Prayer Profile
The Jambi Malay of Indonesia

[IMAGE] The Jambi Malay live in Sumatra, one of Indonesia's largest islands. Their name originates from the territory in eastern Sumatra that they occupy, which is near the ancient capital of the Malay world, Melayu. The region is specifically located in the area south of the Kuala River, through the mainland Riau and the Jambi province. The land ranges from heavily forested areas to swamps and marshes.

The Jambi Malay originate from many different tribal groups. This is illustrated by the variety of Malay dialects that are spoken, including Riau-Lingga, Deli, Musi, and Kubu. One primitive tribe, the Kubu, was isolated until the recent exploration of oil and timber in their area. "Silent trade" was one way the tribe kept themselves isolated. Goods to be traded were placed where the traders could review them. Traders then placed their own exchange in an open place. If satisfactory, the tribesman took what was offered.

What Are Their Lives Like?
Agriculture dominates the lives of the Jambi Malay. Their chief products include rubber, tobacco, palm oil, rice, corn, and resin. Many of these and other crops are exported to other countries including the United States. Industry in eastern Sumatra processes the products that are made or grown on the island. For example, rice is milled and tobacco is refined.

Today, the forested areas where the Jambi Malay live are being targeted by the Indonesian government for timber. This has forced some of the remaining tribal groups into the more modern world.

The Jambi Malay organize their society around the family. Traditional settlements consisted of 20 to 30 people living in houses made of bamboo and leaves. Traditionally, Jambi Malay men are allowed to take as many wives as they desire. There is no special celebration surrounding the wedding ceremony. Instead, a village elder "announces" the couple to the rest of the tribe, and the ceremony is finished.

There are many "taboos" among the Jambi Malay. For example, tribesmen will not stay around someone who is fatally ill. Neither will they remain in the presence of a dead body. If a body is found in the forest, they run from it and will not return to that spot.

What Are Their Beliefs?
It is said that to be Malay is to be Muslim, and the Jambi Malay consider themselves to be Malay. Ever since the Islamic religion was introduced in Indonesia years ago, the teachings of Mohammed have flourished there. In Indonesia, eight out of ten people are Muslim. The Jambi Malay are no exception. Today, they are 100% Sunni (orthodox) Muslims.

Although the Jambi Malay are devout Muslims, they also ascribe to some of their traditional tribal beliefs. For instance, they believe that every person is made of three parts: material (sipat), spirit or thinking matter (roh), and health producing matter (njawa). They believe that after death, the njawa and the roh leave the body.

The head religious man is known as the malim, and he is responsible for holding exorcisms, religious ceremonies, and seances. These beliefs, often called adat (tradition), are frequently at odds with Islamic teachings.

There has recently been a move to a more strict practice of Islam among the Jambi Malay. This has led to some discord among those who blend the tribal beliefs with Islam.

What Are Their Needs?
The Jambi Malay are a people that are friendly and courteous. Perhaps this hospitality will open doors for Christian workers to form relationships with them.

Government exploration and extraction of timber and oil from the island of Sumatra have brought numerous cultural changes to the tribal groups. They are being forced to leave their traditional lifestyles and enter into a faster paced, modern world. Proper education is needed to help prepare these people to cope with the cultural changes. Christian teachers and social workers are needed to go to Sumatra and work among the Jambi Malay.

Prayer Points
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Indonesia to work among the Jambi Malay.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Jambi Malay.
  • Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio in their area.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Jambi Malay through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will give the Jambi Malay believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Jambi Malay bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Indonesia through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Jambi Malay church for the glory of His name!

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Jambi Malay
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Jambina
  • Population: (1990) 808,700
    (1995) 874,100
    (2000) 941,100
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Shafiite) 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: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 148,600 (17%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 0 (0%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 148,600 (17%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 725,500 (83%)
  • 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 5.7%
    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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