Prayer Profile
The Tomini of Indonesia

[IMAGE] The Tomini live on the northwestern peninsula of Sulawesi, the most mountainous island of Indonesia. Forests cover a large portion of the island, although some inland valleys and plateaus have fertile farmlands and rich grazing lands.

The Tomini speak many different languages. These probably evolved because of interaction with various groups through trade. It was formerly thought that the different names of each language were merely referring to the dialects. However, recent research has discovered that each group actually speaks its own distinct language.

The Tominiís cultural history can be divided into four periods: the coming of Islam, the Dutch colonial period, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and Indonesiaís declaration of independence in 1945. Because the Tomini were bypassed by the Dutch missionaries, they have remained strong in their Islamic character.

What Are Their Lives Like?
Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse cultures in the world, with more than 300 distinct people groups. It is no wonder that throughout Indonesian history many civil wars have taken place.

Traditionally, the Tominiís state was governed by a Sultanate, meaning that each tribe was headed by a hereditary chief and his assistants. These chiefs formed a council for assisting the ruler in governing the island. Four classes of people emerged: the royal lineage, the nobility, the commoners, and the former slaves.

In the late 1950ís, movements against the Indonesian government were led by youth groups throughout the island of Sulawesi. In the Tomini region these revolts reached a peak with the Permesta Rebellion of the 1960ís. The rebellion damaged the economy; and since that time, the government has made an effort to reorganize the national and international economic system.

The coastal Tomini produce crops such as clove (used as a spice) and copra (dried coconut meat). Some earn their living as traders, and others as lumberjacks or sailors. The Tomini living in the mountains grow dry rice, and maize (Indian corn). They also gather rattan (a type of wood used in making walking sticks and other wickerwork) for trade along the coast.

Tomini villages are characterized by small houses that are built on stilts. These are mainly located along the coastal strips of the island.

Marriages follow a Muslim pattern. A middleman negotiates the bride price, which depends on the girlís social status. It is acceptable for cousins to marry; and polygamy is also allowed, though not often practiced. Once married, a couple usually lives with their extended family, often until the first child is born.

What Are Their Beliefs?
Muslim traders from Arabia and India were among the first to introduce Islam to Indonesia. Today Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia and is practiced by nearly 85% of the population. The Tomini are mainly Sunni Muslim, a branch of Islam that adheres to orthodox tradition. However, many are less strict in their Islamic practices than are the Muslims in other Arab countries.

In isolated areas of Sulawesi, some Tomini still follow ancient local religions by mixing ancestor and nature worship with Islam and Christianity. In the inland mountain areas, there are also groups who practice animism. They believe that nature and inanimate objects have spirits. The animist population of Tomini is known as suku terasing, meaning foreign tribes.

What Are Their Needs?
The Bible has not yet been translated into the Tomini language. Although there are 442 known Tomini believers, there are no Christian broadcasts or resources available to encourage church growth or evangelism. Two mission agencies are currently working among them, yet an overwhelming majority has never heard the Gospel.

Prayer Points
  • Pray against the spirits of Islam and animism that have kept the Tomini bound for many generations.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Indonesia and share Christ with the Tomini.
  • Pray for the two mission agencies to have wisdom in reaching the Muslims of Sulawesi.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Tomini Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Tomini language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tomini towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of Indonesiaís governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Tomini by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Tomini
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Tomini (Tiadje)
  • Population: (1990) 40,900
    (1995) 44,200
    (2000) 47,600
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 89%
    Ethnic religionist 10%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 442
  • 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: 2
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 14,100 (31%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 3,100 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 11,999 (24%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 30,100 (69%)
  • 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%
    Sudanese Indonesian 3.1%
  • Major religions: Muslim 43.7%
    New Religionist 35%
    Christian 13%
  • Number of denominations: 113

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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