The History of Christianity in Bali

Christianity is the third minority religion in Bali after Islam embraced by 64,454 Protestants and 31,397 Catholics. The percentage of the population of Balinese Christians and Catholics is 1.66% and 0.81% respectively. The largest concentration of Protestants in Bali is in the village of Blimbingsari while the concentration of Catholics in Bali is found in the village of Palasari. However, the journey how Balinese accepted Christian in this wonderful island was full of tragedy and long story. Here is the history of Christianity in Bali.

  1. The Invitation from the King of Bali

In the library of the Vatican, Rome, stored a letter from King Klungkung, the leader of Bali at the beginning of the 17th century. The letter written on the palm leaf was an invitation from King Klungkung to the Portuguese priests at the Malacca Catholic Center to come to Bali. It was written: “I am so glad if we start to be friends now . I would be happy if priests come here, so whoever wishes to be allowed to convert to Christianity.” says the King of Klungkung. The letter was precisely in 1635. The invitation of the Balinese king was certainly well received by the Catholic religious leaders in Malacca, then dominated by the Portuguese.

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2. The Priest came in Bali

Shortly after that, exactly March 11, 1635, there came two priests from Malacca. They are Pastor Manuel Carualho S.J. and Azeuado S.J. This was the beginning of Balinese contact with Catholic missionaries. At least the invitation of King Klunsgkung was the first event recorded by history. Unfortunately, there was no record of the outcomes of the two Catholic missionaries during their stay in Bali. Or, about the acceptability or absence of Catholicism by the people of Bali at that time. The history of contact between the Catholic missionaries and the Hindu Balinese community is cut off here.

3.  The Built of Christian Village in Bali

Pastor Simon Buis had a desire to build a traditional Balinese-style village. For that, Simon Buis applied to the Bali Resident in Singaraja to be given forest land in the western part of Bali. The request was not granted, although Simon Buis had repeatedly applied for it. Pastor Simon Buis then made another request to the council of kings. The request was granted. The council of kings gave land to Palasari Lama Resident a location of 200 ha as well, which was not far from Pangkung Sente forest.

This new location is now called Palasari Village. Incidentally, Palasari is fertile land. It attracts people to move to this new land. Thus, Simon Buis’s goal of building a traditional Balinese Catholic village gained a path. In this village, although they are Roman Catholics, the Balinese still use Balinese customs and traditions, whether in dress, language, or in building.

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4. Religious conversion in Bali

Bali, which has been a mission field since 1630, underwent a great harvest since the historic and tumultuous baptism of Tukad Yeh Poh, Untung-Untal Dalung 11 November 1931. Since then, Christianity has continued to reach Bali until the conversion reaches at least 27,500 inhabitants. This new figure is successfully harvested by a protestant mission, while Catholics are expected to gain an equal following. This religious conversion does not happen by chance, but with a structured, systematic and sheltered effort by the world mission agency.

Several sources said that the conversion of religion in Bali is divided into three periods. The first period in between 1597s-1928s, the second period of 1929-1936 was based on the effectiveness of evangelistic efforts undertaken. Then, the last period of 1937-1949 was as a period of preparation for the birth of the Protestant Christian Church of Bali.


5. Some Christian Missionaries came to Bali

The first period is more of a preparatory period, where a number of world mission bodies, zendeling (missionaries) and missionaries (Catholic missions) studied and come to Bali. A number of priests come to Bali disguised as tourists like Drs. H.W. Medhurst and Dr. W.R. Baron Van Hoevall. In addition, some researchers are sent as preparation stage such as Van Der Tuuk. He was sent by the Utrecht Missions Society (U.Z.W.) in collaboration with the Dutch Bible Society (N.B.G.). Van Der Tuuk worked in Bali in 1870-1873, in addition to translating the gospels also made the Balinese language dictionary.

A number of truly masterful scholars of this missionary studied and studied various ancient lontar in Bali. It turns out that behind the solidity of the customary system, reported by Christian workers in Bali such as Van Hoevall, since 1846, many Balinese people have been dissatisfied with the custom and religious system. Written by Hoeval many Balinese feel the existing caste system in Balinese Hindu religion is unfair and the many ceremonies and obligations with respect to the holding of ceremonies and prayers caused them to become poor. This is what Hoeval sees as the entry gap to spread Christianity in Bali.

6. The first Balinese who became a Christian

However, even though zending continued to roll in Bali with the sending of a number of evangelists, the efforts in the early stages was fail. The three Dutch missionaries, Van Eck, Van Vog, Van der Vroom, after 13 years of their efforts, in 1873 succeeded in baptizing only one Balinese I Goesti Wajan Karangasem from East Bali, Jagaraga Singaraja.

I Goesti Wajan Karangasem was named the baptism Nicedemus. However, because he was not strong enough to bear the burden of ostracism from his family and his banjar, he allegedly killed De Vroom in 1881. Since that bloody incident, the Netherlands closed its evangelistic activities and Bali closed for about 50 years. In addition, through the long debate, the Netherlands also implemented a cultural and educational policy known as Baliseering (Balinization) which began in the 1920s which made it difficult for evangelists get a permit to enter Bali.

Yet the mission body did not give up. Amid the closing of evangelistic activity, the indigenous evangelist Salam Watias from Kediri, working for the Christian Church of Jawi Wetan (G.K.J.W) came to Bali to sell Christian books. Watias uses a cultural approach and approaches the Balinese because of his fellow “Wong Majapahit.” He sells these books to villages, especially in northern Bali.


7.  The new strategy to spread Christian

Since the Balinese had the pleasure of reading religious lessons, thousands of books have been sold. The most popular book is the Gospel of Luke written in Balinese. It is also possible that Surya Kanta supporters who were not satisfied with the real condition of Balinese custom and religion become buyers of Salam Watias book.

About 80 Balinese finally asked to be baptized by Watiyas. But the work that was considered very successful by Dr. R.A. Jaffray, Chairman of C.M.A., employed a Chinese Evangelist named Tsang Kam Fuk, who later called himself Tsang To Hang. Tsang To Hang made it into Bali in 1931 after the CMA managed to get a special license to evangelize the Chinese people in Bali. They had waited years to get a permit to enter Bali, but since the permit was not obtained they dealt with permission for limited evangelization to the Chinese and the Dutch finally granted the request.

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8. The spread of Christian in Bali today

Nowadays, evangelism is not only done with propaganda efforts, but also through large and interesting packaged bodies such as the Bali Gospel Festival held at GOR Ngurah Rai Denpasar. This activity is a mass healing by using prayers filled with Christian songs, lectures and fellowship from various regions in Bali.

Chairman of the current GKPB Bali Synod Pdt. Drs. I Wayan Sudira Husada.MM said Christians are trying to improve the dark history of Christianity in Bali, that is, Christianity enters in a rough way and totally rejects the customary system, resulting in strong opposition by Balinese loyal to custom. Dr. Jaffray and Tsang To Hang asked new Christians to dismantle themselves as idol worship idols, demons and demons and forbade taking part in customary activities. This of course raises the offense of the Balinese who eventually became a prolonged conflict.

After the long explanation above, now you have got the point how Christian entered Bali and become one of the legal religions that people could embrace there. Although Christian is the minority, but Balinese could live peacefully without having any conflict each other today.