Reaching the Dayak for Jesus
Adventist missionaries have helped many of the Dayak people come to know Jesus. But the work is vast, and the grasp of animism is strong.
In 1963, Pacific Press® published a book called Nyla and the White Crocodile,* in which pioneer missionary Norma Youngberg shares the story of how the Dayak tribespeople of Sarawak learned about Christ.
In the past, Adventist missionaries have helped many of the Dayak people come to know Jesus. But the work is vast, and the grasp of animism is strong. There is still much to be done to reach these beautiful people with the gospel.
Sarawak is located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It’s home to some 2.5 million people, many of whom belong to the Dayak-Iban tribe. Many of the people live in traditional longhouses like their ancestors did. A longhouse is a building comprised of separate dwellings covered by one roof. Each family has its own room, and each longhouse has a chief. These communal buildings provide a safe and secure environment for the tribespeople.
The Dayak people work together in small, open spaces in the jungle, growing produce to sell in the local markets. They fish the rivers and tap the rubber trees that are plentiful in the dense jungles. Their shared activities create a strong, tightly knit family environment.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has sent Global Mission pioneers to live and work among the Dayak people. The pioneers are local people who are familiar with the Dayak culture and customs. They become part of the community, working alongside the members of the longhouse and becoming their friends. The Dayak people welcome them and allow them to become part of the longhouse families.
Having earned their trust, the pioneers are able to share the gospel. Many of the people are excited to learn about a God who loves them and wants to improve their lives.
The Dayak people are animists and live in fear of evil spirits. Their whole world is guided by the omens and signs that are commonplace in the jungle. But when they become Christians, they lead new lives free of fear. They live in peace and hope.
When the members of a longhouse have made a decision to accept Christ, a local pastor is invited to hold evangelistic meetings. After the meetings, those who have chosen to follow Jesus are baptized in a nearby river.
Please remember our Global Mission pioneers who are serving in Sarawak and around the world. And thank you for supporting them with your financial gifts. Thanks to you, many of the Dayak people have come to know and love Jesus.
* Nyla and the White Crocodile is available at the Adventist Book Center® or www.AdventistBookCenter.com.
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