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Prayer Profile
The Buol of Indonesia

[IMAGE] Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world, and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse cultures in the world, and the Buol are one of the more than 300 distinct people groups living there.

The 82,000 Buol are considered to be a sub-group of the Gorontalo people. Although formerly mountain dwellers, they now live in scattered villages along the northeastern peninsula of Sulawesi. This large crab-shaped island is generally mountainous and marked by volcanic cones. Tropical rain forests are also characteristic of the island. Sulawesi is located in the Pacific Ocean directly south of the Philippines.

The Buol region has a history of the rising and falling of insignificant kingdoms. These kingdoms would occasionally ban together in times of war to form a larger and more powerful army. Their brief unity would help secure a victory over their enemies.

What Are Their Lives Like?
To the east of the Buol are the neighboring Minahasans of Minado Island. The Minahasans have been strongly influenced by Dutch colonization and Christian education. As a result, they have been converted to Christianity. Unfortunately, however, the Buol have remained devout Muslims and are largely unevangelized. There seem to be many barriers of prejudice between the two groups. There are no native Buol churches, and local Christians are frightened to reach out to the Muslim Buols for fear of persecution.

Rice, maize, and the fruit of sago palms are important food sources to the Buols. Yams and grain are secondary crops, and coconut is grown commercially. Nets, traps, and harpoons are used for fishing in the lakes. Rattan (a type of palm) and damar (trees grown for timber) are gathered for sale. Cattle are commonly used for pulling heavy loads and horses for riding.

Indonesia has more than 8 million farmers who are without land. To aid in this situation, the government offers free land, housing, and other assistance to those who are willing to move from overcrowded areas, such as Java, to less developed islands.

Buol marriages follow the Muslim pattern and are arranged by a “go between.” This middleman has the responsibility of negotiating the bride price for the groom, an amount which is determined by the girl’s social status. Although cross cousin marriages are preferred, parallel cousin marriages do sometimes occur. Once married, a couple usually lives with the bride’s mother until the first child is born. Then the couple leaves to establish their own independent household. Each spouse owns property separately, and only the land obtained after marriage becomes mutual property.

What Are Their Beliefs?
Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia today and is practiced by nearly 85% of the population. Virtually all the Buol are Sunni Muslims, although many of their ritual ceremonies and practices are actually a mixture of several religions.

Hinduism is practiced by only 2% of the Indonesian population, and about 8% are Protestant Christians. “Animism,” the belief that non-living objects have spirits, is also practiced by tribes in remote areas.

What Are Their Needs?
There is only a handful of known believers among the Buol. Unfortunately, they have very few of the resources that are needed for church growth or evangelization.

Presently, there are no Christian films or broadcasts in the Buol language. Although there is one mission agency targeting the Buol, there are only 16 reported church members in this region. Sadly, there are no Scriptures written in their native language.

The Buol have the freedom to choose to follow Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity. However, the large Muslim population has strong political influence. They use their power to limit Christian expansion and reduce Christian influence in public life.

Prayer Points
  • Pray against the spirit of Islam that has kept the Buol bound for many generations.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to the island of Sulawesi and share Christ with the Buol.
  • Pray that God will raise up loving Indonesian Christians to reach out to their Muslim neighbors.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Buol Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Buol language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Buol Muslims towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will supply Christian resources such as radio, television, and literature to help evangelize the Buol.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Buol.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Buol
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Buol
  • Population: (1990) 75,800
    (1995) 81,900
    (2000) 88,200
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 16
  • 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: 18,000 (22%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,500 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 15,500 (19%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 63,900 (78%)
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Population: (1990) 182,811,600
    (1995) 197,587,700
    (2000) 212,730,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Javanese 26.2%
    Javanese Indonesian 10.7%
    Sudanese 10.6%
    Sudanese Indonesian 3.1%
  • Major religions: Muslim 43.7%
    New Religionist 35%
    Christian 13%
  • Number of denominations: 113

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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