Tribal Languages Reach More People with the Gospel

Supri was excited to hear Back to God Ministries International’s (BTGMI) radio programs Rencana Ogung (Majestic Plan) and Kutak Andau (Today’s Word) in his tribal language.

Like many people in Indonesia, he is much more comfortable using his tribal dialect—in this case, Dayaknese—instead of the national language.

“I’ve never before heard Christian teachings in Dayaknese,” said Supri, who lives in Central Borneo. “When I hear these programs, I feel that the Christian faith is close to me, not just a strange Western religion.”

Rev. Untung Ongkowidjaya, ministry leader for BTGMI’s outreach in Indonesia, said that the ministry has expanded its broadcasts to include 10 programs in seven tribal languages in addition to six programs in the national language.

Part of the challenge of sharing the gospel in Indonesia is the number of tribal languages spoken across its 6,000 inhabited islands.

Also, nearly 90 percent of the population is Muslim, and many also practice tribal ancestral religions.

Although the BTGMI Indonesian ministry team focuses on the major tribal languages, Rev. Untung says they “have a dream to produce tribal radio programs in the common languages that are used by Muslim people.”

Since beginning a partnership in 2011 with Words of Hope, the media ministry associated with the Reformed Church in America, BTGMI’s Indonesian ministry has expanded its programming to more efficiently reach its audience.

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