Acehnese of Indonesia

Population: 3.9 million
Primary Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
Languages: Acehnese, Bahasa Indonesia


Who are the Acehnese?

The Acehnese live on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, Indonesia. Most live near the coast and support themselves by fishing and farming.

Conflict and Tragedy

The Acehnese are tired of trauma. A long, bitter guerrilla conflict between Indonesian nationalists and Acehnese freedom fighters ravaged the jungles and villages of Aceh between 1976 and 2004. The tsunami of December 2004 ended the violence, but the disaster's devastating impact and the staggering loss of life were a great blow to the province. Although there is a renewed sense of hope today, it will be some time before the wounds of conflict and tragedy heal completely.


Almost all Acehnese are Muslim. Believing God caused the tsunami as punishment for disobedience, some Acehnese have begun to practice a fearful perfectionist form of Islam. They are encouraged by religious leaders who use loudspeakers and educational billboards to urge Muslims to raise their standard of religious commitment. The
Acehnese are allowed to practice other
faiths, but those who do cease to be
"truly Acehnese."

Spiritual Darkness

After so many years of conflict, it is not surprising that Aceh is home to great spiritual darkness. The Acehnese, though faithful Muslims, regularly turn to dukuns (traditional healers) for help with spiritual and physical health problems. Dukuns are an accessible, cheap and often effective alternative to modern health care, which is not readily available in Aceh and is often too expensive for the Acehnese.

Prayer Points

  • Pray for Aceh to remain at peace. Pray for healing and restoration after conflicts and disasters that have strained family and community life.

  • Pray that Acehnese leaders would continue to allow Indonesian and international development workers to work in the area.

  • Pray for bridges of trust to be built between the Acehnese and people of other ethnic groups. May the latter groups work to understand Acehnese culture and values.

  • Pray for freedom from the powers of darkness that bind so many people in Aceh, at many levels of society.

  • Pray for a Jesus movement to sweep through the Acehnese turning this "gateway to Mecca" into Southeast Asia's "gateway for Christ."

Read the full profile

Acehnese of Indonesia

Learn more about the Acehnese

(External links)

Joshua Project People Profile
Conflict in Aceh
Acehnese Language