MADURA is an Indonesian island south of Java. Its population of some 7 million people is mostly Muslim; there are very few Christians. But one man converted to Catholicism,
Damianus Edi Rusmanto. Edi belongs to St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Sumenep. The parish has 500 members, most of them ethnic Chinese. As a person of Madurese descent who converted to Christianity, Edi has been harshly treated by neighbors and former friends; and his attempts to teach the community about tolerance continue to require great patience. Edi told his story to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN):
“When I was old enough to begin elementary school, my father sent me to a Catholic school in Sumenep, next to St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church. There, I met the Sisters of the Congregation of the Sisters of the East; when I was in the Fifth Grade, I asked my father if I could become a Catholic. He did not forbid it. Instead, he supported me. He told me to take my faith seriously. I was eventually baptized, and my family soon followed.
“We are grateful to be Catholic and pray together, though we understand that we will face rejection. When my friends learned that I was Catholic, they mocked and stoned me, but I chose to be steadfast and forgive them as Jesus would; I’ve even tried to remain friendly with them. Jesus has taught me to love and forgive all, even those who do evil.
“Eighteen years ago, I married Yustina, and we have been blessed with two daughters, Maria Angela and Benedikta. Maria is in her third year of High School, and Benedikta is in the Fourth Grade. Again, because we are Catholic, some neighbors do not accept us. Even so, I try to be friendly and greet them whenever I see them.
“Christmas is always a happy time for my family. I decorate the house with various trinkets and prepare gifts for our neighbors, though I know that those who are prejudiced will refuse them. I do this because Christmas is a time of gratitude—Jesus gave His life for us.
“I hope that my family remains blessed by God, and that my children grow up to pray diligently and treat others well. It is not easy to be Catholic on Madura Island, and I pray that my children will keep their faith. My wife and I do our best to keep them close to God.”
In 2017, Aid to the Church in Need supported the Church in Indonesia with projects totaling $300,000.
—Antonius Eko Sugiyanto
With picture of Edi and his family, including his mother, Supartinem (© ACN)
Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.
For more information contact Michael Varenne at email@example.com or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org