By StiahailoAnastasiia

These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 7:14b

Three girls were making their way to their Christian school in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, at 7am on 29 October 2005 when they were savagely murdered by Islamic militants.

Christians Theresia Murangke (14), Ida Lambuaga (15) and Alfina Yarni Sambue (15), with their companion Noviana Malewa (14), were attacked in a cocoa plantation a mile from the village of Sayo, near Poso city. They were set upon by a group of men who slashed them with machetes. Half an hour later three decapitated bodies were discovered and, later that morning, one head was found outside a church eight miles from the scene of the attack. The other two heads were found near a police station five miles from Poso. Noviana was able to escape with her life, though she received a severe machete wound to her face.

On 3 December 2007 three Islamic militants were sentenced to up to 19 years in prison for the murders – a lenient sentence compared to the death penalty given to three Christians in a separate case who were convicted of violence on flimsy evidence.

The heartbreaking incident was not the only brutal anti-Christian attack in Central Sulawesi in 2005; at least 20 people, 19 of whom were Christians, lost their lives when two bombs were detonated in a market place in the mainly Christian town of Tentena on 28 May.

These have endured through sufferings great
and come to realms of light,
and through the blood of Christ the Lamb
their robes are pure and white.

Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and W Cameron (1751-1811)

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.