Introduction / History 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 several hundred distinct people groups, many of whom are Muslim. Located in Southeast Asia, the many islands of Indonesia command vital sea routes between Australia, Europe, and the Asian mainland.
The Kelingi are located in the south-central part of the island of Sumatra along the Bukit Barisan Mountains. Historically, they were probably a people of coastal Borneo who expanded into Sumatra as a result of their trading and seafaring way of life. Their culture has been strongly influenced by other peoples, including the Siamese, Javanese, and Sumatrans. The Kelingi are close neighbors to the Pasemah people groups, which include the Semendau and the Lematang. They speak Sindan Kelingi, which is an Austronesian language.
What are their lives like? Indonesian culture is a mixture of many diverse civilizations. Hinduism and Buddhism from India exerted a profound influence on the Indonesian way of life, leaving a strong imprint on the architectural structures and of the country. Arabic influence in Indonesia has been promoted since the thirteenth century, mainly through the teachings of Islam. The islands have also been affected by Southeast Asian and Polynesian cultures, as well as the influx of the Chinese and the Dutch.
Most Indonesians are farmers. Their major food crops include corn, root crops, vegetables, and rice. In Sumatra, products grown for export are ramie, kapok, and sisal fibers (all fiber plants); rubber; tobacco; tea; coffee; palm oil; peanuts; pepper; copra (dried coconut meat yielding oil); and betel nuts (seeds from the betel palm). In the mountains, vegetables are also grown.
The Kelingi are a rural people, living in villages of 50 to 1,000 people. Much of the country is covered by jungle, but the villages are located along the coasts, rivers, and roadways. Within their villages, the Kelingi build houses on stilts raised four to eight feet off the ground.
Farming is the primary occupation of the Kelingi. Rubber is the main cash crop, but coffee and rice are also grown. Wet-rice plots are worked by hoeing, or by plowing with oxen or water buffalo. Planting and harvesting are usually done by either hired work groups or by the extended families. Farmers often use tractors in cultivating their crops. They set aside part of their proceeds from their harvests for several years, then buy their tractors from the government.
Since most of the people make their living from farming, major ceremonies are usually held after the harvest. These events include marriages, circumcisions, and hair cutting ceremonies. Every family in the village participates in such activities because of their strong feeling of community.
Kelingi families do not usually live together as extended family units. Instead, each family tries to have its own separate home. Newlywed couples may temporarily live with their parents, but they prefer to have their own homes as soon as possible.
Kelingi women wear cotton sarongs (loose skirts made of long strips of cloth wrapped around the body) with long-sleeved cotton blouses. They also wear skirts over trousers, jackets, and scarves; they do not wear veils. Men wear Western-style cotton shirts and slacks.
What are their beliefs? Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Indonesian constitution. Islam, in various forms, is the dominant faith of the country. In fact, Indonesia is the largest Islamic community in the world. The Kelingi are almost completely Muslim, with the remainder following traditional ethnic religions.
What are their needs? The Kelingi do not have any Christian resources in their own language. Intercession and pioneer missions works must be undertaken to reach the Kelingi with the Gospel.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers who can minister to the Kelingi in culturally relevant ways.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Kelingi towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask God to strengthen, embolden, and protect the few Kelingi believers.
* 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 Kelingi. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.