Population: 1.2 million (2012)
Official language: Portuguese
Major religion: Catholicism
Timor-Leste became independent in 2002 following a bloody separation from Indonesian occupation. The Timorese, who are as welcoming as the beautifully undisturbed waters that surround their island, have a fierce national pride. However, unemployment is very high, as is alcohol abuse and gang involvement. Many women and children carry a history of physical and sexual abuse. Scars run deep, but many have hope in finding a better life.
The Roman Catholicism of a 99% majority often incorporates animism and other folk religions. Protestants are generally accused of bringing in a foreign religion. There can be violence against young people who decide to follow Jesus, and they are not permitted to gather on campus.
Students in Timor-Leste
- around 16 universities: 9 in Dili, 7 on the outskirts
- informal prayer meetings on campus, and one known bible study group
FES Malaysia has been investing in relationships with individual students in Timor-Leste, helping them to see their campus as a mission field. Several training events have been held for 30 students studying in five of the universities around the capital, such as a weekend seminar that took place in March on ‘Making a Difference, Changing Our World’. These programs encourage racial reconciliation, nation building, engaging the university, and friendship evangelism.
View from the inside
One Christian student there says he is encouraged by Isaiah 40:1-5 – to build a highway for the Lord in the midst of his people. He says he has taken a stand to be an example in his university as he exercises godly discipline in his studies and reaches out to help those around him.
Please pray for:
- Christian students to remain strong amid an environment of persecution;
- Christians not to be ruled by fear of spiritual charms and other curses invoked on them by their families;
- peace and reconciliation for a country torn apart by gangs and violence;
- healing from abuse and trauma;
- lecturers and principals of schools to see the good impact Christians make on to the campus.