The Komering of Indonesia
Sumatra, one of the major islands of Indonesia, is home to nearly 800,000 Komering people. They live in the southeastern part of the island, just east of the Barisan Mountains in the lowland areas. The Komering people are divided into two major groups: the Komering Ilur and the Komering Ulu. The Ilur are located around their central town of Kayuagung, while the Ulu live around the town of Baturaja.
Before the seventh century, the island of Sumatra was controlled by the powerful Buddhist kingdom of Sriwijaya. Later Buddhism was replaced by Islamic teachings which came to them through Indian and Malaysian traders.
Today 99 percent of the Komering claim to be Muslims, although animism (belief that non-human objects have spirits) is also prevalent. This Muslim-animist mixture has created a strong religious culture among the Komering people.
The primary language of the Komering is called Bahasa Komering; but the national language, Bahasa Indonesia, is also required learning in school.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The tropical island of Sumatra has a hot, humid climate with an average yearly temperature of about 27 degrees C (80 degrees F). The average rainfall is as much as 305 to 368 centimeters (120 to 145 inches) every year. The land, which is generally flat and swampy, is perfect for rice farming.
Among the Komering, the father is the head of his household and may have more than one wife. The wife is a homemaker who, together with her children, tends to the household chores.
Oil, coal, tin, and gold are some of the riches mined in southern Sumatra. While rice is the chief food crop, rubber is the leading agricultural export and their major cash crop.
Komering houses line the banks of the Komering River. These houses may only consist of a sleeping room and a large living room. The living room, which may also serve as the kitchen, usually contains a rectangular hearth filled with clay and ashes.
Their houses generally stand on stilts about 1.8 meters (6 feet) high. Families use the space underneath 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 diet of most Indonesians includes rice served with meat, fish, or vegetables. The meat is usually water buffalo, beef, or chicken. Pork is never eaten since it is forbidden to Muslims.
Traditional clothing is a colorful skirt, worn by both men and women, called a sarong.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Komering people, though heavily influenced by the teachings of Islam, remain very superstitious. These superstitions affect their lives in various degrees. For example, there are those who think that whistling indoors at night entertains demons. Others believe that walking around on your birthday will bring bad luck. Some copy verses from the Koran on a piece of paper, then hide them inside the charms they are wearing.
The faith of the Komering, which is a mixture of both Islam and animism, is tied closely to their identity. Breaking through this religious cultural barrier has proved to be extremely difficult. Christian Chinese businessmen living in the area, as well as Christians living on the nearby island of Java, have encountered much opposition to the Gospel from the Komering people.
Although the door to the Komering people appears to be closed, there has been one tiny ray of hope. A few neighboring Batak Christians have experienced a small amount of success in reaching the Komering with the Gospel. There is one Komering convert attending a Christian Batak church in the northern Sumatra region.
What Are Their Needs?
The physical needs of the Komering are numerous. One-third of the Komering are poor. Their houses are often in disrepair. There are very few chances for the Komering children to have a decent education.
Likewise, their spiritual needs are more than obvious. Fewer than one-fourth of the Komering people have ever heard the Gospel; those who have heard it have been very resistant.
- Pray against the spirits of Islam and animism that keep the Komering people bound in spiritual darkness.
- Pray that the government will grant favor to missionaries wanting to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Pray that the Christians of China, Batak, and Java will find favor with the Komering people as they share Christ with them.
- Ask God to raise up qualified laborers to translate the Bible into the Bahasa Komering language.
- Ask the Lord to raise up missionaries who are culturally sensitive to the Komering and who can effectively minister the Gospel to Muslims.
- Pray that God will prepare the hearts of the Komering people to receive the Gospel.
- Pray for the establishment of local churches among the Komering people.
- Ask the Lord to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Christians living near or among the Komering Muslims.
- Ask God to raise up Christian health-care personnel who can minister to the physical needs of these people.
- Pray that God will call Christian teachers to work among the Komering people.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Komering
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Komerin
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 153
- 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: 7
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 168,400 (22%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 596,400 (78%)
- 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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