The Ogan of Indonesia
The 327,800 Ogan live in the southern part of Sumatra, the fourth largest island in the world. They inhabit sections of South Sumatra Province along the course of the Ogan River. This river runs from the slopes of the Bukit Barisan ("Marching Hills") Mountains on the southwest to the provincial capital of Palembang on the northeast. Locally, the Ogan are often referred to as the "Pegagan," a people indigenous to this area of Indonesia.
The geographic center of Ogan life is the city of Baturaja. Both the trans-Sumatran highway and the Lampung-Palembang railroad pass through this city. The name "Ogan" has been given to three of the six districts in the province: upstream Ogan-Komering, downstream Ogan-Komering, and midstream Ogan-Lematang. This fact indicates the importance of the Ogan in South Sumatra. There are several mutually intelligible Ogan dialects. These include Enim, Musi, Rawas, and Ogan proper.
What are their lives like?
Agriculture is the principal economic activity of the Ogan. Rice, rubber, and coffee are the main crops cultivated. Wet rice plots are still worked mostly by water buffalo. Planting is done by groups of five to ten people, working either for wages or as a part of a rotating work group. Harvesting is done by mixed-sex work groups or by the farming family.
Ogan villages usually contain from 300 to 400 households. Dwellings are generally single-family structures of three or four rooms. The houses are raised on stilts, with the lower part being used for storage or trade. In upstream Ogan territory, specific skills are associated with particular villages. In addition, each village has stories of its founding and conversion to Islam that set it apart from other villages.
Two types of marriage arrangements are practiced among the Ogan. If a man pays a bride-price to the woman's family, the couple's residence is established in the groom's household. Consequently, all children will be considered a part of the man's lineage. If no bride-price is paid, the groom becomes a part of the bride's household, with the lineage of the children traced through the woman's family. Ogan children are cared for by both parents and are viewed as essential. Sons or daughters who remain in their parents' household immediately following marriage must assume responsibility for caring for younger dependents, preserving family land or other wealth, and contributing to ritual feasts.
What are their beliefs?
The Ogan have been Sunni Muslims since the sixteenth century. At the close of the nineteenth century, they were introduced to Sufi tarekat (mystical) beliefs and practices. Today, they participate in all standard Islamic celebrations and tend to scorn animistic practices (belief that non-human objects have spirits). Mosques serve as formal religious centers in the villages, and most men attend Friday prayers, at least some of the time. Public prayers often invoke the blessing of Allah on the plans of village officials. Sedekahs are held to celebrate births, commemorate deaths, ward off danger, or give thanks for crops. During these ceremonies, the assembled community performs incantations that are directed to the spirits of dead ancestors. The ancestors are believed to pass on the pahala (merit) of the prayer to Allah. The return is a blessing by Allah for the subject of the ritual: a newborn child, a crop, or the spirit of the recently deceased.
What are their needs?
The Ogan would greatly benefit from practical help in upgrading their productivity as farmers, woodworkers, and metalworkers. Spiritually, their greatest need is for an understanding of the Gospel in terms that are relevant to their culture. However, no Christian resources in their own language are available to them. Without access to the Truth, they will remain in spiritual bondage to the closed, legalistic, religious system of Islam. Above all, the Ogan need exposure to genuine Christians who are committed to sharing both their lives and faith with them.
- Ask the Lord to send loving Christians who are willing to invest their lives in the Ogan of Indonesia.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, the Jesus film, and evangelistic literature will be made available to the Ogan.
- Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists who will be able to translate the Bible into the Ogan language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Ogan through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will save key leaders among the Ogan who will openly confess Jesus as Lord.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Ogan bound.
- Ask God to raise up faithful intercessors who will daily stand in the gap for the Ogan.
- Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Ogan.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Ogan
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Ogan
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 0%
- Church members: 0
- 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: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 39,300 (12%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 288,500 (88%)
- 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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