In the jungles of Jambi, Sumatra lives a peculiar tribe who call themselves Orang Darat (land dwellers) or Anak Dalam (jungle kids). They are also known as Kubu or Rimba by the surrounding people. But they do not like those names since they are derogative towards them. Anak Dalam people are hunters and gatherers. They do not claim any of the five major religions of Indonesia. There are only 13,000 of them. As soon as I heard about this tribe I felt a tug in my heart to go. A pastor friend who I met while preaching in another province just happened to move to Jambi during that time. He helped me connect with Ronald and Aprin who have been working among this tribe for years.
On this trip I was also accompanied by Steve and Susan from Canada. After a short flight followed by a 14 hour bus ride, we arrived in Jambi in the middle of the night. The next day we traveled another 5 hours to arrive in Sarolangun, Jambi. We were well received by Ronald and Aprin who hosted us during the whole trip. From there we got on motorbikes that took us even further into the jungle. The members of the tribe live deep in the jungles of Jambi but from time to time a few of them come out to trade. Before we traveled into the jungle, our host brother Ronald and his wife Aprin briefed us on all the rules of how to approach the tribe. The members of this tribe are very reclusive and it takes time to gain their trust. We were also told that foreign and local missionaries have previously done things that offended the tribe therefore they have become very suspicious of anyone from outside.
God gave us favor and we were able to travel further into the jungle and meet a group of families. We were also able to meet brother Tarigan and his wife who have ministered among this tribe for many years. On the final day of our visit there, Sirait (a young man working with Ronald and Aprin) took me back into the jungle and met another extended family. It was like something out of National Geographic. They lived in small sheds made of grass and were barely dressed. I felt much overdressed in my shorts and t-shirt. A stranger cannot just enter their sheds uninvited so I just squatted near by and talked a bit with the men and kids. I realized then why such tribes are so hard to reach.
A few months later, my friend Hendra and I went back to Jambi. On the way there, we got a call from Ronald saying that one of the pregnant young ladies had fallen and is bleeding a lot. She needed a blood transfusion and the doctors were looking for her blood type. My friend Hendra who was with me on this trip was a match! As a result the whole extended family of about 30 people were open to receive us. This was a different group than the one I met on my first trip. They wore cloths and lived in plastic tents. Some even had a generator and television.
Hendra and I spent five days with them in the jungle. We bathed in the river and ate lots of barbequed wild bore. It was one of the most unforgettable things I have ever done in Indonesia. The final day, we got everyone together and shared about the blood of Jesus being the right type of blood that cleansed our sins away. Everything that happened during that trip was really a God set-up. Please pray for the Indonesian missionaries that are working so hard to reach this tribe. They are truly commendable. Pray for me also that God would open a door for me to go back and visit Jambi again.