Introduction / History There is some indication that the Palembangese are the descendants of Javanese and Chinese kingdom administrators, although the Chinese identity is not readily admitted. One acknowledged expert on the Palembangese, himself a descendant of kings, states that his people are the result of a melting pot effect that occurred along the banks of the Musi River years ago. Over the centuries Arabs, Asian Indians, Chinese, Javanese, and other Indonesian ethnic groups blended into one group called the Palembangese.
What are their lives like? Palembang is located on the banks of the Musi River on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Palembangese make up nearly one half of the city's population. The Palembangese are divided into two groups: the Wong Jeroo and the Wong Jabo. The Wong Jeroo are the descendants of royalty and lesser heroes of the ancient kingdoms that were centered in Palembang. The Wong Jabo are the commoners.
Many Palembangese are government workers. Other people are employed as small shop owners, market businessmen, factory workers, fishermen, manual laborers, educators, and craftsmen.
Palembang is a bustling industrial and communications center. Its wealth is based on its vast oil resources, which come from both raw oil and processed oil products. With proceeds from the large amounts of oil taken from the area, the Indonesian government's oil company has constructed a television station, a sports stadium, a clock tower, and elegant columns for the main mosque.
The limas (pyramid) style house is the most distinctive style of Palembangese architecture. The roof descends from a high peak and then slopes gently over a large, open front room. Many limas style houses, as well as other styles, sit on stilts, in order to protect the inhabitants from the frequent floods. Many Palembangese still live over the water of the Musi River as they have for centuries.
Palembangese families are patriarchal (ruled by the father). The wife's responsibility is to maintain the order and harmony of the home so that the husband can say, "My home is my heaven." Families greatly desire male children. The grandparents on both sides of the family consider a grandson's birth to be a strengthening of their power and a guarantee of the continuation of their line of descendants.
What are their beliefs? Nearly all Palembangese are Muslim. Despite their Islamic religion, they ultimately respect tradition more highly. In their daily lives, they hold to the belief that "tradition is to be held in one's lap, and Islamic law is to be held in high esteem." They remain proud of their traditions, as well as of the fact that even those with high educational achievements strongly maintain Palembangese customs.
What are their needs? Unemployment and under-employment seem to be a problem with many lower class Palembangese. The Palembangese are known as a proud people who will not do manual labor, if they can find any way to avoid it. This factor may contribute to their high jobless rate. In recent years, Indonesia has begun to develop a national culture, and many Palembangese fear that this could lead to the erosion of their own ethnic identity.
A sense of spiritual oppression exists among the Palembangese. Many of them feel destined to a hopeless existence in a crowded and impoverished situation. The Palembangese need to hear the truth about the one God who alone has the power to save them.
Prayer Points * Pray that God will call many people around the world to pray for the Palembangese.
* Pray for gospel recordings and gospel radio to be made available to the Palembangese.
* Ask the Lord of the harvest to send more long-term workers to the Palembangese.
* Pray that the Lord will anoint new converts among the Palembangese and use them to reach their own people.
* Ask the Lord to bless and protect the efforts of those seeking to reach the Palembangese.
* Pray that the Lord will raise up a strong local church among the Palembangese. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.