Toraja Church

(Gereja Toraja)
This church in the Toraja area of Sulawesi (former Celebes) grew out of the efforts of missionaries sent by the Mission Society of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, beginning in 1913. Early on in its history, schools and teacher-training colleges were established, and a hospital was built in 1929. In 1947, after the second world war, the church became autonomous. A Bible in the native language was published in 1960 which is also used by Roman Catholics. In the late fifties and early sixties, the Toraja Church endured persecution at the hands of the fanatical Darul Islam movement. Christian villages were attacked, houses and churches burnt, and people tortured and killed. The government restored order in 1964. Peaceful relationships with the surrounding Muslim communities remain a daily concern of the Toraja Christians.

The church has grown considerably. About 80 percent of the total population in Torajaland belong to the Toraja Church, and another 30 percent of its members live in other parts of Indonesia. The Toraja region is a very isolated area of Sulawesi which can only be accessed by road. The congregations are scattered in remote places. Education and skills development are high priorities. If the church does not succeed in providing training opportunities the young people will leave the region. Another concern is deforestation and conservation of the environment. The issue of gender is becoming prominent in the church. The majority of the pastors are women.

The Toraja Church continues to wrestle with the dynamic relationship of the gospel and cultures (traditional customs as well as the impact of modernization and globalization). The crucial challenge is how to be a faithful church of Jesus Christ in the midst of a pluralistic society marked by rapidly changing values. The church participates actively in local, regional and national ecumenical activities. In 2007, several events of healing by prayer have occured in the Toraja region which have brought about a mass revival movement in the church.