By Treva Houser
AFM Administrator/Prayer Coordinator
The journey actually began during a Prayer Walk in northwest India in October 2012. The sights, scenes and smells, images of faces and India’s people have never left me. All of those things you hear about India, yes, are mostly true, but it is also a land rich in color, landscapes, tastes and sounds you will never experience anywhere else in the world. And though India is home to numerous Unreached People Groups (UPG), it was one, in particular, that captured my attention.
One can see this UPG herding their sheep, goats, camels, cows and buffalo across the busy highways, searching for pasture to feed their cattle. At one time, not too long ago, they lived a nomadic lifestyle and moved wherever the pasture was greener and were a part of India’s mainstream. Not until the 19th Century did the British consider them as vagrants and outsiders and this attitude toward them remains until today. Those who have lost their livestock because of the lack of pastureland and the increased population have clustered into the slums to survive.
During my visit in 2012, I met a single mom Parma (an alias name per her request), who is the only missionary working in northwest India with this UPG. We have since prayed together via Skype and emailed for two years for this particular UPG. Parma brought us out to this dusty village two years ago . . . and I returned again, for the second time, just three weeks ago. This visit was not much different than in 2012, other than they remembered the white western lady; but this time I brought my husband, David. Women hold little value in this area in India, therefore, David’s presence provided the credibility we needed. The people in this village were delighted to show us their homes, offered us places to sit and feed us, they dropped all of their work to welcome us. Sometimes three to four generations live within one home. These dwellings are probably the size of your living room! We took lots of pictures and laughed with them as they enjoyed seeing themselves in the photos.
Parma, who accompanied us to these villages and acted as our interpreter and excellent hostess shared many stories of heartache and miracles. She has a tremendous heart for this unreached people who are considered to be outcastes by their own people. Conversion is against the law in India and therefore one way Parma reaches out to these people is by way of tutoring English. The tutoring offers the opportunity to poor out the love of Christ over them. When Parma first tried to teach one particular woman in the village to write, the woman grasped the pencil like an ice pick. Parma then gently placed each fingers in their proper location on the pencil to begin.
Parma also reaches out to these people by way of Medical Camps. Many of the women who were raised in the country are quite tall and very healthy. However, since they began moving to the city, many of their children are malnourished and thus small. A child raised in India is far more likely to be malnourished than one from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, or Somalia, the planet’s poorest countries.
One of our many goals of this trip was to build on our relationship with Parma and see where we could join her in the work that the Lord has already started. We were blessed with an awesome time with her in prayer and visiting the UPG in the many villages all over northwest India. We plan to continue this relationship with our sister across the pond and help finish the task the Lord has placed before us to take the gospel to the nations.
For more information on this Unreached People Group, or to partner with AFM in India, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.