Prayer Profile
The Bungku of Indonesia

[IMAGE] Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the world's most ethnically diverse populations, with more than 300 distinct people groups, many of whom are Muslim. Located in southeastern Asia, the many islands of Indonesia command vital sea routes between Australia, Europe, and the Asian mainland. These islands are the principal link between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The 17,400 Bungku of Indonesia are located in central Sulawesi. They are close neighbors to the Tolaki and the Mori. Very little is known about the Bungku in particular, but it is assumed that their lifestyle and culture are very similar to their close neighbors.

Although their history remains largely unknown, it is believed that the Bungku have been in their present location for at least 400 years. Their language, which is also called Bungku, is a part of the Austronesian language family.

What are their lives like?
Sulawesi is an island with a coastline of about 3,500 miles. It consists mainly of four peninsulas separated by deep gulfs, with two of the peninsulas extending southward and two, northeastward. On the southern part of the island is one of Sulawesi's highest points, Mount Lompobatang, an extinct volcano with a height of 9,419 feet. Although the climate of the area is tropical, it is somewhat modified by elevation and the closeness of the sea.

For the Bungku, maize grown in swiddens (land cleared by the "slash and burn" method) is the staple crop, but sweet potatoes, sugarcane, vegetables, tobacco, and coffee are also grown. Scattered among the clearings are their homes, which are usually built on stilts. They are generally made of woven grasses and have very high roofs.

Distinct social classes are still quite pronounced for most groups in Sulawesi, with an upper class of nobility, a lower class of nobility, and the commoners. Each class usually has its own code of behavior, along with various customs and traditions. A region is typically divided into village territories, and rights to land use are administered by the village council. However, the council retains ultimate ownership of all the land.

Bungku marriage customs require payments to the girl's family at the time of the engagement and again at the marriage. The amount of the bride-price depends upon the social rank of the young man. Prior to marriage, he is required to serve a probationary period with his prospective in-laws, and this requirement gives rise to a high degree of elopement. In the past, slaves and their descendants were not permitted to marry each other, though they could live together. Also, women of the noble class did not marry commoners. Polygyny (having more than one wife) was common among some of the aristocracy but is rarely found today.

Today, Indonesia has more than eight million farmers who do not own their own land. To those willing to move from overcrowded areas to less developed islands, the government offers free land, housing, and other assistance.

What are their beliefs?
Islam, the dominant religion in Indonesia today, is practiced by a majority of the population. Hinduism, widespread throughout the islands before the fourteenth century, is now practiced by only a small number of people, chiefly on the island of Bali. About 14% of the people in Indonesia are Christians, primarily Protestant, and many Chinese follow Buddhist-Taoist teachings. Animism (the belief that non-human objects have spirits) is followed by tribes in remote areas.

The Bungku are 99.9% Sunni Muslim. However, traditional beliefs are still very important, especially the belief in evil spirits. Among the Bungku, Christianity is virtually non-existent.

What are their needs?
The Bungku have no Christian resources in their own language, and there are no missions agencies currently working among them. There is a great need for the Bible and other materials to be translated into their language. Intercession is the key to seeing the Bungku reached.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Bungku of Indonesia.
  • Pray that the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts will soon be available to the Bungku.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Bungku language.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Bungku through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Bungku who will boldly declare the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Bungku bound for many generations.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Bungku by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Bungku
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Bungku (Nahine)
  • Population: (1990) 16,100
    (1995) 17,400
    (2000) 18,700
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 99.9%
  • Christian: <1%
  • Church members: 2
  • 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: 2,300 (13%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 500 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 1,800 (10%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 15,100 (87%)
  • 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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