(July 2014 estimate)
Tetum, Portugese, Indonesian
The Southeast Asian island nation of Timor-Leste is one of the world's youngest, becoming an independent nation in 2002. Located just northwest of Australia, this nation's road to freedom has been grueling and filled with sorrow. Colonized by the Portuguese during the mid 16th century and occupied for nearly 500 years, Timor-Leste declared itself free from Portugal in 1975, only to be invaded and conquered by Indonesia 9 days later. The people endured a harsh 25-year Indonesian reign, during which an estimated 100,000 Timorese died as a result of war, famine, and disease.
A densely populated nation, the island spans a mere 9 miles (14.5 km), and is inhabited by more than 1 million people. The population is 95% Timorese, and the official languages are Portuguese and Tetum, the latter spoken by most. In 1999, just 3 years before the Timorese gained full independence, the Indonesian military plundered and demolished 75% of the nation's infrastructure and economy. Rebuilding the nation will likely take decades. Poor health and illiteracy are prevalent, and the average worker makes an estimated $1.20 per day.
With 87% of the population claiming Christianity as their faith practice, Timor-Leste is one of only two predominantly Catholic nations in Asia. Just 2% of the population are evangelical, and while the evangelical church has seen slight growth, they are widely viewed with prejudice and suspicion. The streets are flooded with children and young people who have lost everything, and as a result they often form dangerous gangs. The physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the Timorese are great but the power of Jesus is greater, and He is able to heal, restore, and save. There is a call and great need for Gospel-equipped Christian leaders in Timor-Leste, as workers are few and Christian resources almost non-existent.
(Used with permission from www.prayercast.com/timor-leste.html.)
A nation with a majority of people clinging to false ideas of Christianity need to have more missionaries go to help clarify that salvation is entirely by faith alone. Possibly you could be one of those workers? To learn more about the Timor Leste, please contact BIMI's Southeast Asia Director