Assam: Assam remains the major spiritual challenge in Northeast India. After 2 centuries of missions, Christians are only a small minority. Most tribal peoples remain unreached. Few Christians witness to the 9.7 million Muslims (who speak mostly Bengali) or the Hindu majority (who speak Assamese). The tea-estate workers are migrant peoples or tribal minorities from other states. Most are open to the gospel, but few Christians are there to share it. Pray for a new wave of loving witness, especially to those who are open to the Gospel.
India's poorest state and second highest for population density, Bihar is a byword for deprivation and misery. It ranks highest on every index related to corruption for India's states. The recent separation of timber- and mineral-rich Jharkhand Province exacerbates the already significant economic challenges. The gripping poverty is exceeded only by the lack of development and progress and by the contrast to Bihar's more glorious past. Bihar is where Buddhism and Jainism began, the seat of the great Mauryan and Gupta Empires was located and was at the forefront of India's modern struggle for independence. Its recent political history is marked by incompetence, corruption, division and communal tensions. Pray that the liberating, saving, restoring gospel of Christ might find the suffering millions of Bihar.
Long known as "the graveyard of missions", Bihar presents many obstacles to evangelization. Beside deep poverty sits widespread illiteracy, lack of resources in local languages (Bihari languages were for decades wrongly regarded as mere dialects of Hindi), strong spiritual opposition and persecution of religious minorities by the Hindu majority. The inhospitable environment, where malaria and disease are rife, spells very real danger to the lives of Christian workers. There is little collaboration among Christians and almost no Christian voice in public life. Pray that the Lord might demonstrate his powerful passion and love for Biharis through an unprecedented surge of ministry to these needy peoples.
The massive investment of personnel by Indian missions into Bihar. There are over 4,000 Indian missionaries in Bihar. GEMS (Gospel Echoing Missionary Society) has over 2,000 missionaries, and BORN (Bihar Outreach Network) has 300. FMPB, Vishwa Vani, GFA, Emmanuel Christian Fellowship Centre, OM, India Missions, NIEA, AoG, YWAM, Operation Agape and others supplement this number.
Bihar is one of the least-evangelized mega-populations in the world. There are 24 districts (accounting for 57 million people) that are less than 0.03% Christian.
- The 16.5 million Forward Caste Hindus have increasing exposure to the gospel, but little response. Christianity is associated with untouchables, tribals and foreigners. Only a few thousand call themselves Christian.
- The 16.5 million Muslims are unreached and gradually increasing as a percentage of the population. They are among the poorest and the least-reached people in the world. Some are reaching out to them, but only a very small number have become followers of Christ. As a community, they are insecure and frequently subject to Hindu mob violence.
- The 15.5 million Dalits are increasingly being reached and are responding to the gospel, but still only a small percentage (
- Bihar is 90% rural, one of the world's highest rates. Outreach and church planting must focus on towns and villages, with sensitivity to the close-knit community dynamics therein.
- Bihar is a young population, with as high as 60% of the population under 25 years old.
- Unreached peoples. There are 22 groups of over 100,000 that are unreached and as yet unengaged. Among the largest unevangelized peoples in Bihar are the Yadava (11.7m), Shaikh (8.5m), Brahmin (5.8m), Koiri (4.2m), Chamar (3.9m), Dosadh (3.9m) and Rajput (3.8m).
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.