Pasrah Karso (d. 1895)

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Kedungpenjalin, the first permanent congregation of the Mennonite mission church in Java, Indonesia, was founded (1869) and pastored for 25 years by Pasrah Karso. He was perhaps the most effective of that church's first-generation national leaders. Pasrah (originally Serwo) was born in the village of Sintru near Pati into the family of a nominally Muslim construction worker. His literacy and the respect he was able to command as a leader suggest that traditions about family connections to people of the ruling class may have some credence.

In his youth Pasrah's family moved to the new village of Pulojati near the present-day town of Pecangaan about 7 miles (11 km.) southeast of Jepara. As a young man he, not unlike many Javanese in that time, was on the lookout for new spiritual insight. Frequent dreams and even a mysterious scrap of writing about a God who was the creator of the heavens and earth figures into this search. A new dimension to his search began in 1855, when an acquaintance by the name of Kimah came from Kayu Apu near Kudus to tell him about the new religion being taught there by Nederlandsch Zendelingengenootschap missionary Hoezoo and his assistant, Filemon, Pasrah became very interested and went to Kayu Apu to learn more. Some time later, having agreed to baptism, he failed to appear at the appointed time. Soon thereafter he learned about a missionary working in Jepara, much closer to his home. This was Mennonite missionary Pieter Jansz. Karso was attracted by the teaching of Jansz and his assistants, Klinkert and Andreas Ngariman, but he was confused by the fact that they restricted baptism to adults and gave no baptismal certificate. After much hesitation he was finally baptized on Christmas Day, 1865, by Pieter Jansz. He changed his name to Pasrah Karso which means "Surrendered Will."

In sharp contrast to Tunggul Wulung, the well-known leader of the indigenous Javanese Christian movement in the area, Pasrah Karso willingly served and learned under the guidance of the European missionaries. Soon he was appointed full-time gospel teacher.

Opposition, including arson, in Pulojati caused Pasrah Karso and his associates to seek another location. After several failed attempts, including placement by Jansz in Bondo, a village of the indigenous Christian movement, in order to gain mission influence there, Pasrah Karso finally led his group to form a new hamlet, Kedungpenjalin, in the area of Karanggondang, in 1869. The settlement and the congregation prospered under Pasrah Karso's able leadership without a resident missionary. This took place in spite of Tunggul Wulung's ministry in nearby Bondo and the launching by the mission of the attractive mission agricultural colony project in Margorejo. At the time of Pasrah Karso's death the mission saw it necessary to take firmer action in response to Roman Catholic and Irvingite Apostolic activities in the area and placed Johann Hübert, a new missionary from Russia, in Kedungpenjalin. A negative effect of this move, however, was the effective dissolution of the fabric of national congregational leadership that had developed so effectively over the previous quarter century. The youthful national leaders, Yahuda Limbundan and Yohanan Semadin, whom Pasrah had trained to take over leadership now took a back seat.

See also Gereja Injili di Tanah Jawa (Evangelical Church of Java).


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Author(s) Lawrence M Yoder
Date Published 1987

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Yoder, Lawrence M. "Pasrah Karso (d. 1895)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 14 Jun 2024.

APA style

Yoder, Lawrence M. (1987). Pasrah Karso (d. 1895). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 14 June 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 674-675. All rights reserved.

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