One wave of warriors came out of the mountains while another came in boats from the sea, crushing the harbor villages on the island of Haruku.
"I heard a grenade and the house went up in an explosion at about 5:30 a.m.," said an Indonesian pastor, in testimony read in the British House of Lords. "Nine people died at the football pitch. ... Some were injured, but still alive, when the military came with bayonets and stabbed them in the neck."
Similar attacks have destroyed hundreds of churches and mosques during the past two years in the Maluku Islands, which were once known as the romantic "Spice Islands."
"Those who died were beheaded," he said. "We have not been able to find their heads, because the soldiers take them."
Hacking off the heads makes it harder to identify victims in the jungles far from modern Indonesia's cities. Witnesses say the raiders wear white jihad robes, often over military uniforms.
There was much, much more, but Baroness Caroline Cox didn't read all the gory details to the lords and ladies last summer. Next week, the controversial nurse that many call the "battling baroness" will take this issue back into Parliament as Indonesia limps into a tense season of Ramadan and Christmas.
"The world is looking the other way, because the world does not know what is happening," said Cox, during a recent tour of Southeast Asia. "There is no longer a universal acceptance of fundamental principles of human rights. ... There are groups in certain parts of the world that no longer see these as binding. They will even say that the U.N. universal declaration was a product of a particular culture and of its Judeo-Christian background."
But the Indonesia crisis is not a simple clash between Islam and Christianity. Cox said she has seen evidence of Muslims dying to defend the homes and churches of neighbors.
The Republic of Indonesia is stunningly complex, a 3,500-mile crescent of 17,670 islands straddling the equinox between the Indian and Pacific oceans. The world's largest archipelago is nearly three times the size of Texas and the population of 225 million includes 300 ethnic groups. The population of 225 million is 88 percent Muslim and 8 percent Christian, with smaller communities of Hindus, Buddhists and others.
It's crucial that President Abdurrahman Wahid, who was elected in 1999, is associated with a school of Islamic renewal that stresses education and culture, over political power. As a Muslim moderate, Wahid openly called for religious toleration during a meeting of the Christian Conference of Asia.
Indonesia is the world's most populous Islamic land and it has historically been the most tolerant of minority faiths. What happens there will impact -- for better or worse -- other nations and cultures. This fragile religious environment was attacked during the three-decade regime of former President Suharto, who encouraged more Muslims to settle in predominately Christian areas. Years of bloodshed in heavily Catholic East Timor horrified the world.
Meanwhile, rapid growth in Jakarta and other cities pulled millions away from island villages and into a global economic marketplace. They gained cell telephones, but lost their roots. This may actually have increased the power of ancient faiths in many lives.
"Whereas in the past ... their identity and culture lay in their village, now it is to be found round the mosque and church," said Oxford Bishop Richard Harries, in the House of Lords.
Now, Indonesian media debate the creation of an explicitly Islamic state that would overturn laws protecting religious toleration. A group called Laskar Jihad has issued a call for violent change and recruited outside help. Observers report that at least 2,000 jihad warriors have been involved in recent campaigns in the Malukus.
"What are those 2,000 armed people doing there?", asked Harries. "How are they allowed to be armed and trained? Why is no one stopping them? ... If it were left up to the local people, I do not believe that there would be these clashes."
At the moment, the villagers feel abandoned. Cox urged the House of Lords to remember the simple words of that village pastor: "If we don't get any help, we will die."