Photo Essay – Sumatra, Indonesia

By a Pioneer in Southeast Asia

Known in ancient times as Swarnabhumi, “Land of Gold,” Sumatra has a wealth of history and is rich in tradition. It is the largest island that is entirely Indonesian and hosts a Muslim-majority population. I traveled there to this creative-access location to gather advocacy resources.

Stepping off the plane in Sumatra my brain-to-eyeball connection briefly short circuited. All of the signs I saw used roman characters, but the combinations were entirely unfamiliar! Having come from my home base in a nearby Asian country, it was both refreshing and confusing. Soon I would be mangling Indonesian words from both inexperience and tonal rules.

Language failings aside, my enthusiasm to discover more of how the Lord is at work in Sumatra was met with equal enthusiasm by my host family. In the days that followed, I found a tension between the bold advance of the gospel and the desperate spiritual needs that still exist. The story isn’t finished.

Enjoy these cultural excerpts from Sumatra and get in touch with Pioneers to see how you can be part of the next chapter!

Variations of the knitted caps above may be known as a topi, taqiyah, sindhi or salat, depending on your location in Southeast Asia. Known as a prayer cap in English, some Muslim men wear the cap to be mustahabb, or commendable.

Mobile vendors are a mainstay of small business in Sumatra. From water to watches, locks to lunch, you can likely find it on street cart.

Salak, or snakefruit look much like an armored strawberry. Sweet and acidic in taste, salak has a firm, apple-like texture.

The World Health Organization indicates that 61% of road deaths in Indonesia are riders of 2 or 3 wheeled vehicles. Pedestrians also account for a shockingly high percentage of road deaths at 15%.

Though badminton is Indonesia’s most successful sport, football is arguably the most popular. Indonesians play it at all levels from the streets to world cup stadiums.

Known as Riau’s Taj Mahal, the Agung An-Nur Riau mosque was designed by Ir. Roseno and features calligraphic art created by Azhari Nur in 1970.

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