The Balinese of Indonesia
Nearly 3.5 million Balinese inhabit the island of Bali, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands in southern Indonesia. Bali is a scenic mountainous region with a tropical climate and fertile soil. It is sometimes referred to as "the Jewel of the East." The island is separated from Java by the narrow Bali Strait. Its highest peak is Mount Abung, which rises to more than 10,000 feet.
The Balinese are descendants of the Malay race. In the fifteenth century, the Dutch invaded the island of Bali, killing the Balinese prince. In 1906, the Dutch once again attacked Bali, killing about 3,600 Balinese and taking control of the island. The Dutch maintained control of Bali until World War II, when the Indonesian troops fought for possession of the island. Indonesia was victorious and Bali became a part of Indonesia in 1950. Today, the Balinese society is divided into classes of priests, the military, the ruling royalty, and merchants.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Balinese are farmers. Rice is their principal crop, but coffee, fruits, and a variety of vegetables are also grown. Each farm is about two and a half acres in size. In addition to farming, the Balinese economy is partially dependent on tourism and the sale of the various handicrafts.
The Balinese live in small farm villages. Every village has its own Hindu temple and assembly hall that are located in the village square. The square is often used for religious festivals. The village marketplace is also located there.
The Balinese are a dignified people who regularly express reverence to their Hindu gods. The ornately carved shrines in their homes and in the temples, are dedicated to the Hindu deity, Shiva ("the destroyer"). Prayer offerings are made to Shiva at every corner.
The Balinese have a very rich culture that is centered around the Hindu religion. The people also have a deep passion for music, poetry, and dancing. They are well known for their unique religious festivals, folk drama, and architecture.
Within each village, Balinese families live in separate compounds that are surrounded by clay or stone walls. The Balinese society is patrilineal, which means that the line of descent is traced through the males. The islanders generally marry within their own villages.
What are their beliefs?
While most Indonesians are Muslims, 80% of the Balinese are Hindus. They first embraced Hinduism in the seventh century A.D. when the mother of a Javanese ruler married a Balinese king. This union caused many Javanese Hindus to migrate to Bali. Today, the Balinese lifestyle remains centered around religion.
Most of the Balinese Hindus belong to the Saivite sect. They believe that after the body dies, the soul is reborn, or "reincarnated." The law of "karma" states that every action influences how the soul will be born in the next reincarnation. If a person lives a good life, his soul will be born into a higher state. However, if he leads an evil life, his soul will be born into a lower state, perhaps into the body of a worm. The Balinese cremate their dead in order to "liberate their souls" for the journey into the next life. This is a highly celebrated tradition among them.
Approximately 15% of the Balinese practice a syncretistic (or blended) form of ethnic religions. They believe in spirits and magic, and also practice ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for help and guidance).
What are their needs?
Presently, there are nine missions agencies working among the Balinese of Indonesia; however, they remain less than one percent Christian. Those who convert to Christianity are commonly cast off by their families and society. Many of the Balinese believers have suffered persecution for their faith in Christ. Though culturally rich, the Balinese are spiritually poor. Prayer is the key to reaching them with the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Pray that God will send additional Christian laborers to work among the Balinese of Indonesia.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the believers living in Bali.
- Pray that the Balinese believers will have opportunities to share the Gospel with their own people.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Balinese so that they might receive the Gospel when it is presented to them.
- Pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Balinese bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
- Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Balinese.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Balinese
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Bali
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 1%
- Church members: 36,147
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 9
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 1,688,600 (49%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 1,754,000 (51%)
- 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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