Unengaged Unreached People Groups
"After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." Revelation 7:9
Praying for UUPGs in South Asia
Every year, we send multiple teams to South Asia to engage and train local believers to engage the city with the gospel. We learned this year that there are currently 69 people groups in one state alone (Karnataka) that are both unengaged and unreached with the gospel. This means there is not a single known church in that people group. More than that, these 69 people groups only include those people groups that number over 10,000 in population. This is why South Asia holds the highest concentration of lostness on earth. Without hearing and believing the gospel, each soul represented in these numbers will spend an eternity separated from Christ. What can YOU do? You can pray! The only way we will see this number go down is for the Holy Spirit to do a powerful and miraculous work, and that starts with believers on our knees.
What is a people group?
An ethno-linguistic group with a common self-identity that is shared by the various members. For strategic purposes it is the largest group within which the Gospel can spread without encountering barriers of understanding or acceptance.
Why are they unreached?
A people group is considered unreached (UPG) when there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage this people group with church planting. Technically speaking, the percentage of evangelical Christians in this people group is less than 2 percent.
Who are the unengaged?
Unreached people groups are unengaged (UUPG) when there is no church planting strategy, consistent with evangelical faith and practice, under way. Gathering believers and planting churches are the keys to establishing an effective and multiplying presence among these people groups.
January 2019 | Bania
The Bania people are one of the largest unreached people groups not just in India, but worldwide. In fact, they are the 17th largest unreached people group in the world. They number 753,500 just in the state of Karnataka alone and speak multiple languages. The word Bania comes from the word for trader or merchant. Banias generally worship the Hindu god Vishnu who they believe preserves and sustains the world. Let’s pray that the Banias hear and believe on the Son of God who the writer of Hebre ws says, “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
February 2019 | Jains
Jains follow the religion of Jainism whose goal is to achieve complete perfection and purification of the soul to receive liberation. To achieve this total purification, they follow strict religious rules. They do not eat meat or any kind of ‘root’ such as garlic, onions, or potatoes, and their monks and nuns will wear masks and sweep the path in front of them as to not inhale or step on an insect accidentally. At the end of their life, as a part of this extreme non-violent belief, Jains might even fast until death, starving themselves, in hopes of attaining complete purification. Let’s pray Galatians 5:1 that they would know this, “It is for freedom Christ has set us free.”
March 2019 | Bestha
The Bestha people have historically been known as fishermen and hunters, but these days they may also be farmers and cooks. They speak Telugu and are Hindu. Many Besthas worship the god Hanuman, the monkey god. In Karnataka alone, there are over 400,000 Bestha people, and there are no known believers. This month, pray that the Bestha people would hear and respond to the gospel, that they would be burdened for their own people, and that they would obey the Jesus’ command to be “fishers of men.”
April 2019 | Hatkar
The Hatkar people live primarily in the states of Maharashtra and Karnataka. They are part of the herding caste and are mainly nomadic shepherds. They are Hindu and worship a variety of gods, and since they are nomadic, they tend to be less educated and are less connected to a local community as they move place to place. Please pray that the Hatkar people would seek the good news and find the Savior, like the shepherds in Bethlehem, and like them, would share this good news with everyone they come across. Pray they would know the Good Shepherd who has laid down His life for them.
May 2019 | Bharadi
The word Bharadi comes from the word “bharad” which translates into song or dance. The bharadis have been historically asked to perform traditional dance and song at weddings or other religious ceremonies. This can include a “ghondal” dance and involve a special kind of drum, sometimes lasting hours at a time. They are Hindu and primarily speak Marathi. Please pray that the Bharadi people would exchange the object of their singing and dancing to the One true God. “Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!” Psalm 149:3
June 2019 | Maheshwari
Originally the Maheshwari people are from Rajasthan, a state in northern India, but they have migrated and settled all across the country. The word Maheshwari literally means “great goddess” as they worship the goddess Parvati and her husband Shiva. They even have a holiday called Mahesh Navami when they specifically worship them. These days they are typically businessmen and are spread out all over the world. Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forsake faithful love.” Let this not be true of Maheshwaris; let us pray that they would turn and know true and faithful Love.
July 2019 | Garodi
The Urdu-speaking Garodi people are part of a larger community of Sufi Muslims living in India. Sufis follow a folk version of Islam that focuses on spiritual power and worshiping at shrines of dead saints. The Garodi people are known to be traveling entertainers as they train animals to do tricks, do magic shows, or juggle as a way to make a living. The Garodi people are no strangers to the spiritual realm, but unfortunately they do not know the One who holds all dominion and authority over all the spiritual world. Let’s pray to that end.
August 2019 | Dasari
The Dasari people are primarily farmers and traders. They are Hindus and historically have been called upon to perform certain Hindu rituals and ceremonies at funerals and other functions. These rituals often involve playing a leather drum. Historically, those who were sick or barren would come to Dasaris for healing as they were known to be possessed by spiritual power. Please pray Romans 12:21 for the Dasari people that their hearts would be enlightened and that the good news of the Gospel would overcome evil in their lives and those around them.
September 2019 | Chakali
The Chakali (Rajaka) people have traditionally washed clothes for a living and have been called upon in their culture to perform religious duties other castes see as unclean. This might mean they clean the house after a mother has a baby to make it religiously clean again, or sometimes they are called upon to clean the house of someone who is deceased so it can be occupied again. Please pray for the Chakali people that as they do these rituals, they would come to know Christ who was made “dirty” for our sin so we could be washed clean. Pray that they would know the true God that does not require a ceremony to have a relationship with Him.
The Baig people originally came from the Persian region who invaded India and created the Mughal Empire. From the 1500-1800s, the Baigs were considered to be royalty and were kings, sultans, and army commanders. Today, though India does not officially recognize their political authority, these royal people groups are still considered upper caste and have significant wealth and land in India that has been passed down to them. They are Muslim and speak Urdu. Please pray that they would be discontent in their wealth, possessions, and status and search for more. Pray that there would be dreams and visions of Jesus Christ calling them to repent and follow Him.
The Chenna Desar people are a lower caste people group in Karnataka. They are known to be mostly beggars though some make money through farming or other kinds of daily labor. Because of this, they are considered lower caste and face discrimination and hardships in their community. They are Hindu and primarily worship the gods Hanuman and Yellamma. Please pray that the Chenna Dasar would know the truth of this verse, “I know the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the case of the needy.” Pray that they would find their salvation in Jesus Christ alone.