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The Bible has been translated into the Makassar language, and the Jesus film is also available. Still, there has never been a breakthrough for the gospel among this people group of 2.6 million, where less than 1 in 5,000 is a believer.
This week, Peter Youngren will conduct a gospel festival on a huge open field that can accommodate hundreds of thousands right in the center of their capital, Makassar, located in southern Sulawesi, in Indonesia.
Youngren’s gospel campaign director, Johan Olehall, reports from Makassar: “Since arriving here, I have come to understand that the fear of demons is very big in the everyday life of the Makassar people. The good thing is that they are fascinated about miracles and seeing people healed, as they never experience this within their Islamic religion."
All the churches in the city of Makassar, mostly Chinese, are working with the gospel festival team in this outreach.
“While there are 400 to 500 believers in total among the Makassar people,” Olehall comments, “there is no Makassar church as such. These few believers are spread into various churches with other ethnicities.”
Two lay ministers, who are from the Makassar people, report how extremely difficult it is for new believers to “come out as Christians.” One of the lay ministers was almost killed when he first mentioned the name of Jesus in his village, but now he reports improvement. Many within the Makassar people ask for prayer in secret when someone in their family is sick.
“This is what we live for, to make Jesus known where people have never had a chance to hear His name,” Youngren said before leaving for Makassar. “We are privileged to work with local Christians in southern Sulawesi, as well as people around the world who are helping us to continue to go to megacities populated by unreached people groups.”
With gospel events of this nature, many ask about follow-up plans for those who receive Christ. The culture shock is often very big when a person dressed in Muslim attire comes to a Christian church. A lady with a Muslim head covering is likely to be rejected.
Youngren and his team are working with local Christians who promote “prayer houses” in private homes, where those newly born again are allowed to wear their Muslim head coverings while at the same time studying and learning more about Jesus Christ.
The World Impact Ministries team has gone all out to connect with the Makassar people one on one, as well as through newspapers, radio and television.
“For centuries, these people have lived in fear of spirits that they believe have a direct influence on their daily lives,” Youngren added. “We believe that the Holy Spirit will now reveal Jesus Christ to the people.”