The Long Road to Healing
Encourage Children Targeted In A Church Attack
On 13 November 2016 at a church in East Borneo, Indonesia, four children were playing outside. When their parents attended the Sunday service, an attacker threw two petrol bombs into the church playground. This month we are inviting believers, and Christian children to write cards to the children and let them know they’re not alone.
Alvaro (4), Trinity (4) and Anita (2) were all severely wounded in the attack. Another child, Intan (aged 2), passed away a day later because of her injuries.
Alvaro’s father was working in another part of the country when he heard his son was a victim of the attack. He hurried home.
Image: Alvaro with his parents in April 2017, 6 months after the attack.
“I cried all the way, thinking the worst, that my son’s leg or arm might have been gone,” he said.
Later he heard the news that one of the children, Intan, had died.
“That news broke my heart,” he recalled. “I remembered pleading and pleading with God, ‘O God, please don’t take Alvaro away from me too.’”
“I remember asking ‘Why? Why did this happen to us? Why my son? Have I sinned against God so badly?’ But then I realised I would have wronged God by thinking that way. We are all sinners after all.”
His son, Alvaro, is still traumatised by the incident.
“He is still terrified whenever he sees me cooking,” his mother said. “He will be screaming, ‘Put the fire out, Mama!’”
Anita also hasn’t yet forgotten the sound of the explosion. Whenever her father starts the motorcycle engine, she runs away.
Image: Trinity and Anita in hospital.
The children’s families are still struggling to get their lives back together again. The children continue to battle with the physical pain, trauma and anger. The children were discharged from hospital, but Trinity and Alvaro continue to undergo treatment. Their injuries are very severe and complex.
At one point, the doctor said hair would never grow on Alvaro's scarred scalp again. Later, the family learnt that Alvaro’s ears were functioning normally, and that a hair transplant could be an option.
“I believe he will be alright,” Alvaro’s father said. “God’s Word says that He will never let me be tempted beyond my strength. His promise has become my strength. Alvaro is my only child and I have to be strong.”
Image: Alvaro and Trinity.
Five suspects linked to a local terrorist group are facing court charges for the attack. Trinity’s mother, Sarinah, was summoned to give her testimony.
Sarinah, was on duty as church elder to lead the Sunday service when she heard the blast outside. The first thing that came to her mind was her daughter, playing in the church park as usual. She ran outside looking for Trinity.
“I saw her head covered with smoke and her face black,” Sarinah said. “Her body was so hot that I had to rip away her clothes.”
After giving her witness, Sarinah walked toward the defendants.
“I forgive you,” she said. “Jesus loves you.”
“Please repent,” Sarinah continued. “No more innocent children killed and wounded. Mine is enough.”
Her voice trembled but she held herself together as she walked out of the courtroom.
“I have to face it,” she said. “Maybe God has a beautiful plan behind this awful incident.”
Open Doors visited the families three times and provided them with the practical support they need, as well as books and toys for the children.
Image: Trinity reading a new book.
“Your [Open Doors] gifts and support, and that from other churches and believers, has helped to remind us that there are many good people out there. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers,” said Trinity’s mother.
The children are afraid of meeting new people and looking at their reflection. They have a long journey of healing ahead of them, both physically and mentally.
Image: Trinity and Alvaro in November 2017, one year after the bombing.
We would like to invite other believers, and Christian children to write cards to the children and let them know they’re not alone. Please continue to pray for Alvaro, Trinity, Anita and their families.