Prayer Profile
The Madurese of Indonesia

[IMAGE] The Madurese are the third largest people group in Indonesia. Although they formerly inhabited the island of Madura, the eastern portion of Java, and the Kangean Islands, most of them now live scattered throughout other parts of Indonesia. This is due to the fact that they previously participated in a government-sponsored "transmigration program." Though the Madurese are a devout Muslim people, they also practice various forms of sorcery and magic.

At different times the Madurese have enjoyed independence from the Javanese Empire. Arrival of Islam in the 16th century was one such time. However, after they were placed under strict Dutch rule in the mid-1800's, they began to lose their status as a separate people group.

The Madurese can only be described as a "hot-headed people." Bull racing and blood feuds are central aspects of their culture. They are also known for seeking out "blood revenge" in cases of adultery and cattle theft, or incidences involving public shame. Other Indonesians view the Madurese as being ruthless and violent.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Madurese that live on the island of Madura have grouped themselves together in farming settlements. Land can either be owned by individuals or by whole communities.

Very few of the people in Madura make their living solely as farmers; the climate there is very arid and the soil is infertile. Instead, many raise sheep, goats, and cattle, some are fishermen, and others transport goods to various markets by boat. Supplemental income is often acquired by the production and trading of crafts.

Java, unlike Madura, has very fertile soil. Its richness, which is due to the presence of volcanoes and regular monsoon rains, promises successful harvests. Despite this, many of the Madurese living in Java have abandoned farming to become fishermen or sailors.

The hot-tempered Madurese often settle their disputes by what is known as carok. This is a type of "blood revenge" in which the victim is attacked from behind with a sickle-shaped knife. A successful, fatal carok often results in a blood feud between families of the victim and the victor. To avoid a carok, one would consult an Islamic clergyman. These clergymen are among the most influential people in Madurese society, and are said to have even more power than the village council.

According to Islamic law, a man may have more than one wife. Marriage proposals are usually made by the groom's parents, preferably to a first or second cousin. If the proposal is accepted, the bride's parents are then presented with the "bride price," which is usually cattle. The groom's parents then set the date for the upcoming wedding. Most newlywed couples live with the bride's family.

What are their beliefs?
Although most of the Madurese are Sunni Muslims of the Shafi sect of Islam, their religion is actually a mixture of very different belief systems. To ensure good luck and success, they have incorporated various forms of sorcery and magic into their Islamic practices.

What are their needs?
The Madurese do not have adequate health care. The patient-to-doctor ratio is a staggering one to 7,427 (one doctor for every 7,427 patients).

Only portions of the Bible have been translated into the Madurese language. There are no Christian radio or television broadcasts in their area at this time.

Although the Madurese do not practice a strict form of Islam, any form of Islam is hard to penetrate. Muslim converts to Christianity are often persecuted, tortured, or even put to death.

There are some missions agencies currently working among the Madurese; however, work permits are becoming harder and harder for Christian personnel to obtain.

After a century of intermittent missionary work and outreaches in Indonesia, the Madurese remain unreached. There are actually several Christian churches located in the city of Surabaya (eastern Java), but they have not been able to reach the Madurese. Some of these churches have been burned to the ground and many of the believers have been persecuted by the Madurese Muslims.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that persecution of Christians will cease and that they will be allowed to freely preach the Gospel.
  • Ask God to raise up loving Indonesian Christians who are willing to share the Gospel with the Madurese.
  • Ask God to raise up trained laborers to complete translation of the Bible into the Madurese language.
  • Ask God to call Christian medical teams to work among the Madurese.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Christians living near or among the Madurese. Pray that they will remain steadfast in their commitment to the Lord.
  • Ask God to eliminate the difficulty for Christians to obtain work permits.
  • Pray for the establishment of strong local churches among the Madurese by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Madurese
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: madura
  • Population: (1990) 10,420,300
    (1995) 11,262,500
    (2000) 12,125,600
  • Largest religion: Muslims (Shafiites) 99.8%
  • Christians: 0.2%
  • Church members: 22,525
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions. NT. Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 9
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 5,090,700 (45%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 585,700 (5%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 4,505,000 (40%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 6,171,800 (55%)


  • Country: Indonesia
  • Population: (1990) 182,811,600
    (1995) 197,587,700
    (2000) 212,730,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Javanese 26.2%
    Javanese Indonesian 10.7%
    Sundanese 10.6%
    Madurese 10.7%
    Sundanese Indonesian 3.1%
    Han Chinese 2.6%
  • Major religions: Muslims 43.7%
    New-Religionists 35%
    Christians 13%
    Ethnic religionists 2.6%
    Hindus 1.9%
    Nonreligious 1.9%
    Buddists 1.0%
  • Number of denominations: 113

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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