Prayer Profile
The Sekayu of Indonesia

[IMAGE] The Sekayu are scattered throughout the South Sumatra province in the country of Indonesia. The world's fifth largest island, Sumatra is endowed with abundant natural resources and possesses vast economic potential. The name sekayu refers to the long piece of cloth upon which the people sit together to eat. The standard measurement for that length of cloth is called a sekayu.

Indonesia is a Southeast Asian archipelago of over 17,000 islands stretching 3000 miles along the equator. It has more Muslims than any other country and the fourth largest population in the world. The nation has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world, with over 600 distinct people groups.

Due to frequent flooding from the Musi River, the Sekayu are relatively isolated from the provincial capital, Palembang. This isolation has contributed to the development of local dialect accents, pronunciations, and a unique vocabulary.

What Are Their Lives Like?
Most Sekayu earn a living from work related to agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing, transportation, or building. An increasing number of Sekayu work in the cities as salesmen, shopkeepers, factory workers, and skilled laborers.

The Sakayu tend to build their houses with immediate access to the waters of the Musi River. This powerful waterway traces its highland source from a range of the Bukit Barisan Mountains, located in the province of Bengkulu, 350 kilometers to the west. Rural Sekayu Malay houses, whether over land or water, are almost always built on stilts. Every Sekayu village has an Islamic house of worship. Most have mosques or small prayer houses, and a few have religious teaching centers.

Sekayu families are patriarchal, that is, they are basically male-dominated. The wife's responsibility is to maintain the order and harmony of the home. Families generally prefer male children. In fact, the grandparents on both sides consider a grandson's birth a "strengthening of their position" since it is extremely important that the family name continue.

Unlike some Indonesian people groups, such as the Bugis, Minangkabau, and Javanese, the Sekayu seldom migrate far from their native cities or towns. The tendency among the more progressive is to seek advancement in the provincial capital, which is now accessible by paved road, less than three hours to the east.

What Are Their Beliefs?
The Sekayu are nearly 100% Muslim and practice Islam with intense dedication. They are devoutly religious people who pray five times daily, kneeling toward Mecca, the holy city of Islam. However, they also maintain a number of occult and animistic beliefs (the belief that non-living objects have spirits) common to many Malay people groups in Indonesia. They may visit a dukun, or "soothsayer," during times of physical or emotional need, or for favors such as fortune-telling or contacting the spirits of dead loved ones.

The Sekayu often claim that they are more devoted Muslims than most Indonesian people groups. They claim, for example, that that they do not pray "to" the spirits of the dead, as do other Indonesian Muslims. Rather, they pray "for" them to Allah, that they might be received into heaven. They believe that redemption from sin is accomplished only by confession directly to Allah, not through sacrificial ritual (a practice they consider to be derived from Hindu and animistic sources imported from India or Java).

What Are Their Needs?
The material needs of Sekayu are similar to those of many people groups in Indonesia. The young need practical vocational training. The Sekayu have few financial opportunities, but great economic potential. They need education, appropriate technology, training in basic skills, and the assurance of a meaningful future. The vast resources of Sumatra need to be exploited and a dependable infrastructure developed. They also desperately need to be delivered from the powers of legalism and the occult that dominate their culture and lives.

Prayer Points
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Indonesia to share God's love with the Lasi.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Sekayu through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will give the Sekayu believers boldness to share Christ with their people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Sekayu bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Sekayu church for the glory of His name!
  • Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Sekayu.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Sekayu who will boldly declare the Gospel.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Sekayu
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Sekayu
  • Population: (1990) 404,400
    (1995) 437,100
    (2000) 470,600
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 90%
    Ethnic religionist 9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 44
  • 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: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 52,500 (12%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 13,200 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 39,300 (9%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 384,600 (88%)
  • 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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