DURING the late 1930’s, a new religious movement called the Bibelkring (a Dutch name meaning “a group of Bible students”) emerged around Lake Toba in North Sumatra. The movement started after several schoolteachers accepted literature from a visiting pioneer, likely Eric Ewins, who had preached in the Lake Toba area in 1936. What the teachers read prompted them to leave the Batak Protestant Church and establish home Bible study groups. Those groups grew and spread until their members totaled into the hundreds.a
Drawing on the literature left by the pioneer, the early Bibelkring identified several Bible truths. “They refused to salute the flag and shunned Christmas and birthday celebrations. Some even preached from door to door,” said Dame Simbolon, a former member who accepted the truth in 1972. Yet, lacking support from God’s organization, the movement soon fell victim to human reasoning. “Women were not allowed to wear makeup, jewelry, modern dress, or even shoes,” explains Limeria Nadapdap, another former member who is now our spiritual sister. “Members were also forbidden to obtain a national identity card, a stand that incurred the wrath of the government.”
The Bibelkring movement eventually split into several factions and gradually declined. When pioneers later returned to the Lake Toba area, many former Bibelkring members accepted the truth.
a Some sources estimate that at its peak the Bibelkring had thousands of members.