Batak (Indonesian people)

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Batta (pl. Batak) are a Malay tribe on Sumatra. The first attempt to convert the Batak to Christianity was made by the English Baptists in 1820. Fourteen years later the Boston Missionary Society sent two missionaries to the Batak, who fell victim to cannibalism. In 1861 the Rhine mission opened its work in the area, spreading to the north; in 10 years they had 10 stations with about 2,500 Christians, and in 1914, 40 stations with 125,000 baptized members. Toward the south and east the Dutch missions opened their work. In the southernmost province of the Batak area (Mandailing) the Dutch Mennonite mission had its field. The population here was predominantly Muslim. The first station was opened in 1871 by Heinrich Dirks at Pakanten. In the course of time two other stations were established: Penjabungen and Hoetagodang, with several subsidiary stations, two hospitals, and an orphanage. The Mennonite membership was about 450 in 1914.

Pakanten had a hospital and a missionary school. The head nurse, Jonathan Djapangoeloe, worked faithfully here for more than 40 years. P. Nachtigal was a successful missionary at this place from 1911 until his death in 1928. In the 1950s his widow lived in retirement at Lautenbach, Germany. He established Hoetagodang in 1912, and was the only missionary in the station after 1919. In 1925 a migration from the Toba district to Groot-Mandailing opened a new field of work. It was supported by funds raised in Holland by J. E. van Brakel and a generous contribution from the Heubuden Mennonite congregation in East Prussia. After the death of Nachtigal the work was orphaned until 1931, when the Rhine mission took it over. In 1939 the mission congregations joined the Batak church.


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Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 136.

Jaarverslagen van den Staat en de Verrichtingen der Doopsgezinden Vereeniging tot bevordering der Evangelieverbreiding (Dutch Mission Society) (1870-1940).

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Uit het Verleden en Leden van de Doopsgezinde Zending (1947).

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Warneck, Joh. Sechzig Jahre Batakmission in Sumatra. 3. Aufl. Berlin: Warneck, 1925.

Author(s) Nikolai Wiebe
Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Wiebe, Nikolai and Nanne van der Zijpp. "Batak (Indonesian people)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 26 Feb 2024.

APA style

Wiebe, Nikolai and Nanne van der Zijpp. (1953). Batak (Indonesian people). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 February 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 248. All rights reserved.

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