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The End Postponed…AGAIN!

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The End Postponed…AGAIN!

You probably did not notice anything unusual occurring on Monday 10th November — and that’s probably because nothing unusual actually occurred — at least for most people.

However, in Badung, West Java, Indonesia a group of people with great expectations meeting in a two-storey house had their activities interrupted by police just after 3 pm.

The Pentecostal Christian fringe group was led by Mangapin Sibuea, who had declared himself to be Apostle Paul, the Second. He had drawn many of his followers from other churches throughout Indonesia — as far away as Papua - with his doomsday proclamations and claims that the End of the World would occur between 9 am and 3 pm local time, on Monday 10th November 2003. He had been leading his group since starting it in 1999 — according to some local Christians.

When the police interrupted proceedings just after 3 pm on Monday 10th some of the 283 followers, most of whom had apparently burned their clothes and personal possession, blamed the police for the prophecy’s failure. Local Christian leaders helped police talk to the Sibuea followers and persuaded them that they had been deceived and to leave the ’Prophet’s House’ — as the building was known.

Most of the followers waiting for the end at the Prophet’s House in Sambung were dressed in white shirts and black trousers. They had been involved in a 10-day imposed fast in preparation for the end of the world. Some were in a physically weakened condition.

Police feared possible trouble, even suicide-murder, as a result of nothing happening, and following local expressions of concern over the group, decided to intervene immediately following the passed afternoon deadline.

About a dozen of the leading members, including Mangapin Sibuea and his sons, Michael and Daniel, were amongst those detained.

As a result of Sibuea’s distorted teachings and activities, and the failure of his predictions, some 164 of his followers were receiving counselling and psychological therapy to help them through their confusion and depression, according to a Christian social worker with the Indonesian Christian Communication Forum.

It seems that the Sibuea’s followers did not really have a collective name for their group, so they have been variously reported as being members of the ’Prophet’s House’ and of Sibuea Church. In an unfortunate twist, possibly due to media confusion or carelessness, they have also been incorrectly described (several times in media reports) as members of the ’little known Communication Forum for Indonesian Christians.’

The Indonesian Christian Communication Forum was first formed in 1999 by the Indonesian Catholic bishops’ conference and the National Council of Churches. It is supported by various churches and denominations, including Roman Catholics, Protestants, Salvation Army members and members of the Orthodox Church. It was formed to monitor and report on the numerous attacks against Christian Churches by Muslim extremists throughout Indonesia. It has been seeking to work with officials to reduce tensions and extremism.

The Forum’s president has been Bonar Simangunsong, a Protestant, while Theophilus Bela, a Roman Catholic has been the secretary-general.

(From TACL Vol 24 #6 Nov/Dec 2003)