UPDATE: Bingtang was released on 13 September 2019
On February 13, 2019, fellow retirees Andreas Sarno and Bintang Sirait were arrested on blasphemy charges after giving a Christian booklet to the operator of a coffee cart in a Muslim neighborhood. The two men frequently went together to share the gospel in the different neighborhoods surrounding their city of Jambi, on Sumatra island in Indonesia.
Andreas, 80, is a retired engineer, and Bintang, 73, is a former civil servant. Both were active in sharing the gospel and opening their homes to other Christians.
That morning, Andreas and Bintang left their homes around 7 a.m. as usual, and spent a few hours riding their bikes on the streets, handing out Christian booklets and talking to anyone who was willing about Jesus Christ. They gave booklets to museum guards and a parking attendant before stopping for coffee. They handed a booklet to the coffee cart operator, who handed it to her son. As Andreas and Bintang drank their coffee, they spoke with the woman about the booklet’s contents, which was the testimony of a Muslim man who came to Christ.
Apparently, the woman’s son passed the booklet on to his Muslim friends, who became enraged, calling the booklet heretical. A group of young radicals approached the two elderly Christian men and began to beat Andreas. The police were called, and they took Andreas and Bintang into custody, both for their own protection and to question them about their activities.
They were held for two days before they were formally arrested, and in March 2019, they were charged with blasphemy. Out of respect for their age, the judge sentenced them to only eight months in prison, rather than the maximum five-year sentence that a blasphemy charge can carry.
The two men are rejoicing for the opportunity to suffer for Christ. Andreas even said he wished for a longer sentence in order to be able to share the gospel with all 1200 inmates in the Jambi Class II A Prison where they are being held. “We want to introduce them to Jesus Christ,” he said.
Jl. Pattimura No.KM.8 No.10,
Rw. Sari, Kec. Kota Baru,
Kota Jambi, Jambi 36361
(please read our writing guidelines before contacting any embassy or high commission on behalf of a prisoner)
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
70 Glen Road, Kelburn
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