Introduction / History
The tiny Baras tribe is unengaged and unreached, which means that there are few if any believers among them and no Christian workers. They live on the east coast of the island of Sulawesi in the nation of Indonesia. The Baras make their living by agriculture and fishing.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Baras speak their own language, Baras. The Baras language and culture may disappear in the next few years. Young Baras are learning Bahasa Indonesian, the national language.
Indonesia gained its freedom from the Netherlands in 1949. It is the largest Muslim majority country in the world as well as the fourth largest nation by population. Indonesia consists of over 17,000 islands of which 10,000 are inhabited. Indonesia has oil, natural gas and mineral assets but the average Baras person frequently does not benefit from the nation's wealth.
Some of young adult Baras are leaving the villages and seeking a better life in Indonesian cities. Some young people are marrying outside the Baras and are absorbed in neighboring tribes. The Baras live much like their ancestors fishing in the sea and growing rice, maize, coconuts, fruits and vegetables. Life revolves around the village. Elders make judicial decision and deal with outsiders. Houses are built on stilts for protection against flooding. The Baras trade their surplus farm products and fish for cell phones and appliances. Most villages have a few chickens and goats to supplement Baras' diets.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Baras are primarily an oral culture. Their traditions and culture are passed on by means of songs, poems, dances and art work. Some of the men have a working knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian so they can communicate with outsiders. Until recently the Baras married within their group. Now because of their declining numbers, young people often seek spouses from other tribes. Families tend to be large. Children are seen as blessings from Allah. It is the sons' responsibility to take care of their elderly parents. Many children die before their tenth birthday due to the lack of modern medicine.
The primary religion practiced by the Baras is Islam, a monotheistic religion built around the teachings of the Koran and of the prophet Mohammad. The Baras' Islam is heavily influenced by folk religion and animism. The village shaman connects the Baras with the spirit world. The Baras believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as trees, hills, rivers, mountains, animals and the sky. The shaman provides charms and performs rituals to protect the Baras from the evil spirits.
What Are Their Needs?
Muslims are taught at a young age that they have the perfect religious system and the perfect law, spelled out for them in the Koran. Before most of them have any contact with Christ followers they are taught that the Bible has been corrupted and that Jesus did not pay for our sins by dying on the cross. There are few if any followers of Christ among the Baras. There are currently no Christian resources available in the Baras language.
The Baras need to understand that Isa or Jesus is more than a human prophet. He alone can forgive their sins and free them from the fear of evil spirits.
There are several Christian people groups that live on Sulawesi Island that can reach out to this small people group. The Baras people need someone to live out the gospel in their midst.
Ask the Lord to send workers to the Baras.
Pray for believers to have the boldness, love, compassion, and courage to take Christ to the Baras people of Sulawesi.
Pray that there will soon be a disciple making movement among them that will transform their communities and help them flourish as a people.
Pray that the Bible and other resources to be translated into the Baras language.
Scripture Prayers for the Baras in Indonesia.