Balaesan in Indonesia

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Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Balaesan
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 6,900
World Population: 6,900
Primary Language: Balaesang
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.27 %
Evangelicals: 0.27 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Kaili-Tomini of Sulawesi
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Balaesang are an indigenous people who live on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia. They became Muslims after coming into contract with Arab and Indian traders hundreds of years ago. According to, no Scripture currently exists in their language, either as recordings or in written form. The Balaesang language is considered endangered as only about 4000 people currently speak it.

In the early 20th century, the Dutch colonialists sent evangelists into the Balaesang region, but the people seem to have resisted and remained loyal to Islam and their folk religion.

Where Are they Located?

The Balaesang live on a small western peninsula on Sulawesi. Most live in the coastal villages although some reside in the mountainous interior.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Balaesang make their living by hunting, fishing and agriculture. Their main stable food is sago, the pulp of certain palm trees. They also grow peanuts, corn, and coconuts. Most Balaesang live in isolated villages where an elder or group of elders make the decisions and settle their legal disputes. Most men have only one wife.
Many of the Balaesang are illiterate. Their children generally quit school early to help their families make a living. Most Balaesang have learned to speak the national Indonesian language of Bahasa so they can communicate with outsiders.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Balaesang claim to be Muslims but their Islam is heavily influenced by animism. The supreme God Allah is seen as remote from their daily lives. The Balaesang believe they must appease the evil spirits who live around them. A village shaman offers chants, charms and rituals to protect the Balaesang from the power of the spirits. The Balaesang live constant fear of offending the evil spirits and their ancestors.

What Are Their Needs?

All Balaesang need to hear the life-changing message of Isa or Jesus Christ. He alone can deliver them from their fear of evil spirits. The Balaesang would benefit by the introduction of solar panels that could help them run appliances and cell phones. Medical teams could vastly improve the health of the people.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord sends Holy Spirit anointed workers to the Balaesang to help with their physical and spiritual needs.
Pray the small group of believers among the Balaesang grows and that evangelical churches are planted in each village.
Pray that gospel recordings are made available in the Balaesang language and made easily available.

Text Source:   Keith Carey