Curiosity led Vijay to find an unengaged people group that his ministry could reach. An unengaged people group has no followers of Christ and no churches in their communities. They have never heard the name of Jesus, not even once. It is the passion and desire of ANM missionary partners to find these groups and begin visiting and engaging them with the Gospel.
Wondering if his state had any unengaged people groups, Vijay, a ministry partner of ANM in South Asia, found a group listed on the Finishing the Task website five years ago. Although Vijay has since established contact with the Takari people, locating them at first was challenging. They were recorded on the site under another name. Also, the website indicated Telugu was the official language of the Takari. But as often happens, only people ages 50 and above speak that dialect, while younger people speak other languages.
As the result of a conflict 300 – 400 years ago between two castes of people on the borders of Andra and Maharashtra, the Takari spread across India. During this struggle, they fled into the jungle. They remained in the wilderness, where they began to rob and steal to survive. As untouchables and outcasts, they were ignored and feared. Through the years, they have become very dangerous to others and distrustful of those outside their tribe.
Further inquiry led Vijay to someone within his circle of friends who knew people from the Takari, an unengaged people group. After more investigation, he discovered a small group of Takari near a city in Maharashtra. They lived in an area separated from the general population, isolated and feared. Visitors are unwelcome, especially after 6 p.m. It is well known that those who venture into the region, uninvited and unescorted, will be robbed and possibly physically harmed.
Vijay’s pastor friend knew of a few Takari whose children were attending a school. Some younger children are receiving education and breaking away from the old ways. However, it’s a struggle to leave behind all that is familiar and face possible rejection from family and friends. Three families, trying to make a better way of life for their children, were found.
Eventually, Vijay met with Lekshmi, a Takari lady about 50 years old. Lekshmi, her children, and two other families have been attending church. But they are concerned about declaring themselves to be followers of Christ. Lekshmi’s husband is still a robber and embraces the old ways.
However, like the Samaritan woman who wanted to tell her people about Jesus, Lekshmi took the pastor into the jungle. They also took the Jesus Film with them as they met with friends, hoping to make small inroads with the Gospel.
An Instant Answer for the Unengaged People Group
As Vijay talked about his ministry and region with ANM representatives, he asked that we pray for funds to further engage the Takari people. We closed the interview with prayer for that need and for God to bless Vijay and his ministry in South Asia. A few minutes afterward, Vijay excitedly shared that Thomas, the Regional Director for South Asia, had just given him the funds needed to continue evangelizing the Takari people. Faithful ANM donors immediately answered our prayer with finances to take the Gospel to the Takari. There was great rejoicing in the room and much anticipation of the Good News spreading to another unengaged people group.