Saturday, September 23, 2006

German Missionaries Brought Christianity Says Batak from Indonesia

Youth can't understand liturgy in their parents' language

"Christianity came with a German missionary in 1860. So we have a very young church," says Patia Panjaitan from Jakata Selatm in Indonesia.

In his area of northern part of the Sumatra island Christians are the majority while Muslims are minority. One of the best known German missionaries who brought Christianity to the area was Ludwig Ingwer Nommensen.

He is a member of the Batak, one of 300 tribes in his country and is a member of the Batak Protestant Congregation where he also is involved in welfare work for his own community.

The population in Indonesia is around 245 million people, says Panjaitan, speaking of the world biggest Muslim nation where more than 80 percent are followers of Islam.

"There are five pastors and four churches in my town. The liturgy is in the Batak language and there is a problem the youth can't understand it. Therefore, we have services also in the main Indonesian language," laments Panjaitan noting that the values of young people change fast in the 21st century.

His congregation has 1,500 members, all of whom are Batak.

"In Batak tradition we like to give God something, so God can reciprocate," says Panjaitan. "Even if we are very poor, we give money or something to the pastor, so he can give his sermon as a gift from God."

"Ce sont les Allemands qui ont amené le Christianisme"

Patia Panjaitan, de l'une des 300 tribus Batak du Nord de Sumatra en Indonésie, parle de sa communauté soulignant combien c'est une jeune Église, le premier missionnaire allemand débarquant sur l'île en 1860. Dans la région où il vit les chrétiens sont majoritaires, dans ce pays musulman, le plus peuplé du monde (80% des 245 millions d'habitants).

Il souligne combien la transmission est difficile, alors que "les valeurs des jeunes changent si vite en ce début de 21e siècle. La liturgie est toujours en langue Batak, alors que les jeunes ne parlent plus cette langue". Il pointe cependant combien les traditions bataks sont encore vives au sein de sa paroisse de 1.500 personnes : "La culture du don est encore très présente".

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