Introduction / History
The tiny Baras tribe lives on the east coast of the island of Sulawesi in the nation of Indonesia. They make their living by agriculture and fishing. They speak the Da'a Kaili language, but young Baras are learning Bahasa, the national language of Indonesia. Due to this and to the very small size of the people group, the Baras culture and language are endangered.
What Are Their Lives Like?
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. They pass on traditions by means of songs, poems, dances and artwork. Some of the men have a working knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian so they can communicate with outsiders. The Baras see children as blessings from Allah, so they tend to have large families. The sons are responsible to take care of elderly parents. Unfortunately, many of the children die before their tenth birthday due to the lack of modern medicine.
Until recently the Baras married within their group. Now because of their declining numbers, young people often seek spouses from other tribes. Some young adult Baras are leaving the villages to seek a better life in the cities of Indonesia. These factors, together with the mortality rate from lack of medicine and learning the Bahasa language, combine to endanger the Baras as a distinct people group.
The Baras are primarily Muslims, but (like many Muslim peoples in Indonesia) they also practice 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. This indoctrination creates significant barriers to the gospel.
The Baras need improved healthcare and medical facilities. With the trend toward assimilation into the Bahasa language and with younger people moving to the cities, the Baras - a very small people group - are at a crossroads regarding maintaining a distinct culture.
The New Testament and the JESUS Film are available in the Da'a Kaili language.
Pray that God will dispel the falsehoods that the Baras have been taught about Christianity and about the Bible and will turn their hearts toward the person of Jesus.
Ask the Lord to send workers to the Baras from among the Christian people groups on Sulawesi Island, especially workers with healthcare knowledge and skills.
Pray for opportunities to show the JESUS Film among the Baras.
Pray for a disciple making movement among the Baras that will transform their communities and help them flourish as a people.
Scripture Prayers for the Baras in Indonesia.