Introduction / History
The homeland of the Uma people is the forest-covered mountains near the Lariang River in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. The Umas are primarily agriculturalists. Rice and corn are their main food crops, coffee and cacao are their main cash crops. In pre-contact times the Umas were animists and known as occasional headhunters. In 1917 the Salvation Army began church-planting work among Umas. In the decades immediately after WWII they established churches and elementary schools in most Uma villages. Today nearly all the Umas are professing Christians, and many are true believers.
But animistic beliefs and fears still are a part of life for many. The church pervades the Umas' social life, but there is a need for personal faith, spiritual growth and moral transformation. The Uma New Testament was published in 1996 and has been widely distributed in some villages, but the personal use of the Scriptures is low for most Umas. The Umas, along with some neighboring mountain people groups such as Moma, Napu, Besoa, and Bada, are Christian minorities surrounded by large people groups that are predominantly Muslim. Most Uma villages are a day's walk from the nearest car road, though motorcycles are now able to reach some of the central villages. But thanks to the efforts of the Salvation Army the level of health, nutrition and education is higher than one would expect in such remote villages.
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