The Lematang of Indonesia
The Pasemah probably originated in coastal Borneo and spread to Sumatra and the Pasemah Peninsula as a result of their trading and seafaring lifestyle. Their culture has been strongly influenced by other peoples, such as the Siamese, the Javanese, and the Sumatrans.
Lematang communities first expanded along the Bukit Barisan Mountain Range. Their political center, Pagar Alam ("nature's fortress"), was designed to protect the Pasemah from their more aggressive neighbors, the Rejang. Today, the Indonesian government has designated the city of Lahat as the capital of the district.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Farming is the primary occupation of the Lematang, with about 80% of all employment being in agriculture. Rubber is the main cash crop, but coffee and rice are also grown. Wet-rice plots are worked by hoeing, or by plowing with oxen or water buffalo. Planting and harvesting are usually done by either hired mixed-sex work groups or by the extended family members. Farmers often use tractors in cultivating their crops. A farmer will usually set aside a portion of the proceeds from his harvests for several years, and then buy a tractor from the government.
Since most of the people make their living from farming, major ceremonies are usually held immediately following harvest. These events include marriages, circumcisions, and hair cutting rituals. Every family in the village participates in such activities because of the strong feeling of community.
Lematang families do not usually live together as extended families. Instead, each family tries to have their own separate home. Newlywed couples may temporarily live with their parents, but they prefer to have their own homes as soon as possible.
Women wear cotton sarongs (loose skirts made of long strips of cloth wrapped around the body) with long-sleeved cotton blouses. They also wear jackets, scarves, and skirts over their trousers; they do not wear veils. Men wear western-style cotton shirts and slacks.
What Are Their Beliefs?
In rural areas, the Lematang have also preserved some of their animistic beliefs (belief that non-human objects have spirits) in spirits of the soil and jungle. Traditional medications are widely used, and shamans (medicine men) are frequently consulted for physical, mental, and spiritual ailments and diseases.
What Are Their Needs?
Very few of the Lematang have ever heard the Gospel, and there are no missions agencies currently working among them. At the present time, they are without any portion of the Scriptures, the Jesus film, or Christian radio broadcasts in their own language. Committed Christian missionaries, Bible translators, and media personnel are greatly needed if the Lematang are to hear the Good News that Jesus loves them.Prayer Points
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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