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Gayo in Indonesia


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Gayo in Indonesia map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
340,000 Gayo Islam 0.03 % 0.01 % No No   

Gayo in Indonesia

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Introduction / History
The Gayo live in the isolated central mountains of Aceh province on the island of Sumatera. Their homeland lies in the Bukit Barisan Range ("Parade of Mountains") which has elevations of over 12,000 feet and extends more than one thousand miles. Most Gayo live in the Central Aceh and Southeast Aceh regencies. The Gayo language has four dialects: Lut, Serbejadi-Lukup, Lut and Luwes. Their language does not have a writing system, but folk tales, stories and poetry are passed down in oral tradition. The Gayo are close neighbors to the strongly Islamic Aceh people. In the past, the sultans of Aceh conquered the Gayo region and made the Gayo slaves. After the initial Dutch resistance (during which many Gayo were killed), the Dutch occupied the area from 1904-1942. During this time, the Gayo developed a thriving cash crop economy in vegetables and coffee. During the occupation and during the last several decades of Indonesian independence, the Gayo have gained access to higher levels of education and participated to some degree in the Islamization and modernization of their area.

Where are they located?
They live in the and around the Gayo Highlands of Central Aceh. They have also embraced survivors of the Aceh Civil War and the 2004 Tsunami.

What are their lives like?
Their main source of income is coffee, growing Arabica coffee, which is often referred to as the very best Arabica and Luwak coffee. They are very poor and uneducated. From their traditional dances one can see the root and greatest challenge they face, namely suicide (all ages) due to hopelessness.

What are their beliefs?
Most Gayo are Muslims, but lacking orthodox understanding of the religion. Many Gayo people believe in good and bad spirits and in holy men, both dead and alive. They regularly give ritual offerings and sacrifices to the spirits, to holy men and to their ancestors. The Gayo people broke away from the Batak Karo people of North Sumatra, because the Batak Karo people are Christians and the people of Gayo are Muslim.

What are their needs?
The Gayo need medical workers to improve the low understanding of health matters. The Gayo also need help in overcoming erosion and dangerous landslides, which at times block important transportation routes in their area. They need more investors to save them from the corrupt buyers enslaving them with in debt and forcing the coffee farmers to sell to them alone. They need quality education systems and health care.

Prayer Points
Pray for people to show Jesus to the gentle-hearted Gayo people desperately searching for hope and life.
* Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.
* Pray for Gospel messages to become available in audio format for this people group.

Additional information from personal correspondence.

View Gayo in all countries.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-06-28
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Country: Indonesia
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
Persecution Rank:49 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Aceh Province, Central Aceh, East Aceh, Gayo Lues, and Southeast Aceh regencies. North Sumatra highland region near Mount Sembuang.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Gayo
People Name General: Gayo
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 103264
Joshua Project People ID: 11837
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 340,000
Population all Countries: 340,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
People Cluster: Aceh of Sumatra
People Name General: Gayo
Ethnic Code: MSY44b
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Gayo (340,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): gay    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.03 %(Evangelical: 0.01 %)
Ethnic Religions5.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam94.97 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant80.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic20.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
None Reported
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Gayo in Indonesia

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Aceh of Sumatra     Asia, Southeast    
      Gayo Indonesia    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Gayo in Indonesia          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Gayo  
    All Religions                              

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