|Religion: Animism, Hinduism|
It was a scene witnessed over and over by India's Bhil tribes. A mob of 500 people descended on a woman accused of practicing witchcraft and stoned her to death. The eight million Bhils, one of India's ancient tribal groups known as the "first people," worship ancestral spirits as well as Hindu deities. Each village has its own sorcerers who appease the gods through rituals of witchcraft and elaborate sacrifices. According to Bhil belief, sickness and disease come from the work of evil spirits. Bhil live in great fear of the evil eye. Bhil peoples are scattered across central India, often living in remote, inaccessible parts. The Bhil love and honor their families and tribes, taking their identity from these relationships. They see the boundaries between life and death as permeable. The living feel a sense of connection with their ancient ancestors, and this gives them strength. Some Bhils in Rajasthan have come to Christ and been delivered from the power of evil spirits, resulting in the baptism of hundreds of witnesses. However, there are only a handful of believers across the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
Creator God, show the Bhils that you are the true god. Multiply the Christian workers among Bhil and other tribal people. Bring medical workers who could effectively demonstrate the power of prayer and medicine over disease.
The Maria woman and her daughter spent the day in the forest gathering honey and wild fruit while her husband hunted for winter meat. When they returned to their village, they joined the other villagers gathering to watch a cockfight. Their daughter went off to join the other girls and boys for an evening of games and dances which quickly passed the line into sensuality. The Maria worship earth gods. In fact, their priests believe that unless clan gods are continuously worshipped, the village will starve. Fewer than a hundred of the 110,000 Maria Gonds are Christians. There are no scriptures or gospel recordings in their language.
Holy God, reveal yourself to the Gond as the creator, far more worthy of worship than anything you created.
The light-skinned Lambadi gypsies of India are a tribal group related to European gypsies. Traditionally nomadic, the Lambadi have been forced to settle down in villages, farming, and construction work. Although they no longer have the freedom their grandparents had, Lambadi protect themselves from entanglements by living in small, isolated groups and shunning contact with other peoples. While some Lambadi are wealthy, others are among the poorest of the poor. Most have very little education and few can read, though some villages have welcomed literacy workers. Recently three fellowship groups were formed. When some of the new believers traveled to a distant village to minister, they found 90 other Lambadi Christians waiting for them!
Lord, establish strong, vital churches among the Lambadi, so they might be used to reach others.
|Religion: Hinduism, Animism|
Imagine a whole society, including a religion, centered around iron and fire. Such is the life of the Agaria people, one of India's tribal groups. They worship a fire god and an iron demon, whom they believe lives in their kilns. Like most of the other tribal people in the large Munda-Santal cluster, the Agaria hold to animistic beliefs and practices overlaid with a veneer of Hinduism. As the Agaria work at their furnaces and kilns each day, they pray that the gods will not fall asleep and leave them without the protection they need to prevent accidents.
Spirit, send laborers to the Agaria who would show them the living, powerful God, not only the God of iron and power but also of mercy and forgiveness. May they know you, the God who never sleeps!
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