my mission, people threw rocks at us,” said Mosia Lucianto, an Indonesian business management alumnus who served his mission there.
Marco Hadisurya, a biochemistry alumni from Indonesia who grew up LDS, said he found out people hated Mormons through her experience attending a Christian elementary school. He shared, “I was invited to bear my testimony. I shared about the Book of Mormon and gave some copies to my classmates and my teacher. A couple weeks later, my principal called me in and talked to me about taking away the Book of Mormon copies and burning them.”
Ari Perdana, an Indonesian senior studying TESOL, shared how her teacher in high school “openly told the class that the Mormon religion is bad, but they stopped when they found out that I’m one.”
According to LDS.org, there are 7,289 LDS Church members in Indonesia, which is less than 1 percent of the people compared to the entire population.
“A hard mission is the real mission,” said Perdana. The stubbornness of the people made it hard for her as both a member and a missionary in her home country. “We needed to be brave and creative. We proselyted on public transportation a lot. It felt awkward at first, but it became natural as we consistently did it.”
In the Indonesia Jakarta Mission, there is a “red zone” where missionaries were not recommended to proselyte because of the threats they might encounter both physical and verbal, said Hadisurya.
Perdana said, “I live in the red zone area. Missionaries used to visit us, but they stopped at one point because they were threatened by some Muslims.”
According to Hadisurya. “We usually teach 5-10 lessons a week. Having 20 lessons is a really good week.
“We mostly look through the area book and contact former investigators. Sometimes, we did street contacting.”
Lucianto said there are also laws that prevent the missionaries to preach directly except when people ask about it. He explained, “We’re not allowed to tract and immediately introduce ourselves as missionaries. We must start with small talk. When they ask about what we do, that’s when we can say our purpose. We can’t teach Muslims unless they invite us to do so.”
Lucianto added, “Service projects and referrals are the most effective way to find investigators.”
The mission helped Perdana realize “success isn’t measured by the number of baptisms but how much effort you put in.”
Not all of the people have a negative opinion about Mormons. Lucianto said his friends were very open. “My friends never judged the book by its cover. When I said I’m a Mormon, they were interested to know more about what a Mormon is. So I referred them to our church website.”
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to share the gospel and help my own people. I feel like I know more about the culture,” Perdana added.