Sunday, 30 October 2016

Pray for the Unreached

Teeming with life, gushing rivers crisscross the mountains of the north Indian state of Himachal (HP). These streams, filled with trout and buried deep in the Rhododendron forests, are framed by breathtaking, cascading waterfalls. Thousands of villages are also hidden throughout these alpine forests, tucked between the slopes of snow-capped mountains. 

A villager
Himachal is a small state, measuring about 25,000 square miles. However, 358 distinct people groups, speaking 30 different languages, reside in these Himalayan mountains. A large number of villages and tribes are still untouched by civilization, as we know it, as the mountain terrain hinders local travel.

Chandan lives in one such mountain top village, situated at an elevation of almost 10,000 feet. From the main road, it’s a four hour, arduous trek to reach his village. The twenty odd houses in this community are built of locally gathered stones, stacked one upon another. The roof is also made up of thinly chiseled rock pieces.

Chandan shared, "During winter we, at times, get snowed in for 20-30 days. So, before winter begins we stock our small huts with firewood and grains to survive the tough Himalayan winters, [just] in case we can’t get out."

For Chandan, the name Jesus Christ registers no familiarity or recognition. When asked about him, Chandan said curiously, "I do not know him. He surely does not live in any of these mountain villages.”

Mountains trails in Himachal that I walked through
Raj is another Himalayan mountain dweller. He is a shepherd. He has to trek much, looking for pastures. In some places, he has to walk on all fours to climb steep mountains, holding on to sharp, protruding rocks for stability. One wrong step could result in a deadly fall. The goats, however, are at complete ease jumping across steep rocks. Black bears, snow leopards, and other varieties of wild animals add to dangerous landscape of Himachal.

Raj's Herd
Raj belongs to the Gaddi tribe. This is primarily a nomadic, muslim community of cattle herders. Their fierce-looking shepherd dogs are famed for bravery, known to fight off bears and snow leopards. The self-sufficient existence of the Gaddi revolves around their sheep, cows, and goats. Tribe members migrate from high mountain pastures to low plains during harsh winters, escaping the scorching summer heat of the plains.

Raj and his family live in makeshift tent. He stays there for several weeks, as his herd of sheep and goats graze in the forest mountains and meadows. He knows this rocky terrain well, in fact, it’s all he knows. The challenging life of a
shepherd confines Raj to a predetermined future, yet he wants a better life for his children. Most of the Gaddi children never go to school, and medical care is non-existent in these forests and mountain tops.

The Challenge

Andrew Murray said, "We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world and can bring its power down to earth." A breakthrough can only occur when supported by the power of prayer. The words of Chandan speak to the stark isolation of countless people in Himachal Pradesh, "I do not know him. He sure does not live in any of these mountain villages."

Going on a pilgrimage
It has been two thousand years since the death and resurrection of our Lord. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 villages in India alone that does not have a Christian witness. How much longer do they have to wait?

May God will break our hearts for the unreached and oppressed peoples of this earth. And, may we begin by praying for the nations, specifically, Himachal Pradesh. As C.H. Spurgeon said, "Prayer can never be in excess."


Size: 22,000 sq. mi.
Himalayan Moutain
Population: 7.0 million
People Groups: 358 People groups
  • 95% Hindu
  • 2% Muslim
  • Less than 10,000 Himachali Christian
  • 2% Others
  • 24% are illiterate

Mountain Village at a distance: Pray for the Unreached Villages of South Asia