The Bengalis: An Unreached People-Group Since William Careyˇ¦s Early Start in 1793
The India National Director for EPIC
International, lives in the state of
William Carey, the father of modern missions, landed in
people groups and over 800 languages and dialects,
SUMMARY OF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Worldwide, Bengalis are the largest
unreached language group, numbering approximately 230 million. According
to the 2001 census, the population of
BARRIERS TO THE GOSPEL
The Bengali people are extremely proud of their heritage and community. They believe in education, have a strong work ethic and love to debate for the sake of debate. Spiritually-minded, Bengalis tend to practice their religion in a more orthodox fashion. Caste is not a primary concern for them except in marriage. Bengalis are brothers and sisters first and religion or caste afterward. For the Bengali, caste is only an indication of the work they do. Although they have a strong awareness of caste, it isn't a barrier for them socially. Bengalis of differing castes are willing to mix together quite freely.
Unfortunately, the communal pride of the Bengali is a stumbling block to the Gospel. Because most Christian work has concentrated on the tribal people and Nepalis, Bengalis feel Christianity is beneath them. Another obstacle is the lack of knowledge that most followers of Christ have of Islam or Hinduism. The Bengali people want to discuss and compare, and with little knowledge of their religion, many Believers are quickly made to feel inadequate.
PROPOSED MISSIONARY STATEGY
This is easily overcome by encouraging new Bengali Believers to reach those of their own community first. A middle class Bengali Believer is the best equipped to reach another middle class Bengali. The cell group or house church is a great blessing in this case. Because Bengalis in the same community mix freely, they will go to another's home for informal times of Bible study, discussion and worship, particularly in an urban environment. Bengalis believe in prayer and will respond positively to Believers praying for them either in a group or in their own homes.
Key elements for reaching the world's largest unreached people group include extraordinary prayer, discipleship and encouraging Bengali Believers to reach their own people. As existing Believers are encouraged to pray for those who do not yet know Christ, the Body becomes actively involved in seeing their own people reached. As people come to know the Lord, they are taught to obey the commands of the Lord Jesus as He commanded to be done in the Great Commission. Each Believer is encouraged to disciple a new Believer who in turn disciples another.
Presently, many good opportunities exist for making a lasting impact among the unreached Bengali people. Please pray and consider what steps you might make to extend the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them today. Today is day of salvation for the Bengali people!
Published in ˇ§Featured Articleˇ¨ July 2007 www.globalmissiology.org