Meratus, Bukit in Indonesia

Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Meratus, Bukit
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 71,000
World Population: 71,000
Primary Language: Malay, Bukit
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Malay
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Meratus Bukit or Bukit Malay are an indigenous people living in the southeastern section of Kalimantan Province on the island of Borneo in Indonesia. The Meratus make their living through agriculture, gathering forest products, hunting, and fishing.

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 Meratus people are rice farmers, raising crops in "swiddens", or clearings in the forest. Swiddens are farmed for a few years, then left for the forest to reclaim the land. The Meratus also collect forest products and trade with Banjar at markets outside the mountains. Many Meratus men can speak Banjar and Indonesian since government administrators conduct business in Indonesian and trade with the Banjar people is conducted in Banjar. A Meratus person's name changes over the course of his or her life, based on their stage in life and their children's names. Most Meratus live and farm in "umbuns", which are considered the primary social units. Meratus are classified as a semi-nomadic, isolated tribal people.

Marriage to one spouse is the norm among the Meratus. They marry within their group. Families and young couples arrange marriages. Many Meratus children die young due to the lack of modern medicine. Due to their semi-nomadic lifestyle, many Meratus children do not attend school. Even if they get a few years of schooling, many quit to help their families earn a living.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of the Meratus practice folk religion and animism. They believe that spirits inhabit the objects of nature such as rivers, animals, trees, the sky and mountains. These spirits must be appeased by prayers and offerings or they can bring disaster upon the people. The Meratus also venerate their ancestors. Each village has a shaman who helps connect the Meratus to the spirit world. The shaman gives charms and amulets to protect the people and serves as the first person the Meratus go to when they have a medical need.

What Are Their Needs?

The lack of workers and lack of prayer inhibit the advance of the gospel throughout Indonesia.

The JESUS Film and gospel recordings are available in the language of the Meratus people. Workers can use the JESUS Film to strengthen the tiny existing church as well as provide evangelistic opportunities. Only Jesus can deliver the Meratus from their fear of evil spirits. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray the Lord strengthens the small number of Meratus believers.

Please pray for their spiritual growth as well as numerical growth.

Pray they will represent Christ well and tell family and friends about the Savior.

Please pray the Lord will open the eyes of the Meratus people to their spiritual need and opportunity for forgiveness of sin by placing their trust in Jesus.

Text Source:   Joshua Project