Introduction / History Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world and continues to grow rapidly. It has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world, with nearly 800 distinct people groups, many of whom are Muslim. Located in southeastern Asia, the many islands of Indonesia command vital sea routes between Australia, Europe, and the Asian mainland. These islands are the principal link between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The Bingkokak (also known as the Mekongka) can be found in southeastern Sulawesi in the Mekonga Mountains near Soroako. Their language, which they call Mekonggka, is a dialect of Tolaki and part of the Austronesian language family.
Very little is known about the Bingkokak in particular; thus, some tentative assumptions have been made concerning their lifestyle and culture. It is presumed that they are very similar to their close neighbors, the Pancana, the Maronene, and the Tolaki.
What are their lives like? Sulawesi is an island with a coastline of about 3,500 miles. It consists mainly of four peninsulas separated by deep gulfs, with two of the peninsulas extending southward and two, northeastward. On the southern part of the island is one of Sulawesi's highest points, Mount Lompobatang, an extinct volcano reaching a height of 9,419 feet. Although the climate of the area is tropical, it is somewhat modified by elevation and the closeness of the sea.
For the Bingkokak, maize grown in swiddens (land cleared by the "slash and burn" method) is the staple crop, but sweet potatoes, sugarcane, vegetables, tobacco, and coffee are also grown. Scattered among the clearings are their homes, which are usually built on stilts. They are generally made of woven grasses and have very high roofs.
Distinct social classes are still quite pronounced for most groups in Sulawesi, with an upper class of nobility, a lower class of nobility, and the commoners. Each class usually has its own code of behavior, along with various customs and traditions. A region is typically divided into village territories, and rights to land use are administered by the village council. However, the council retains ultimate ownership of all the land.
Bingkokak marriage customs require payments to the girl's family at the time of the engagement and again at the marriage. The amount of the bride-price depends upon the social rank of the young man. Prior to marriage, he is required to serve a probationary period with his prospective in-laws, and this requirement gives rise to a high degree of elopement. In the past, slaves and their descendants were not permitted to marry each other, though they could live together. Also, women of the nobility class did not marry commoners. Polygyny (having more than one wife) was common among some of the aristocracy but is rarely found today.
Today, Indonesia has more than eight million farmers who do not own their own land. To those willing to move from overcrowded areas to less developed islands, the government offers free land, housing, and other assistance.
What are their beliefs? Islam, the dominant religion in Indonesia today, is practiced by a majority of the population. Hinduism, widespread in the archipelago before the fourteenth century, is now practiced by only a small number of people, chiefly on the island of Bali. A small number of the people in Indonesia are Christians, primarily Protestant, and many Chinese follow Buddhist-Taoist teachings. Animism (the belief that non-human objects have spirits) is followed by tribes in remote areas.
The Bingkokak are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim. However, traditional beliefs are still very important, especially a belief in evil spirits. Few of the Bingkokak are Christians.
What are their needs? The Bingkokak believers have very few resources for church growth or evangelism. There is a great need for Bible materials to be translated into their language. Only then can the growth of the Church continue.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to work among the Bingkokak of Indonesia.
* Pray that Christian radio broadcasts will be available to the Bingkokak.
* Pray that God will use the Bingkokak believers to share Christ with their own people.
* Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Bingkokak church for the glory of His name! * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.