India (MNN) — The Garasias were being transformed from the minute they got their hands on their first audio Bibles a few weeks ago.
The Garasias are an ancient tribe to Rajasthan, India. Almost a year ago, Mission Network News reported about the way the tribe has been ostracized and left to scavenge in the jungle for the last 500 years.
When a missionary came to the 221,000-person tribe a few decades ago and found that the Garasias had never heard of Christ and had no Bible to speak of in their own language, he set out to translate the Scriptures. When the New Testament was finally complete, there was still one problem: less than two percent of the Garasias can read.
We told you last April about the desire of Audio Scripture Ministries desire to record the Garasias New Testament by the end of 2011. Today ASM can proudly announce that they reached that goal. And not only did they reach the goal, but they have finally been able to distribute 150 audio Bibles to the Garasias.
"So far, all that they have understood about Jesus, about God, has come through the mouths of their pastors and local evangelists.. But now, with audio Bibles in their communities, it's like we've just unleashed 150 new missionaries who speak nothing but God's Word in people's heart language," says ASM's J.P. Sundararajan.
This is quite an exciting feat for believers among the Garasias, who have suffered much for following Christ over the last few decades. One of the men who helped do the reading for the audio Bible was strongly chastised for leaving his family and pregnant wife to read for ASM. "Pappu" considered it a necessary sacrifice for his people to get God's Word, however. Now Pappu is back, and the people's thirst for Scripture was astonishingly clear at the distribution.
"A lot of people were gathered, and only 150 Bibles were able to be distributed," says Sundararajan. "The missionary told us, ‘We need 100 more immediately'–not even over the course of the next few months, or weeks or years."
There are very few believers among the Garasias, so such a response was very exciting. Perhaps even more amazing than that hunger, though, was one immediate transformation of the community. The Garasias do not have a word for "thank you." Due to their trying past, they have historically been an ungrateful people. But when ASM workers distributed the audio Bibles, they continued to hear "Aabar! Aabar!" from the people.
When asked what that word meant, the translator told ASM that the Garasias were using a phrase from a nearby community. "The word ‘aabar' means ‘thank you,'" says Sundararajan. "It seems like a seemingly insignificant phrase, but for the Garasias this is a big deal."
The Garasias were becoming a grateful people right before the eyes of the ASM team.
Since the distribution, ASM has heard many more exciting stories about the way God's Word is transforming this tribe. Pray that pastors and other Christian leaders would be able to answer the questions that come up as the Garasias hear God's Word. Pray for hearts to be fully transformed.
Sundrarajan adds, "We are excited for what God is going to do, but we are also a little burdened to get more Bibles into the community because the thirst is unfathomable for all of us."