Introduction / History
Sulawesi, one of the major islands of Indonesia, is a home to the Mori (also known as the Aikoa). Sulawesi is a large, crab-shaped island that is generally mountainous and marked by volcanic cones. Tropical rain forests cover most of the land up to 1,000 feet in elevation, with dense forests occurring at higher altitudes. Due to the volcanic activity, deep valleys and gorges can also be seen throughout the area.
Mori villages are built with the village temple in the center. The Mori have a strong loyalty to their tribe, which is made up of several villages having a common "mother" village. If one village is endangered, it is the duty of the rest of the tribal members to protect it.
Although agriculture is the principal means of livelihood in the region, ironwood and ebony are also valuable commodities. Sulawesian industry varies from wood carving and rice milling to the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
What are their lives like?
The island of Sulawesi has a hot, humid climate with an average yearly temperature of about 27 degrees C (80 degrees F). The average yearly rainfall is from 305 to 368 centimeters (120 to 145 inches). Most of the Mori are wet-rice farmers, although they also grow maize, tobacco, and coffee for export. Some Mori are blacksmiths who are particularly skilled at making swords. Their primary diet consists of fish, rice, and maize.
Within the Mori tribes, aristocratic rulers head up the political hierarchy, with elders leading local "kin groups." These rulers were once thought to be divine, but this belief has faded over the years. Traditionally, the Mori went on headhunting raids against their enemies. Heads were also required to maintain general village welfare, as well as for the building of new temples. Until as recently as 1905, headhunting was a common practice.
Most of the Mori live in houses that have only a sleeping room and a large living room. The living room may, which may also serve as the kitchen, usually contains a rectangular hearth filled with clay and ashes. These houses often stand on stilts about 1.8 meters (6 feet) high. The space underneath is used for cattle stalls or chicken coops, or to store tools and firewood. The floors and walls are made of timber or flattened bamboo. The roofs are covered with either clay tiles or with thatch made out of palm leaves.
The Mori are a very festive people and are famous for their traditional dances. Their art forms, such as wood carvings and weaving, are also well known. A colorful skirt called a sarong is typically worn by both the men and women.
What are their beliefs?
The Mori follow the beliefs of Islam, but with a strong core of spirit worship. Some of the more important deities that they worship are associated with smallpox, rice, air, and fate. When an important person dies, his bones are cleaned and put into caves at the tewusa or death feast. Then every three to five years, another ceremony called the woke" is held to honor these deceased ancestors. Here, the bones of the honored dead are removed from the caves, rewrapped, and buried. Such ceremonies are usually conducted by a priestess who has a familiar spirit.
What are their needs?
Although there is a Christian church in central Sulawesi, it is not known whether there are any current Christian outreaches being done among the Mori. Although the New Testament has been available in their language since 1948, it is now out of print. Another problem that the Mori language has two distinct dialects. Translations must be done in both of them so that all of the Mori may be reached with the Gospel.
The Mori, a people whose lives and worship center around the dead, must be shown the life-giving power of the Gospel. Their focus must be turned toward life, which can only be found in Jesus Christ.
* Ask God to raise up missionaries who are culturally sensitive to the Mori and who can effectively minister the Gospel to Muslims.
* Pray that God will strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of believers who live among the Mori.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to give the Sulawesian churches a burden to reach their Muslim neighbors.
* Pray that the Sulawesian government will open its doors to Christian missionaries so that the Gospel may be preached freely to the Mori.
* Pray that the Lord will raise up a strong church among the Mori.