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The Muna of Indonesia

[IMAGE] Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world with more than 300 distinct people groups. Indonesia is located in southeast Asia and contains more than 3,000 islands. The 248,000 Muna inhabit the sandy, coral island of Muna, which lies off the southeastern coast of Sulawesi.

The Muna are closely related to the Butonese, and like them, once belonged to the sultanate of Butung. The sultanate included Butung, Muna, Kabaena, and other small islands. In 1910, the Muna came under Dutch rule. Since that time, the peoples of this region have experienced many cultural changes due to Buginese domination and exploitation by the Dutch.

Today, the various peoples who inhabit the islands off southeastern Sulawesi speak related languages and share a common culture. They are closely associated with the Mori-Laki, who live on the adjacent mainland.

What are their lives like?
In the past, the Sultan of Butung ruled the Muna through a hierarchy of advisors and officials. Local chiefs, who were selected from the families of their predecessors, lived in the capital. The Muna came under Dutch rule from 1910 until 1949.

Today, Muna society is divided into various classes: the Kaoem (upper class nobility), the Wakale (lower class nobility), and the Mardeka (commoners), followed by a class of slaves and their descendants. Each class is entitled to certain privileges, ornaments, clothing, and songs.

Indonesia has more than eight million farmers who do not own their own land. The government offers free land, housing, and other assistance to farmers who are willing to move from the overcrowded islands of Java, Bali, and Madura to the less developed islands. The Muna farmers generally use the "slash and burn" method of agriculture. They raise maize, sweet potatoes, sugar cane, vegetables, tobacco, and coffee.

The island of Muna is divided into village territories. The right to cultivate land is administered by the village council, since the council retains ultimate ownership of all the land. Houses are scattered among the fields and are usually built on piles. They are constructed of plaited grasses and have very high roofs.

When a young Muna couple becomes engaged, the groom's family makes payments to the girl's family. Additional payments are also made at the wedding ceremony. The bride-price depends on the social rank of the groom. Prior to marriage, the young man is also required to work for a certain period of time for his prospective in-laws. These customs have given rise to a high rate of elopement.

In the past, slaves and their descendants were not permitted to marry each other; however, living together was accepted. Polygyny (having multiple wives) was common among some of the upper class nobility, but is rarely practiced today.

What are their beliefs?
Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia today and is practiced by a majority of the population. Before the fourteenth century, Hinduism was widespread in the area, but is now practiced by only a small number of people. About 14% of Indonesia's population is Christian, primarily Protestant; and many Chinese follow Buddhist-Taoist teachings. Animistic religions (belief that non-living objects have spirits) are followed by tribes in remote areas.

The Muna are virtually all Sunni Muslim, though traditional beliefs are still important, particularly the belief in evil spirits.

What are their needs?
The nearly 2,500 Muna Christians in Indonesia represent only 1% of their total population. These believers find it very difficult to penetrate the strong Islamic influence of their culture.

Currently, only one missions agency is working among the Muna. The Bible has not yet been translated into Muna and there are no Christian broadcasts begin aired in the Muna language. Most of the Muna have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Prayer is the key to seeing them reached for Christ.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to the island of Muna and share Christ with these precious people.
  • Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will soon be made available in the Muna language.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Muna towards the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Muna through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Muna who will boldly proclaim the Gospel.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Muna bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Indonesia through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Muna.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Muna
  • Country: Indonesia
  • Their language: Muna (Wuna)
  • Population: (1990) 229,500
    (1995) 248,000
    (2000) 267,000
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Sunni) 99%
  • Christians: 1%
  • Church members: 2,480
  • 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: 42,200 (17%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 17,400 (7%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 24,800 (10%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 205,800 (83%)
  • 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%
    Madurese 10.7%
    Sudanese Indonesian 3.1%
    Han Chinese 2.6%
  • Major religions: Muslims 43.7%
    New-Religionists 35%
    Christians 13%
    Ethnic religionists 2.6%
    Hindus 1.9%
    Nonreligious 1.9%
    Buddists 1%
  • Number of denominations: 113

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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