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Indus Kohistani of Afghanistan

Country: Afghanistan
People: Indus Kohistani
Population:  41,000
World Population:  41,000
Main Language:  Kohistani, Indus
Main Religion: Islam
Bible: None
Status: Unreached
Christ-Followers: Less than 2%
Persecution Rank:  3 (1=highest)

The Kohistani tribes live along the upper banks of the Swat and Panjkora Rivers in northern Pakistan, with a few in Afghanistan. They can also be found along the east bank of the Indus River and its tributaries, which run through the Kohistan district near the border of Afghanistan. This region of Pakistan contains some of the world’s loftiest mountain peaks, deepest valleys, and largest glaciers. The British gained control of this territory around 1895, but left in 1947 when Pakistan became an independent nation. Yet, the Pushtun have dominated the Kohistani for years, either buying their land or forcing them out with violence. Today, there are several different ethnic groups living in the Kohistan region that are subgroups of the Kohistani people. They include the Turvali, the Bateri, the Galo, the Rajkoti, and the Kohistani themselves. The tribes speak several distinct Dardic dialects, but their main language of communication is Pashto, the language of the dominant Pushtun ethnic group. The Kohistani have been described as a powerful, well-built, brave, but quiet people.

What are their lives like?
The Kohistani tribes are located in the narrow valleys formed by the tributaries of the Indus, where irrigation is possible. Since the Indus River flows through a steep rocky gorge, it is useless for irrigation. The people are primarily farmers and shepherds. Grain is planted on terraced fields and bulls are used for plowing. There is very little rain, so the crops are irrigated by water channels known as kuhls, which require constant and skillful management. In the areas that are irrigated by the kuhls, the Kohistani raise barley, wheat, maize, millet, and rice, supplemented by potatoes and a variety of other vegetables. Since they can only grow one annual crop, the people rely on the “transhumant” herding of their dairy goats and cattle. This means that they transfer their livestock from one grazing ground to another with the changing of seasons. During the summer months, they leave their permanent villages and drive the cattle, goats, and sheep to alpine pastures. The surrounding mountain ranges and the Afghanistan border tend to isolate the Kohistani. Most of their settlements exist as small independent communities, located at altitudes between 1,000 and 4,500 meters. Families usually have houses in four or five different locations at the higher altitudes. Only in the winter do they live together in their compact villages, which lie along the rivers. Kohistani villages are made up of several lineages. In addition to farmers, a village population normally includes blacksmiths and carpenters who are bilingual in Pashto. There are also a number of tenant farmers and hired farm laborers. The Kohistani generally practice endogamy, meaning that they only marry within their own groups. Their societies are also patrilineal, which means that the line of descent is traced through the males. The women are not secluded, as is customary among many other Muslim groups, because they are needed to help with the farm work. The opening of the Karakoram Highway, which follows the Indus River Valley, has had the greatest economic impact on the Kohistani society. Although the extensive road-building project is providing them with greater access to the mainstream of Pakistani society, it is also encouraging the influx of Pushtun from farther south. There is a growing resentment among the Kohistani toward the Pushtun, who dominate bureaucracy in the district government. However, the government of Pakistan has created the Kohistan district in order to give the Indus Kohistani their own administrative area.

What are their beliefs?
Centuries ago, the area of northern Pakistan was primarily Buddhist. Later, Buddhism was replaced by Hinduism. However, around 1000 A.D., the Islamic faith spread through the region. At that time, the Kohistani converted from their polytheistic Aryan beliefs to Sunni (orthodox) Islam. Traces of traditional, pre-Islamic beliefs still linger in a few areas. Some of the tribes practice shamanism. They believe that there is an unseen world of gods, demons, fairies, and ancestral spirits. They depend on shamans (priests or priestesses) to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events.

What are their needs?
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, as its name denotes, does not promote freedom of religion. The country is currently closed to Christianity and is opposed to the presence of missionaries there. Fervent intercession and further evangelistic efforts must be made in order to help turn the hearts of the Kohistani toward the Truth.

Prayer Points:
* Pray that the Lord will raise up laborers who are willing to invest long term service to the Kohistani of Pakistan.
* Pray that the Pakistani Christians will gain a vision to see the people of the Kohistan area reached with the Gospel.
* Pray that the Pakistani government will be favorable toward Christians and will allow them to freely preach the Gospel.
* Pray for cooperation among missions agencies that are focusing on these tribes.
* Pray that God will raise up linguists to translate the Word of God into each of the tribal languages.
* Ask God to send medical teams and humanitarian aid workers to minister to the Kohistani.
* Pray that strong local churches will be planted among each of these tribes.
* Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group’s primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.

Download: Indus Kohistani of Afghanistan Prayer Card

Mexicans of Mexico

Country: Mexico
People: Mexican
Population: 88,351,000
Main Language: Spanish
Main Religion: Christianity
Religion Sub-Division: Roman Catholic
Bible: Complete
Status: Unreached

What are their beliefs?
Many of the Mexicans are ruled by the traditions that have been passed on to them. They have no true knowledge or understanding of God based on His revelation of Himself through Jesus Christ and in His Word. They act like lost people and idol worshippers because they have a slight fear of God and want to appease Him to gain favor based on their limited beliefs. They are ignorant of what God desires for them. Ministry to young people is vital:

  • Over 50% of the population is under 20 years of age.
  • There are 3.8 million university students in over 9,500 campuses.
  • There may be up to 600,000 street children in  Mexico City who desperately need love and help.

Prayer Points:
Women in Mexico face considerable discrimination and obstacles. Domestic violence is believed to affect one in five families. Pray for the women and children who live in fear of violence in their own homes. Pray for the abusers that they would find healthy ways to work out their frustrations and to find hope without resorting to destructive impulses. Pray for a change in community attitudes towards women, and an intolerance of domestic violence. Pray for protection for people living and staff working in dangerous areas. Pray for an end to the violence and healing and forgiveness for those in affected communities. Pray for the rural poor, that they will have the economic opportunities they desire to help feed and care for their families. Pray for the urban poor, that they will be protected from temptations of drug abuse and drug trafficking. Keep them safe, and give them the opportunities they desire to help feed and care for their families.

Download: Mexicans of Mexico Kids’ Prayer Card

Thai Central of Thailand

Country: Thailand
People:  Thai Central
Population: 20,158,000
World Population:  20,713,000
Main Language:  Thai
Main Religion: Buddhism
Bible: Complete
Status: Unreached
Christ-Followers: Less than 2%

What are their beliefs?
Theravada Buddhism was introduced in Thailand in 329 B.C. Almost all of the Thai are devout followers of Buddha (“the enlightened one”) and seek to eliminate suffering and improve their future by gaining merit in pursuit of perfect peace, or nirvana. They believe that merit can be acquired through feeding monks, donating to temples, and attending worship services. Traditionally, young men enter a Buddhist monastery for three months to study Buddhism. The Thai also attempt to incorporate their Buddhist beliefs with folk animism, a practice in which they seek help through the worship of spirits and objects.

What are their needs?
Thailand has serious public health problems. Hepatitis is prevalent and malaria is a problem in rural areas. HIV infections are epidemic in the cities. Prostitution is a pressing social problem. Approximately 200,000 to 500,000 prostitutes, usually from poor, rural areas, are forced to sell their bodies to help their families survive. Education and employment opportunities for women are limited, and many women and children lack adequate health care. Although a number of missions agencies are working among the Central Thai, more help is needed. The Bible, the Jesus film, and audio recordings are all available in the Thai language. However, only a handful of the Central Thai are Christians.

Prayer Points:

  • Ask God to raise prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are currently ministering to the Central Thai.
  • Ask God to send Christian teachers and medical teams to work among the Central Thai.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Central Thai towards       Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Central Thai.

Download: Thai Central of Thailand Kids’ Card

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