Punan Tubu in Indonesia

Punan Tubu
Photo Source:  Jbarta - Wikipedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Punan Tubu
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 3,800
World Population: 3,800
Primary Language: Punan Tubu
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.50 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Borneo-Kalimantan
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Tubu are one of the indigenous Punan peoples of Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the huge island of Borneo. They live in the northeast section of Borneo near the Malaysian border. There are about 20 Punan tribes, and they are not always related by culture or language. One of these subgroups is the Tubu Punan tribe. The Tubu Punan have their own language of Tubu Punan. There are currently no Christian resources available in this 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 Indonesian does not benefit from the nation's wealth.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Tubu Punan make their living through growing crops, fishing and hunting. Their main crop is rice along with tropical fruits, vegetables, maize, and coconuts. Since the 1980s many of their youths have started to migrate to cities in Indonesia and Malaysia in search of a better life. It is a distinct possibility that the Tubu Punan language and culture could disappear in the next few decades. As more Indonesians move into the area where the Tubu Punan live, their culture is vanishing. Tribal groups like the Tubu Punan tend to be looked down upon by other Indonesian peoples.

The Tubu trade their surplus rice and fish to buy things they cannot make for themselves such cell phones and appliances. The Punan live in villages with elders making the important decisions. Each village has a shaman who connects the Punan to the spirit world.

The Punan people tend to marry within their group. Marriage to one spouse is the norm. The Punan families often have many children. Many children die before their 10th birthday due to the lack of access to modern medicine. It is the sons' responsibility to take care of their elderly parents.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Tubu Punan people have their own folk religion. They believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as trees, rocks, rivers, animals, and mountains. The Tubu believe they must appease these spirits or they can bring disaster upon the people. Village shamans give the people charms and amulets to protect them for the evil spirits. The Tubu also venerate their ancestors.

Those within the Tubu community are likely to see anyone who embraces another "religion" as a traitor, which is why we need to take Christ to them, not another religion.

What Are Their Needs?

The Tubu would benefit from the introduction of modern medicine. The life span of the Tubu is low compared to other peoples of Indonesia. If teams of believers brought solar panels, it would help the Tubu. Most of all the Tubu need to understand the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and rescue them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Pray for few Tubu Punan believers to have the willingness to share their faith with their family and neighbors.

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Tubu Punan.

Pray for the Tubu Punan people to have the chance to hear and respond to the true God of heaven.

Pray that the Bible and other resources would be translated into Tubu Puana.

Pray for a disciple making movement to spread throughout the Punan communities in this decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project