The Pekal of Indonesia
The Pekal of Indonesia are a Malay people who live along the southwest-central shores and mountain slopes of Sumatra. One of the major islands of Indonesia, Sumatra is the fourth largest island in the world. The Pekal inhabit the Southern Muko-Muko district of the North Bengkulu region. More specifically, they can be found in the Teramang River Basin, a region that is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the southwest and the Barisan Mountains to the northeast.
Sometimes the Pekal have erroneously been referred to as the Ketahun, since several groups of Pekal have expanded south to the more accessible Ketahun district. The newly-paved Trans-Sumatran Highway runs along the western coast of the island and connects the city of Bengkulu to Padang, West Sumatra. Traversing Pekal territory, the highway passes directly through the heart of Ipuh, the largest town in the Southern Muko-Muko district.
What are their lives like?
The majority of the Pekal work as farmers or plantation workers during the wet season and as fishermen during the dry season. In their work, they use traditional, homemade devices and tools. Major products include coffee, rice, chocolate, tobacco, sweet potatoes, spices, peanuts, and various vegetables. Many people sell their products in the markets. Outside salesmen bring their wares only on specified days each week.
Many Pekal men are hired as government employees, teachers, builders, military personnel, skilled and common laborers, basket weavers, brick makers, cattlemen, and merchants. Pekal women work in the rice fields and dry the fish and shrimp. Less than 25% of the Pekal work force has more than an elementary education.
Pekal houses are built on stilts in the traditional Malay fashion. For protection and mutual support, villages are organized into several kaums, or sub-groups. If a newcomer wants to live among the Pekal, he is required to prepare a meal of chicken for not only the kaum among whom he will live but also for the members of other kaums. Once this occurs, he is officially registered as a local citizen, and the Pekal treat him impartially, regardless of his ethnic, religious, educational, or monetary status. A newcomer must abide by the customs and traditions of the kaum involved and must do his part as a member of the Pekal.
The Pekal only speak their unique Malay dialect when among other Pekal (usually at home or at the market). Also, in meetings held in rural areas, leaders speak Pekal when sharing with the people. At weddings, religious gatherings, and cultural events, it is the preferred language. Otherwise, the Pekal speak Indonesian.
What are their beliefs?
The Pekal are almost 100% Muslim. They scorn magical or superstitious beliefs concerning sacred or spirit-inhabited sites and objects. They sacrificially provide labor and material support for neighbors and relatives to hold traditional rituals related to marriage, circumcision, planting, and harvest. The Pekal help others because they know how dependent they are on others. Likewise, they are reluctant to perform any act that does not conform to existing patterns of belief and practice.
The Pekal hold Muslim ceremonies in which they request rainfall, chase away evil spirits, and cleanse villages where immorality has occurred. From their meager incomes, they generously distribute alms to the poor, aid to victims of natural disasters, and financial help for building mosques. They are extremely devout, both in attending worship and also in assisting with the community's needs.
What are their needs?
The greatest need of the Pekal is for an understanding of the Gospel in terms that are relevant to their culture. However, no Christian resources in their own language are available to them. Without access to the Truth, they will remain in spiritual bondage to Islam. Above all, the Pekal need loving Christians who are willing to share both their lives and faith with them.
- Ask the Lord to send missionaries to live and work among the Pekal of Indonesia.
- Pray that the Bible and evangelistic tools such as the Jesus film will soon be available in the Pekal language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Pekal towards the Gospel.
- Pray that God will supernaturally reveal Himself to the Pekal through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Pekal who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Pekal bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to raise up prayer teams who will intercede for God's mercy and intervention on behalf of the Pekal.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Pekal church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Pekal
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Pekal
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 30
- 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: 6,200 (19%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 26,600 (81%)
- Country: Indonesia
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 113
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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