Friday, February 28, 2014

Seeking the Sikh

Some call the State of Punjab the “wild west” of India. At least part of that reputation comes from the ancient conquest of northern India by Babur and the rise of the Sikh religion in the early 1600s. Known to be a fierce and proud people, Sikh through the centuries have endured great turmoil and conquest by many invading armies.
 The British designated the Mazhabi as a “martial race,” deeming them naturally warlike and aggressive in battle. They lauded the Sikh qualities of courage, loyalty, physical strength, resilience and orderliness. Sikh warriors were known to fight tenaciously and devise clever military strategies.
The Sikh religion emphasizes the equality of all people, and they reject discrimination based on caste, greed and gender.  Sikhism is monotheistic, and adherents believe that all religions are equally valid and capable of bringing enlightenment to their followers.
Although Sikhism teaches equality, the people live in a Hindu nation, with its caste system, that greatly affects them culturally. Once a mighty empire, many Sikh tribes today live in poverty. Among them are the Mazhabi Sikh of modern-day Punjab. They are considered to be the “lowest of the low” in relation to other people groups, known as an “untouchable” caste. They are denied contact with other people groups and have only limited access to education and resources many Indians take for granted. The government has recognized the Mazhabi as a “scheduled caste,” meaning they are given advantages through India’s program that resembles Affirmative Action. Still, poverty and illiteracy remain rampant among them.
Building upon that foundation, the Schools of Evangelism (SOEs) in Punjab and Haryana are reaching out to the Sikh. The Mazhabi have been adopted as one of ER’s “Unreached People Groups,” and a team, consisting of nine people, is already praying that they will be reached with the love of Jesus Christ.
A recent e-mail from our Punjab/Haryana SOE Director reports progress among the Mazhabi Sikh and two other Sikh tribes, the Jat and the Rai.  Among the Mazhabi, more than 2.6 million strong, students and graduates of the SOE have undertaken evangelism in 75 villages, with 240 accepting Christ! 82 have been baptized, and two Portable Bible Schools have been held to train lay leaders. Eleven Mazhabi have been trained at the SOE, and five of them are now working among these precious people. 24 cell churches are meeting, with an average of 10 people each.
These reports are only from one SOE! We know of at least one more SOE that is engaging the Mazhabi with the gospel. These encouraging numbers underscore the importance of ER’s Unreached People Group emphasis. As God’s people pray, He will continue to open doors for ministry! The Joshua Project website lists the Mazhabi as “unengaged.”  When reports of these efforts of the Punjab and Haryana SOEs are given, their status will change—ER’s partners are engaging the Mazhabi!
Would you like to join the prayer team for an Unreached People Group like the Mazhabi? Perhaps your small group or Sunday School class would join you! Send an e-mail now to If you would like to see a listing of the fifteen groups being adopted by ER, visit our UPG page on our website at: .

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blessings on the Batéké

The geography is daunting. The wild Plateau Batéké is criss-crossed by rivers, escarpments, and swamps. Roads are almost non-existent, and those that do exist are often made impassable by weather conditions. Traveling into the Plateau Batéké would be grueling in the best of circumstances; only hardy souls make the effort.
Evangelists at a preaching point on the Batéké
Among them are three intrepid evangelists trained in ER’s School of Evangelism in Kinshasa. Baudouin Finkole, Jaques Leby and Theophile Mpiambula make regular excursions into the Batéké to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. They haul heavy equipment to show the Jesus film in a two-wheel cart. Sometimes they travel by boat up the Congo River, but the rest of the journey is made on foot. The only power they use is the force of their own legs and backs to make the cart bump along rutted, muddy paths more suitable for animals than humans.

Setting up the projection screen
Why do they dare undertake such a journey? The fields are too white to leave them unharvested!  Regular reports of their efforts are received in ER’s Home office. The most recent report, from 2013, narrated seven times they had set up the equipment and shown the film. 1,045 people viewed it, which is an unusual event in such a remote region. 451 prayed to receive Christ, 251 made re-commitments, and 40 were discipled to become lay leaders. Ongoing efforts are taking place to disciple Christian leaders from among the indigenous people, and Portable Bible Schools are a primary method for doing so. 310 were engaged in Bible studies. Their statement of praise?  “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

Along the way, there are opportunities as well for the men to pray and minister with people whose access to medical help is sparse at best. One person was instantly healed from crippling back pain. He then repented of his sins and prayed to receive Christ! The team also prays with people who have witnessed first-hand the power of evil. One family was terrorized nearly every night by demonic forces. Every morning when they awoke there would be blood spattered in the foyer of their home.  The evangelists prayed, the house was cleansed of evil spirits, and the family committed their lives to Jesus. They rejoiced in being set free!
Viewing the Jesus film
This team of three was trained by a man who is no longer able to accompany them. Joseph Mongo, an SOE graduate, has been afflicted with serious physical disabilities, including a heart condition that makes the trip too grueling. In 2012, the team’s return to Kinshasa was seriously delayed beyond when they were expected. Concern and prayers mounted day by day. They finally emerged from the Batéké, reporting that their delay had been caused by Mongo’s illness. Though he cannot go himself, he continues to inspire and motivate others to go, while he continues his impactful ministry in local prisons in Kinshasa.

Years ago, when Willys and Thelma Braun were at the helm of Evangelism Resources, their hearts were burdened for the people of the Batéké. That concern remains the heartbeat of the men trained through their efforts, and there is today a light still shining to reach those precious people with the gospel. Will you pray for these evangelists?  Ask, with us, for the Lord to protect and enable them for the demanding ministry they have undertaken for the sake of the Kingdom.

Learn more about ER ministries on our website: