The Lampungese of Indonesia
The Lampungese live on the southernmost tip of Sumatra, one of
Indonesia’s major islands. At one time they were the largest ethnic group living on the island. Today, however, they are outnumbered by the three million Javanese who have been forced by the Indonesian government to relocate in Sumatra over the past twenty years. As a result of these changes, the Lampungese are a people experiencing much bitterness and unrest.
The Lampungese are made up of three groups: the Abung, the Paminggir, and the Pubian. The Abung are mountain people who have a history of headhunting and raiding. The Pubian and Paminggir are lowlanders whose livelihood includes fishing and shipping agricultural goods.
The Lampungese belong to the same linguistic group as the
Komering people, another Indonesian tribe living in Sumatra. The two groups do not associate with each other, however, because they do not share the same customs.
What are their lives like?
A typical Lampung village consists of houses that are built on poles or stilts. These houses center around one municipal building called a sesat. The sesat is generally a one-room house that has been divided into small rooms where people of different classes sit. The village government holds its meetings in the sesat.
Lampungese territory is divided into five regions. Each region is then divided into smaller districts, or megas, that are run by male chiefs. Each mega is named for the family living there.
Women are not without their places in the Lampungese culture. Those who are of noble rank can be easily recognized by the beautifully elegant clothing they wear while dancing.
Many of the Lampungese earn a living as fishermen, while some ship agricultural products to prospective markets, and others are farmers. The recent Javanese migration, however, has forced many of the farmers to move farther north. Others have simply given up farming and turned towards urban centers to find work.
One fascinating Lampungese custom is the making of cloth banners that display family ties. Ships, shrines, human and animal figures are some examples of what might be painted onto such banners. These magnificent works of art are displayed during weddings, rituals, and times of crisis.
Although the Lampungese have their own language, Indonesian is becoming the language of choice, and is used in Sumatran schools.
What are their beliefs?
As a result of Sumatrans trading with Muslims,
Islam edged its way into Sumatra by the end of the thirteenth century. Islamic influence slowly weakened the Lampungese culture, and local chiefs eventually lost their titles and power. By the 19th century, the Lampungese were directly controlled by the Dutch colonial government.
Presently, the Lampungese are devout orthodox Muslims. This is very different from most other south Sumatran tribes which combine their Islamic beliefs with animism (believe that non-human objects have spirits).
What are their needs?
Because of the Indonesian government’s unfavorable migration policy, many of the Lampungese feel mistreated and have become very resentful. This bitterness has led to periods of civil unrest and conflicts with the Javanese newcomers. Tragically, the main source of an evangelical witness to the Lampungese is the Javanese Christians. Since the Indonesian language is so widely used, few materials, secular or Christian, have been published in Lampungese.
The Lampungese are not generally open to new ideas, so outsiders attempting to work among them would probably meet with much resistance. One element fueling this resistance is their devotion to Islam.
There are a reasonable number of Christians from elsewhere (mainly Javanese) now living among the Lampungese. Unfortunately, the Javanese are looked upon unfavorably. There are only about 50 known Lampungese Christians. Although translation of the Scripture into Lampungese language has begun, it is not yet ready for distribution.
- Pray that the spirit of Islam will be broken over the Lampungese and that their hearts will be opened to the Truth.
- Ask God to create a hunger in the hearts of the Lampungese and an openness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Ask the Lord to call loving Javanese Christians who are willing to share the Gospel with the Lampungese.
- Pray that God will raise up other laborers who understand the Muslim culture and who can effectively take the Gospel to the Lampungese.
- Pray that God will encourage the 50 known Lampungese believers. Pray for His protection over them from physical harm.
- Ask God to send qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Lampungese language. Pray that the translation will be completed quickly.
- Pray that a strong Christian work will be established among the Lampungese by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Lampungese
- Their language: lampung
- Largest religion: Muslims (Shafiites)100%
- Christians: 0%
- Church members: 0
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 3
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 192,400 (10%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 1,732,400 (90%)
- Country: Indonesia
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 113
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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