India (MNN) — As the nomads of India, the Banjara people historically were known for not staying in one place long. Their huts and camps could be packed up and moved at their leisure. Today, the Banjara people have become more semi-nomadic, congregating outside urban areas and living off the land.
And, according to Greg Kelley with World Mission, around 90 percent of the Banjara people have never heard of Jesus Christ.
Kelley says, “They have no power, they have no water, they have no transportation, they have no medicine, access to education, they’re highly illiterate. They’re living essentially what we would think 200 years back in time, and there’s no Gospel witness. And that really is the worst of all of that. Because if I am poor and illiterate, but know Jesus, I still have the best of the next world.”
There are an estimated four million Banjara people in India, and their main religion is Islam. Although India is home to hundreds of people groups, each one has different needs and needs a specific mission focus.
“It’s important for Christians, when we’re thinking of the Great Commission, Jesus told us to go and make disciples of all nations. He didn’t say countries and He didn’t mean countries. He meant nations, which are people groups. So we need to be very strategic when we’re working in a place like India and saying, ‘Which one of the nations need to hear about Jesus?’”
The Banjara in India deal with issues of poverty. So before World Mission can be ambassadors for Christ, they need to be the hands and feet of Christ.
“Our strategy is to go to them and share some basic humanitarian [aid], rice, clothes and some medicine, because they don’t have access to that,” says Kelley.
“Then we share the Word of God on our solar-powered audio Bible [called The Treasure], because the Banjara are highly illiterate as a people group…. Just last year, we saw a new church get planted that spawned out of a Treasure listening group in the Banjara language!”
The church plant among the Banjara people was a huge milestone. Especially because World Mission would love to see indigenous Christian leaders step up and start witnessing to their own people and neighbors with the Good News they’ve embraced.
“Our goal as an organization is to see an indigenous church-planting movement,” Kelley explains. “We don’t want them just to hear about Jesus, but after they’ve been transformed by the power of the Word of God, we want them to also embrace ‘go’ so they’re not just sitting on some information and just sort of excited about their own walk with Jesus. We want them to share that Good News with others.”
Would you help World Mission send more Treasure audio Bibles to the Banjara people? It costs just $50 to send one Treasure, and each one can impact a limitless number of people!
“When we get reports back from the Banjara and other places, we hear of them listening for three and four hours at the time. Because when the sun goes down and they don’t have electricity, they don’t have anything else to do. So they’ll gather around and listen to the Word of God.”
Kelley shares, “It also takes resources about $50 to feed a family for two weeks at a time with rice and some basic clothes and medicine. So people can support World Mission in that way too!”
But most of all, World Mission would greatly value your prayers of encouragement and support.
“Our prayer is just to get more Treasures in there — the Word of God which won’t return void, which will impact the Banjara people — and having national leaders on the ground who show and express love through some tangible touches like some rice and clothes and medicine. It’s amazing how that opens the door so they are receptive to the Gospel.”