Indonesian Christians offer cattle for Eid
Protestant Church see gift giving a way of healing a three-year conflict that killed many thousands in Maluku province
A cow offered by GPM for Eid al-Adha celebrations on Sept. 12 (Photo supplied)
The Protestant Church of Maluku, Indonesia, where a three-year conflict claimed thousands lives and displaced over half a million, has offered cattle for Eid al-Adha celebrations in order to build interreligious peace.
"We sent two goats to a mosque located on Geser Island of East Seram district on Sept. 9. This island is occupied by mostly Muslims, but there are six kampongs [villages] inhabited by our congregation," Reverend Elifas Maspaintella, General Secretary of the Synod of the Protestant Church of Maluku — known as GPM — told ucanews.com on Sept. 12, when the Islamic feast was celebrated this year.
"We also sent a cow to An-Nur Great Mosque in Batu Merah on Sept. 10," he said, adding that other congregation members delivered two cows to Muslims living in Waringin and Talake Muka, both in Ambon.
"Such services have become a way to continue living a peaceful life," he said. "It’s also a peace education, which is part of our strategy to prevent radicalism."
Local religious leaders agreed to create peace in the region after an inter-communal conflict between Christians and Muslims raged from 1999 until 2002, according to the Rev. Maspaintella. The violence left up to 6,000 people dead and displaced about 700,000 people before a peace pact was signed by the conflicting parties.
"We don’t want to hear any more stories about conflicts. We all are brothers and sisters," he said.
Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina appreciated the GPM initiative, saying that it was a sign of harmony.
"But for me, the most important thing is how we can have mutual respect in our daily lives," said the Catholic bishop. "Let’s see how Christians and Muslims fight together against corruption and work for the welfare of poor people."
Catholics haven’t yet taken part in the gift offerings, he said. "However, we usually help protect Muslims so that they can pray without any worries during Islamic celebrations. It’s done particularly in areas where Muslims are minorities."
Ali Ong, coordinator of Eid al-Adha celebrations in An-Nur Great Mosque in Batu Merah, said he had received 11 cows and 24 goats from Muslims and the GPM. "We welcome the GPM’s contribution. This is the first contribution that we have received from them," he said.
"Here in Ambon, we have built a strong religious tolerance particularly between Muslims and Christians," he added.
Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.
The festival commemorates the story of the Prophet Abraham, revered also by Christians and Jews, who was willing to sacrifice his only son at God's command.
Scripture says that God did so to test Abraham. When Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, he was stopped by an angel. Then he saw in a thicket a ram caught by its horns and sacrificed it instead of his son.
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