Nias Christian Protestant Church
(Banua Niha Keriso Protestan, BNKP)
The Nias Christian Protestant Church (BNKP) grew out of the work of the Rhenish Mission (Germany) on the island of Nias, which began in 1865. Missionaries from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands began working in the southern part of the island in 1889. The first synod of the BNKP was held in 1936, when the autonomy of the church was acknowledged by the Mission Society and the Dutch colonial government. The Protestant Christian Church which had grown out of the Dutch Lutheran mission merged with the BNKP in 1960. The church accepts the word of God as written in the scriptures, the Apostolic Creed, and the Small Catechism of Luther. Enriched by its Lutheran heritage, the BNKP is living out its vision and mission along with other churches, nationally and globally. It has identified five major areas of concern: 1) religious pluralism and dialogue with people of other faiths; 2) pursuing justice, serving the needy, opposing gender discrimination; 3) care for creation; 4) science and rapid technological change; 5) gospel and culture. The programmes of the church are grouped under Witness (sending out missionaries and speaking prophetically in the society); Community (worship in Indonesian and Nias languages, weekly Bible studies in the congregations, relations with other churches and ecumenical bodies); Service (orphanages, care for the needy, schools, and rehabilitation and reconstruction).
The majority of the population of Nias belongs to the BNKP. The church has put much emphasis on the formation of lay leadership, because it is scattered over a vast region and there is a shortage of ordained ministers. The training of more pastors is a high priority. The BNKP has its own theological seminary.
Nias is situated west of Sumatra. About 43 percent of the population are considered very poor. It is an isolated area, with a high level of illiteracy. The road conditions are bad, and there is only one hospital on the island. Communications with Sumatra and the rest of Indonesia are difficult. The island of Nias was hit by the tsunami of 26 December 2004, and again by the earthquake of 28 March 2005 which was even more devastating. Many people were killed, many others lost their houses and belongings. Much of the infrastructure of the island was destroyed, including many church buildings. Following these disasters, the main priority of the BNKP has been to reorganize the life of the church and the local congregations, to assist people with trauma counselling and other assistance, and to reconstruct churches and other buildings.
The Nias Christian Protestant Church is in relationship with several regional churches in Germany, and with the Protestant Church in the Netherlands.