Prayer Profile
The Tenggerese of Indonesia

[IMAGE] The Tenggerese live on the slopes of a large volcanic crater high in the Tengger Mountains of eastern Java. Their origins are uncertain, but some consider them to be refugees from the ancient Hindu-Javanese kingdom of Madjapahit who retreated to the mountains at the fall of Madjapahit in the early sixteenth century. Others believe they occupied the area well before that period. The people speak an archaic Javanese dialect called Tengger.

The populous (and still growing) nation of Indonesia has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world—more than 300 distinct people groups. Located in Southeast Asia on an archipelago of more than 3,000 islands that command vital sea routes between Australia, Europe, and the Asian mainland, they are the principal link between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. With about sixty percent of the total population, Java is the most populated Indonesian island.

What are their lives like?
The Tenggerese are farmers who grow corn on dry permanent fields or, by using the "slash and burn" technique, they create temporary agricultural plots called swiddens. For more than a century many have also grown vegetables and potatoes as cash crops. Farms are very small—the average size is about one hectare (slightly over 2.4 acres). Because farms are so small and unable to sustain large families, the number of landless peasants has increased rapidly, causing a swelling immigration to the cities and coastal areas.

Tenggerese youth are free to do their own courting, although parental consent is required. The wedding ceremony takes place in the bride's home. Ideally, the newlyweds set up their own household, but in many cases they are forced to live with their parents until they can afford their own dwelling. The average household may be an extended family composed of nephews and nieces or younger brothers, sisters, or cousins and may have between seven and ten members.

A village consist of clusters of smaller villages, or hamlets. The village headman is elected for life by the adult (male and female) citizens of the village. He is assisted by village administrators and controls the headmen of the various hamlets.

What are their beliefs?
Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia today and is practiced by nearly eighty-five percent of the population. About eight percent are Christian, primarily Protestant. Hinduism, widespread in the archipelago before the fourteenth century, is now practiced by only two percent of the population, chiefly on Bali—and the Tenggerese.

Unlike the other major groups on Java, the Tenggerese have refused Islam, but they have also shown little response to the few attempts to reach them with the Gospel. A few believers belong to ethnically mixed churches, but there is not yet a true Tenggerese church. Most Tenggerese are Hindus who mix their beliefs with animism (belief that non-living objects have spirits).

Each temple congregation holds periodic rituals to placate and please various gods and protect the group's peace and prosperity. They also make offerings to the spirits of their deceased ancestors and to spirits connected with certain places. Brahman priests conduct the major religious ceremonies; lower caste priests care for the temples and perform local ceremonies. Rituals are performed in several cycles, with the most important being a six-month cycle. Families arrange "life cycle rituals," an especially important task when planning the cremation of a family member. Rituals often include music and dance.

What are their needs?
In spite of more than a century of exposure to the outside world and a significant amount of evangelization, the Tenggerese have maintained their original religious concepts and practices and have shown little lasting response to the Gospel. Some Christian broadcasts are available, but the Bible and the Jesus film are not yet available in their language. Four missions agencies are currently working among them.

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Tenggerese.
  • Pray for increased effectiveness of Christian broadcasts to the Tenggerese.
  • Pray that the Jesus film will soon be made available in the Tengger language.
  • Pray for qualified linguists who can continue translating the Bible into the Tengger language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tenggerese towards the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the principalities and powers that are keeping the Tenggerese bound in spiritual darkness.
  • Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Tenggerese by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Tenggerese
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Tengger
  • Population: (1990) 503,600
    (1995) 544,400
    (2000) 586,100
  • Largest religion: Hindu 95%
    Muslim (Sunni) 4%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 5,444
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 4
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 196,000 (36%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 38,100 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 157,900 (29%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 348,400 (64%)
  • 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%
    Sudanese 10.6%
    Madurese 10.7%
    Sudanese 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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