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Prayer Profile
The Jakun of Malaysia

[IMAGE] The Jakun are a group of native Malays who inhabit the southern section of the Malaysian peninsula. They are located primarily on the upper reaches of the Pahang and Johore Rivers. The geography of this region ranges from wet, swampy terrain to dense, tropical jungles. High humidity and seasonal monsoons characterize the climate.

The Jakun are lighter- skinned than the Negroid tribes of the area, but darker-skinned than the tribes of Asian descent. They are a short people with long, sloping foreheads and small faces. Although they are said to be mild and kind, they are also very shy.

Despite their dislike of outsiders, the Jakun interact quite frequently with the tribes and settlements around them. They trade with the Negroid and Chinese people of the area, and sometimes even intermarry with them. Still, the Jakun have managed to retain a unique culture of their own.

What are their lives like?
The Jakun are considered to be one of the most primitive tribes in the southern lowlands of Malaysia. They live a mainly nomadic lifestyle as roaming farmers, hunters, gatherers, and traders. In farming, they practice the "slash and burn" method of agriculture. This entails cutting down the tropical vegetation and burning it. In the resulting top soil, they plant their crops, usually rice or cassava. After a season or two, they then move to another piece of land and begin the same process all over again.

The Jakun hunt wild deer, pigs, snakes, monkeys, and fish. They use spears, traps, nets, and blow-pipes to catch their prey. In particular, the wooden blow-pipe is expertly made. An inner tube is precisely crafted and then enclosed in a larger tube. The dart is made from the rib of a palm branch and is sharpened to an exact caliber. The tip is then dipped in poison. With their blow-pipes, the Jakun can shoot with deadly accuracy from thirty yards away.

The Jakun trade with the surrounding peoples in order to get necessary or desired items. With the Chinese, they trade rattan wax, wood, resin, and camphor for Chinese tobacco, tapioca, clothing, and other items. Sometimes they will make their own loincloths from tree bark rather than trade for clothing.

As a rule, the Jakun are monogamous (having one spouse), and divorce is extremely rare. In cases of adultery, death can be the punishment. To kill the unfaithful wife, the husband ties her down in front of their hut. Then he hides in the bushes with three spears. The wife's lover must try to free the wife and return her to her husband's hut. If the husband throws a spear and kills the lover, he can either spare his wife's life or kill her. If the lover succeeds in bringing the wife back to the husband's hut, then the husband can not kill her but can send her away. This punishment for adultery is an option only for men. Women cannot impose the same action upon their husbands.

What are their beliefs?
The Jakun are animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits). As such, they are very superstitious. When a woman is pregnant, the husband must not leave the woman's sight. If he does, they believe the child will be lame. Also, the parents can not eat deer meat until the child begins to walk, or again, they believe that the child will become lame, or that its belly will swell.

Good and evil spirits rule the Jakun world. Consequently, they often live in fear. They have been known to burn the house of someone who died and then relocate the entire village in order to escape evil. The Jakun try to protect themselves from evil spirits by putting up bamboo "wind chimes" and by wearing combs and certain necklaces. Sometimes, the Minteri, or minister, casts spells to appease the spirits.

What are their needs?
The Jakun have no Christian resources available to them. They are hopelessly trapped in their ancient religion. Full-time missionaries, Christian radio broadcasts, the Jesus film, and especially the Scriptures in their language are desperately needed. Prayer is the first step toward seeing them reached with the Gospel.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to raise up missionaries who will take the Gospel to the Jakun of Malaysia.
  • Pray for the production of the Jesus film in the Jakun language.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Jakun.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Jakun through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will give the Jakun believers opportunities to share Christ with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Jakun bound for many generations.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to establish strong local churches among the Jakun.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Jakun
  • Country: Malaysia
  • Their language: Jakun (Orang Hulu)
  • Population: (1990) 12,400
    (1995) 14,000
    (2000) 15,000
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 99%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 140
  • 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: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 2,800 (20%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,000 (8%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 1,800 (12%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,200 (80%)
  • Country: Malaysia
  • Population: (1990) 17,891,500
    (1995) 20,139,900
    (2000) 22,298,700
  • Major peoples in size order: Malay 33.2%
    Han Chinese (Hokkien) 8.7%
    Tamil 7.2%
    Han Chinese (Hakka) 7.1%
  • Major religions: Muslim 50.5%
    Chinese folk-religionist 24.3%
    Christian 8.9%
  • Number of denominations: 41

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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