This will begin a series of informative blogs on the 40 Least-engaged Peoples according to Finishing the Task, an article published in Mission Frontiers in preparation for Tokyo 2010, a conference of mission leaders from around the world to discuss how to strategically evangelize the globe. I will do my best to investigate and add information about each group throughout the week focusing on them. I will list the population and the religion. The missionaries needed is determined by the number 50,000 population blocks within each group. A group is determined “adopted” if a mission agency took the name in 2000 at the Billy Graham conference on evangelization with the intent of starting a ministry among the LPG. So, here is the first group:
Mahisyadas of India
Missionaries Needed: 239
The Mahisyadas of India live throughout the state of West Bengal and the surrounding areas. They are ethnic Bengalis. They are a land owning caste and their traditional occupation is agriculture. Their main crops are rice and millet. The vast majority of Mahisyadas are Hindu. Lakshmi, Dharmarah, Manasa, and Shiva are the most popularly worshipped deities of the Mahisyadas. They have a relatively high literacy rate.
The Mahisyadas are considered a “Scheduled Caste” in India, meaning that they were at one time referred to as part of the Untouchables. Another word for a person belonging to this group is “Dalit” which, in Sanskrit, means ground, suppressed, crushed, or broken to pieces. An SC was traditionally a group that would be outcasted and regarded as ritually polluted, segregated from the mainstream society. These groups are usually foreignors, even those who have been settled in India for generations, nomadic tribes, criminals and lawbreakers, and Christians. Even though the caste system in India has been abolished, the social prejudice and customs still remain. The government, under the constitution established in 1950, has made great leaps in the economic and educational discrimination against such groups, but there is still much to do. Since the Mahisyadas speak and read Bengali (coming from Bangladesh, originally) as their heart language, it is a great blessing that the Bible has been translated into this language. Much work has been done among the Bengali people, pray that it would also be done among the Mahisyadas. They already understand the idea of being aliens in a foreign land – for them to understand that, as Christians, we are just residing here on Earth, it is not our permanent home, would align with their culture without difficulty.