Prayer Profile
The Pancana of Indonesia

[IMAGE] Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world, 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 20,000 Pancana (also known as the Kapontori) are located in the southeastern part of the island of Sulawesi, south of the Mekonga Mountains. Their language, which is also called Pancana, is a part of the Austronesian language family. Linguistically, the Pancana are closely related to the Cia-Cia and the Muna. Little is known about their specific lifestyle and culture, but it is assumed that the Pancana are very similar to their close neighbors, the Muna, the Bingkokak, and the Maronene.

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 reaching 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 Pancana, maize grown in swiddens (land cleared by "slashing and burning") 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 a higher noble class, a lower noble class, 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.

Pancana marriage customs require payments to the girl's family at the time of engagement and again at the wedding. The amount of the bride-price depends on the social rank of the young man. Prior to marriage, he is required to serve a probationary period with his prospective parents-in-law, 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, noble women 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 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 is the dominant religion in Indonesia today and is practiced by much of the population. Hinduism, widespread in the archipelago before the fourteenth century, is now practiced by only a small number of people, chiefly on the island of Bali. About 13% of the people in Indonesia are Christians, primarily Protestant, and many Chinese follow Buddhist-Taoist teachings. Animism (belief that objects and forces in nature have spirits) is followed by tribes in remote areas.

Islam has been the dominant religion in Indonesia since the 1600's, and the Pancana are virtually all Sunni Muslims. However, traditional beliefs are still very important, especially the belief in evil spirits.

What are their needs?
The Pancana have no Christian resources available 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 Pancana won to Christ.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call missionaries who can share the Gospel with the Pancana in culturally relevant ways.
  • Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, the Jesus film, and evangelical literature will be made available to the Pancana.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Pancana to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Pancana through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Pancana who will openly profess Jesus as Lord.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Pancana bound.
  • 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 Pancana by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Pancana
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Pancana (Suai)
  • Population: (1990) 18,500
    (1995) 20,000
    (2000) 21,600
  • 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: 2,200 (11%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 600 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 1,600 (8%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 17,800 (89%)
  • 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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