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Introduction / History
The Banjar people primarily live in the southern, central, and eastern provinces of Kalimantan, Indonesia. Several thousand speakers of Banjar also live in Malacca and Johor in Malaysia.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Banjar language is also a regional language in Indonesia. That affects speakers of other languages in the provinces because those other people must learn Banjar in order to buy and sell in the markets. Banjar speech is difficult for other Indonesians to understand because the Banjar speak with a completely different intonation and speed.
Although they are devout Muslims, the Banjar proudly trace their origins to a Hindu kingdom, the Nagara Dipa. Buddhism, then Hinduism, and finally Islam were introduced from Java into South Kalimantan. In 1526, Banjar Prince Samudera accepted Islam and took the name of Sultan Suriansyah as a condition of receiving help from a Javanese army in overthrowing his uncle.
After they established Islam in South Kalimantan, the Muslim Sultan agreed to give a strategic portion of prime land downtown to the largest Christian denomination in Kalimantan. In exchange, this denomination had to agree not to evangelize Muslims. This is one major reason there are still no churches that worship God in the Banjar language.
In early 2020, spiritual changes started taking place among the Banjar. Over 300 people signed up to pray daily for the Banjar at www. Pray4thebanjar.com. After that, a mission agency from the Philippines agreed to come to this area to train believers in Disciple Making Movements. They completed the Gospel of Luke in the Banjar language. They made a Banjar scripture app available on the Google Play store. A certified Bible translation consultant checked and approved 35 oral Bible stories in Banjar.
Banjarmasin is the heartland of the Banjar language and is also the capital city of South Kalimantan. Since portions of the city are below sea level, the city rises and falls with the tides. Lanting (houses on stilts) line the multiple waterways, which crisscross the city. Taking a small klotok (motorized boat) around the rivers and canals shows a wide variety of activity: people bathing, washing laundry, gossiping and buying fruit, vegetables and fish from female vendors in small canoes. The Banjar people seldom move to other areas of Indonesia. They marry and settle near their parents or other relatives in Kalimantan.
Most find their livelihood through farming or plantation work near the rivers. Trade, transport and mining are also prominent occupations. Many Banjar work in traditional manual sawmills but are reluctant to work in plywood factories because of the unhealthy conditions.
Since the period of Dutch colonialism, the Banjar have looked suspiciously at government schools as attempting to secularize their children. Since independence, they have developed modern Islamic schools claiming identity as government schools.
The Banjar people do not look positively upon modern methods and technologies, nor do they mix socially with other people groups.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Banjar identity is inseparable from the Islamic religion. The pervasiveness of Islam in Banjar society influences every aspect of individual and family life. Religion is the primary force in controlling crime, such as thievery and gambling. They rigorously observe the Islamic celebrations and month-long fast of Ramadan. The most famous building in Banjarmasin is the Agung Sabilal Muthadin Mosque, in the center of the city.
What Are Their Needs?
There is also a traditional animistic undercurrent in their belief system. Animistic beliefs teach that certain supernatural powers live in objects such as stones, trees and mountains.
The Banjar do not look positively on modern methods and technologies, nor do they mix socially with other groups. This isolation has limited their development of education, health care and water purification. In the interior, villages have a limited infrastructure for distribution of crops and goods. The proliferation of coal, diamond and gold mines has also created tension throughout Kalimantan.
Pray that God would raise up at least 1000 intercessors who would sign up to pray daily for the Banjar at pray4thebanjar.com
Pray that God would provide us with more mother-tongue speakers of Banjar to help with the Bible translation project.
Pray that the entire Bible will soon be available in the Banjar language along with scripture apps which can be downloaded and used on cell phones.
Pray for more like-minded ministry partners who understand the value and importance of giving the good news to the Banjar in the Banjar language.
Pray for a movement of multiplying fellowships of believers who worship God in the Banjar language to emerge throughout the Banjar speaking areas of Indonesia and Malaysia.
Scripture Prayers for the Banjar in Indonesia.