The Batin of Indonesia
The 70,000 Batin of Indonesia inhabit a portion of the Jambi province of Sumatra, the fourth largest island in the world. They live primarily in the rural communities and small district towns of Bangko, Tabir, Jangkat, Sungai Manau, Muara Bungo, and Rantau Pandan in the Sarolangun Bangko and Bungo Tebo regencies. This area borders one of the most treacherous sections of the rugged Bukit Barisan Mountains, which run the length of the island.
Temperatures are cool in the western hills, but in the valleys to the east, the climate is hot and humid. The forests abound with elephants, deer, tigers, and monkeys. The Batang Merangin, Batang Bungo and Batang Masumai Rivers provide a means for inter-village relationships.
The Batin culture and language have greatly influenced that of the Penghulu, who also live in the same regencies. Other neighboring indigenous groups are the Pindah and the more primitive Kubu/Anak Dalam.
What are their lives like?
The majority of the Batin make a living from farming or fishing. The greatest sources of income are derived from cinnamon, cloves, coconut, chocolate, and rubber. Many farmers also have gardens located some distance away and accessible only by foot. There they plant peppers, tomatoes, sugarcane, and fruit trees. Some of the Batin also dig for gold along the Batangasai River and are skilled in making gold trinkets. Others work in day labor, trade, home industries, public services, or government.
In Batin society, the wife's relatives play a more dominant role than do the husband's relatives. This is evident not only in the area of family inheritance but also in the realm of rights and responsibilities. Because the Batin value close relationships within the family and with their neighbors, they work together in every crisis and passage of life. They seek always to avoid divorce or separation. The poor give honor to the rich, and the rich give them assistance. There are two traditional devices still constructed together by Batin farmers. One is the kincir, which lifts water to a higher level for irrigation. The other is the sukam, a large fish trap. Everyone also assists in the garbuk, at which time the entire village is cleaned and put in order.
The Batin appoint a village leader who is referred to as Rio. He is responsible for planning village activities and ensuring the welfare of the people. He is assisted by the ninik mamak, a council made up of representatives of various interest groups in the community. The mosque is often used for official village meetings. The pasar (village market) periodically takes place at various points along the better-constructed roads.
What are their beliefs?
Research has not found even one non-Muslim Batin. Many of the youth, however, often skip Friday worship in the mosque. In addition, most Batin hold some non-Islamic religious convictions. These include beliefs in certain supernatural phenomena as well as in beings such as evil spirits and celestial creatures.
The Batin hold special religious rituals at each of life's passages, such as birth, marriage, and death. At those times, the Koran is quoted at length, and much advice is given. The keinigi (village religious leaders) are requested to participate, taking turns reading the holy verses and giving advice. Usually a meal follows. No Batin ever performs the rain or circumcision rituals alone. These and many other Islamic rituals are an integral part of Batin life.
What are their needs?
The physical needs of the Batin are many. They lack opportunities necessary for expanding their job skills. In addition, they need practical guidance to help develop their communities and land. The lack of availability of electricity and water continues to inhibit development in some areas. Spiritually, their needs are even greater. The Batin desperately need an understanding of the Gospel in a culturally relevant context. They also need a translation of the Jesus film and the New Testament in their own language. Above all, the Batin need exposure to genuine, loving Christians who are willing to live and work among them.
- Ask the Lord to send loving Christians who can share practical skills with the Batin of Indonesia.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to intervene and change government policies that prevent the Batin from hearing the Gospel.
- Pray that the Bible and the Jesus film will soon be translated into the Batin language.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Batin through dreams and visions.
- Ask God to save key leaders among the Batin who will openly declare Jesus as Lord.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Batin bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Batin.
- People name: Batin
- Country: Indonesia
- Their language: Batin
- Population: (1995) 70,000
- Largest religion: Muslim
- Christian: 0%
- Church members: 0
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Country: Indonesia
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 113
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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