April 28, 2004
BRAMPTON, ON (Canada) - On Sunday afternoon, April 25, 2004, Septer Sanabuky, director of a Christian seminary on the small island of Ambon, Indonesia, and a seminary student, Berti Manopo, were riding a motorcycle to a ministry outreach when a mob blocked their way and attacked them. Both Septer and Berti were tortured, beheaded, and their bodies burned. Later, the bodies were recovered for burial.
Partners International works closely with the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Indonesia (ETSI) which operates the Ambon seminary and 23 others throughout the archipelago. Septer was among a group of ETSI staff who represented the ministry in many Canadian churches during the spring of 2003.
The deaths of Septer and Berti come in the wake of violence in Ambon last weekend, with the deaths of Christians and Muslims. Fires were set to several hundred houses and a Christian university. The province's 2 million people are evenly divided between Muslims and Christians.
The violence is the worst since warring factions signed a peace deal in February 2002 to end three years of clashes between Christians and Muslims that killed 5,000. It also comes as Indonesia prepares for its first direct presidential election in July.
Septer leaves a wife, Priskila, a three-year-old son, and a baby boy. At press time, it was not known about Berti's family. According to a source at ETSI, this is the first time in the agency's 25 years that anyone has been killed in the line of ministry. The mission of ETSI is to plant one church in every Indonesian village by 2015. The cornerstone of this effort is a network of 24 seminaries with more than 2,000 current students and 2,000 graduates. Partners International assists in the building of the seminaries and in supporting workers in ministry.
In contrast to his violent death, Septer had a history of working with the local government to keep the situation in Ambon peaceful. In September 2002 he wrote, "The Christians and Muslims are becoming more compatible with each other. They have agreed to live together peacefully which makes the situation in Ambon much better than before."
Brent Mitchell, Acting Executive Director of Partners International in Canada, said, "We are deeply saddened by Septer's death, but remain committed to our Indonesian partners during this time of tragedy."
A memorial fund has been established to provide for Septer's family and continue his work in Ambon. Your gifts will be gratefully received. Please contact our office at 1.800.883.7697 to make a donation