The Juango People of Orissa

Christian Aid seeks to establish a witness for Christ in every tribe and nation through indigenous ministries. Native missionaries have made much progress in recent years, but thousands of people groups still remain unreached.

Orissa is home to 62 tribes, 80 percent of which depend upon farming for survival. The Juango employ the outdated "slash and burn" technique, which depletes the soil after two or three seasons. Some Juango families supplement their meager agricultural earnings with hunting and gathering. Others work in steel factories or as day laborers for landowners.

Drought, floods, famine and cyclones make it impossible for the tribes of Orissa to advance economically. The cyclones, which occur approximately every 10 years, are called "speed breakers" by the locals because they destroy all efforts to make progress.

In addition to Hindu gods, the Juango worship the sun as their supreme deity. Scholars think that the Juango used to believe in God, because their ancestors worshipped Thakur Jiu, which means "genuine God." The tribe still believes in an almighty creator.

The Juango turned away from the "genuine God" when their ancestors made an oath with the Maran Buru, or "spirits of the great mountains," when migrating to their present lands. To appease the spirits, they began practicing sorcery, sun worship and other rituals.

Christian Aid supports indigenous ministries that are reaching the Juango people, a primitive hill tribe of 30,000, with the gospel.

The Juango belong to the Dalit caste, the lowest caste in India. In 2002, a native ministry leader invited 200 Dalit tribal leaders to his mission headquarters. As the Dalit leaders arrived, he and his gospel workers honored them by washing their feet and placing garlands around their necks. The gospel workers told the tribal leaders about Christ and gave each a copy of the New Testament. Several tribal leaders asked for Christian literature to distribute to their villages, and the ministry supplied over 40,000 gospel tracts.

Juango tribal leader, Sudarshan Lohar, recently invited this ministry leader to attend a village meeting. The gospel worker was able to privately share God's plan of salvation with Lohar, and left him with a Bible.

A few days later, Lohar visited the ministry leader's office holding a document filled with signatures and thumb prints. It stated that his people have decided to welcome Christianity into their village.

Lohar has since requested that this ministry start discipling the men and women of his village. In January 2005, 120 Juango people began a three-month discipleship training course.

Since 1986, Christian Aid has sponsored this ministry, which has planted 90 churches, 200 house churches and four discipleship training centers. More than 22,000 people have come to Christ through this ministry and 258 workers have been trained through a one-year program that teaches 16 different methods of planting a church.

The Juango people are once again embracing the "genuine God"; however, they desperately need Bibles in their own language. To help indigenous ministries evangelize the Juango tribe, please designate gifts to 600UPG.