Finding hope on Easter amid challenges


Keeping watch: Nuns passing by armed soldiers standing guard at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral which was attacked by suicide bombers, ahead of Mass on Good Friday in Makassar, South Sulawesi. — AP

For many Christians, this year’s Easter celebration was a test of strength and faith, with the coronavirus pandemic still affecting the lives of millions of people and the country reeling from two recent terror attacks.

Many, however, are looking to the country’s Covid-19 vaccination drive as a source of hope.

Forty-three-year-old Evi Widiyastuti, from Cileungsi, Bogor, West Java, said she wished all members of the public could get vaccinated soon so that people would feel more comfortable going to work and places of worship.

“As a Catholic, I long to go to church and gather for Mass with other members of the congregation, ” said Evi, who is a congregant of Mary the Lady of All Nations in Bogor.

Her 72-year-old father contracted Covid-19 in mid-February and was treated in the hospital for three weeks – a period Evi described as “quite hopeless”, as her father was elderly and had comorbidities.

She was sure that her father had caught the virus from her brother-in-law, who was living with her father in Duren Sawit, East Jakarta. He had tested positive as an asymptomatic Covid-19 carrier.

“There must be a lot of (asymptomatic patients) who carry and spread the virus around like my brother-in-law. It’s scary. That’s why I hope everyone can get vaccinated quickly, ” Evi said.

The government has prepared 30,000 vaccinators, 10,000 community health centres and 3,000 hospitals across the country to support its vaccination drive.

Religious leaders were among the first to get inoculated in order to suppress the stigma on Covid-19 vaccination among those who may have been concerned about the jab for religious reasons.

In late February, about 4,000 religious leaders representing various faiths, including Christianity, were registered to get vaccinated at Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta.

While monitoring a vaccination programme for religious leaders in Semarang, Central Java, on March 10, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo pushed for more regions to vaccinate religious practitioners “so more people will want to be vaccinated”.

Jokowi also appealed to Christians through the Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) to help the government succeed in its inoculation programme by “educating the public” about the Covid-19 vaccine.

In a statement released on March 8, PGI chairman Gomar Gultom called on Indonesian Christians to see the Covid-19 vaccine as “one of the many symbols of hope and a God’s grace”.

“This year, we may be still mourning, but we are not without hope, ” he wrote.

“(God) strengthens our hearts through the distribution of vaccines by the government. This year, we should look forward to our turn to get vaccinated, if any of us has yet to receive them.” — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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