The Kayu Agung of Indonesia
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. The Kayu Agung live in the vicinity of their namesake town, Kayu Agung, in southern Sumatra. The origin of their name is unclear; however, it means "the people of the noble wood."
The total Kayu Agung population is located in about 40 villages, and most of them live in the same area their entire lives. Some neighboring groups characterize the Kayu Agung as lazy and thieving and are, thus, contemptuous of them. They are even reputed to be consistently involved in gang robberies. One rumor suggests that they are blessed by the local religious leader before setting off on a robbery. Upon their successful return, they purchase land, build houses, and make a contribution to the local religious leader. The Kayu Agung are generally unfriendly and suspicious of outsiders.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Kayu Agung are engaged in agriculture. Both men and women work in the fields. The principal crops grown are rice, and fruits such as bananas, pineapple, and durian (a large, foul-smelling fruit with a prickly rind). The Kayu Agung are not significantly involved in making handicrafts.
Kayu Agung houses have timber walls and floors, with a sago (type of palm) leaf roof. The houses are usually built on wooden stilts that are raised several feet off the ground. The very poor Kayu Agung build their houses in swampy areas to avoid having to buy or rent the land.
The Kayu Agung are governed by a political leader who is appointed and paid a salary by the government. However, the villagers do elect a village chief. This chief receives no salary, but he does receive a 10% tax on all land transfers. In everyday life, the village religious leader has a much greater influence than does the chief. The religious leader mediates village conflicts, while the individual household heads resolve family conflicts. The villagers themselves handle discipline for less serious crimes, but more serious crimes are referred to the police.
Kayu Agung young people are allowed to select their own marriage partners, but the family must give approval. If one family disapproves, the village chief can be asked to intervene in the situation. If he approves, the families must allow the marriage to take place. The spiritual leaders are asked to determine a good day for the wedding, which will last from two to three days. Men pay a dowry (primarily money), and the bride uses the dowry to purchase household items. These items will be carried to the new home at the time of the marriage. Although polygamy (the practice of having multiple spouses) is permitted under Islamic custom, it is generally rare among the Kayu Agung.
What are their beliefs?
The Kayu Agung are almost totally Muslim. Islam is a religion based on five "pillars," or duties. These include affirming that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet;" praying five times daily; giving alms generously; fasting during the holy month of Ramadan; and making a pilgrimage to Mecca, if possible. However, since children are reared and educated in an Islamic environment, most are Muslims by birth, not by choice. Traditional law has been handed down from generation to generation, and there is a strong overlap with Islamic law. This tradition and cultural influence are the greatest barriers to evangelism.
What are their needs?
The Kayu Agung have no Christian resources available in their native language. In addition, there are no missions agencies working among them at the present time. Nevertheless, there is a handful of Kayu Agung believers. If this people group is to be significantly impacted with the Gospel, both the Bible and the Jesus film need to be translated into their language. Prayer for the believers and pioneer missions works will also be required if a strong church is to be planted among the Kayu Agung.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to call missionaries who will be willing to invest their lives in the Kayu Agung of Indonesia.
- Pray that the Bible and the Jesus film will be translated into the Kayu Agung language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Kayu Agung through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to draw key Kayu Agung leaders to the Cross of Jesus.
- Pray that signs and wonders will follow the Kayu Agung believers as they share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Kayu Agung bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Kayu Agung by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kayu Agung
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Kayu Agung
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 49
- 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: 9,900 (21%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 39,300 (79%)
- Country: Indonesia
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 113
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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