Bomb threats in Indonesia have brought missionaries Kim and Ron Linegar to Madras, where they are staying with Kim's sister Mona Freshour and her husband Jeff, the assistant pastor of the Conservative Baptist Church.
>Indonesian school closed for one quarter
Three years ago, the Linegars and their two children went to the Indonesian island of Java to help run Mountain View International Christian School. The school is situated in what islanders consider the "small" town of Salatiga, which has a population of 100,000.
Offering kindergarten through 12th grades, the school is for the children of missionaries and foreign businessmen. The Indonesian government won't allow them to teach Indonesian students, but requires their school to teach Indonesian language, geography and history to the English-speaking students.
The Christian school has 150 to 190 students, 30 foreign teachers, three Indonesian teachers, and a campus staff of 90 Indonesians, who help operate six dormitories set up for children from other islands. Ron teaches business and personal finance classes and is also the business administrator of the school. Kim teachers eighth grade geography, 10th grade Bible classes and 11th grade world history.
"We have 17 nationalities, with a lot of Korean, American and East Indian students," Kim said, while Ron noted, "Seventy percent of the students are missionary children and 30 percent are the children of businessmen and expatriates who work for oil companies, in textile mills, or in large factories like Nike, Reebok, and Wilson."
Trouble started following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Concerned about the security of Americans, many mission groups pulled their teachers out of Indonesia, causing the school to close this quarter.
"When the U.S. was getting close to bombing Afghanistan, radical groups started calling in bomb threats, and there was a concern as to whether the police could protect us," Ron said.
"An Australian International School in Jakarta did get bombed with a grenade," Ron said, observing, "You can't control a person on a motorcycle riding by and throwing a grenade."
The Linegars said they themselves did not feel threatened and only returned to the U.S. because they had some personal matters to attend to.
"We feel wherever we are, we are safer if we're in the Lord's will, than if we are somewhere else and not in the Lord's will," Ron explained, adding, "Things can happen here as well as there."
Eighty percent of their neighbors in Salatiga were Muslim and a week before they left one man went around and polled neighbors and they all said they didn't want the school to close.
"The day we left, 40 people came to our door to say goodbye and ask us not to leave and we were in tears," Ron related.
Some of the news seen in the U.S. has been misleading, he indicated.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with 14,000 islands, 700 language groups, and the world's fourth-largest population.
So, when the country has a serious demonstration hundreds of thousands of people turn out. CNN TV, however, covered a minuscule demonstration of 200 people in the city of Yogyarkarta. In that city, which has a population of half a million people and 80 colleges and universities, 200 demonstrators did not reflect the general attitude.
"The non-radical Muslim is embarrassed by the radicals," Ron said.
Kim agreed, "They are very, very peace-directed and will do almost anything not to offend their neighbors."
Before going to Indonesia, the Linegars lived in Salem, then Alaska for seven years, and Ron had been a bank manager for 20 years. Their oldest son, Gabriel, 22, has been at Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, while the two younger kids, Clayton, 11, and Kelsey, 9, are enjoying their visit back in the States.
After a two week stay in Madras, they will spend Christmas with Kim's brother in San Diego, Calif., then return to Java Jan. 8, when the Christian school reopens.
In Salatiga the Linegars had developed a lot by their house into a neighborhood playground with a basketball hoop, volleyball net and other sports equipment. They said there were always about 40 kids on their doorstep and plenty of playmates for Clayton and Kelsey.
With the sudden turn of events, they said their children have taken everything in stride and haven't been upset.
"They love Indonesia and are eager to get back, but also love seeing their cousins here," Kim said.