Banjara tribe in India finally to receive audio New Testament

By January 3, 2011

India (MNN) — An audio Scripture recording has finally begun for the 5 million person population of the Banjara tribe in India.

The Banjara are avoided with caution by most of India. They are a gypsy tribe, and while most gypsy groups moved west to Eastern Europe centuries ago, the Banjara remained in India. The tribe is associated with crime and dishonesty, invoking fear and distrust in many throughout the country.

Nevertheless, in 1999 a translation of the Bible was finally completed in the Banjara language. But with literacy rates peaking at 12 percent for males and 3.2 percent for females, few are able even to read it.

Audio Scripture Ministries has been working to bring the Word of God to the Banjara in a more accessible way: audio. It has taken a great deal of time, but after a long, trial-ridden road to get God's Word to these seeking people, work on an audio New Testament has finally begun.

"I think for the American audience, that just seems like something they're used to hearing: ‘Oh, it's a Bible recording. We have those.' But in countries like India where there are about 1,600 or so languages spoken, most people don't have that luxury of hearing anything spoken to them in an audio device–there has never been a recording done," explains JP Sundararajan with Audio Scripture Ministries.

"So in essence, when we record Scripture for people, we are the first people in their entire history to do a recording. That's pretty historic, and they value that. By doing what we do, not only are we helping preserve the legacy of these languages for future generations, but we are helping people hear God speak to them for the very first time in their own heart language."

The impact of providing the Gospel in a people group's heart language can be enormous. An audio recording of the Gospels were completed in the Lambadi dialect, a group of language-speakers associated with the Banjara. Immense change was seen in the Lambadi as a result, and a people who used to run when the police came to their villages were now proudly selling their goods in the market. A similar change is hoped for with the rest of the Banjara when they encounter the power of the Word of God.

Audio Scripture Ministries has been working tirelessly to find a way to bring the Banjara people a recorded version of the New Testament. But because of the low literacy rate, complications have occurred in finding a reader for the project. Despite the several hiccups along the way, however, Sundararajan says ASM has finally found a reader and they have begun recording. They hope to have the New Testament completed within the next month and a half.

Pray that no more obstacles would get in the way of the completion of this project. Pray that the Banjara would be receptive to the Gospel when they are finally able to begin hearing it.

Throughout the polytheistic world of India, a common reaction Sundararajan has heard when the Gospel is recorded in a people group's heart language is this: "We have many gods, but this God speaks my language." Pray that the Banjara would indeed be overwhelmed by God's desire to know them and the language they speak. Pray that this recording would be a doorway for the salvation of many.

You can support the Banjara project financially here.

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