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Elias Reyes

Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group

The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group

By | Missions Articles | No Comments

We arrived at the airport late in evening and were whisked away to one of the nicest hotels in Bhubaneswar. In much of India, this means the room is clean, comfortable and most importantly, has air conditioning. We departed at 6 a.m. for our eight-hour journey deep into the state of Odisha to the Kandhamal District. We were there to see and visit with the Kutia people.

As soon as we reached the first Kutia village, I was swarmed by a host of young kids who are currently being taught English and Hindi (the national Indian language). I was moved as they greeted me with smiles and flowers. My hosts, Lamboi & Niangboi Suantak, proceeded to show me the fruit of their labors as they arranged for the children to sing some English worship songs. If I had closed my eyes, I would have sworn that I was sitting outside a children’s Sunday School class in rural America as they sang in seemingly perfect English.

I was among the Kutia to observe the work of New Beginning Gospel Ministry International founded by my friend, the Rev. Dr. Langkhanthang Lianzaw. Their focus is to reach out to the unreached, indigenous people groups in India. The weekend before, I had journeyed to the state of Rajasthan with Dr. Lianzaw.

Please click on the photo to see the full picture:

Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group
Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group
Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group

Their strategy to reach the Kutia people is simple: lovingly serve them. India is a complex country with 121 languages each spoken by least 10,000 people. For example, a Kutia boy speaks his native tongue of Kutia, but most in his state speak Oria, the official state language. However, to get beyond a 5th grade education, he is expected to show some level of mastery of English and Hindi (the official language of India).

Pardon the humor, but “what do you call a person that only speaks one language?” The answer, “an American.” Imagine this, the Kutia are among the poorest and least educated people, but to get ahead they must speak four languages!

To serve these Kutia villages, the workers teach these kids basic English, Hindi and, in some cases, Oria. The parents are incredibly appreciative, as this gives the kids an opportunity to get a scholarship to 6th grade and higher. To date, nine kids have been able to reach this level, which was before almost unattainable.

Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group
Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group
Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group

Known formerly as the Kutia Kondh, the Kutia are an indigenous people group who, in India, are referred to as a “Scheduled Tribe.” The Kutia are “animists”, which is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.

According to Kutia tradition, the first human, Rani Adu, and her seven sisters were born in a place called Sopanggoda under the ground in darkness. It is believed that these eight sisters became the mothers of all nations, tribes and tongues in the world. Through their children’s children the earth was filled with people.

This site is considered a sacred place, and animal sacrifices are made there once or twice per year. Human sacrifices once used to made, but they say that custom is no longer observed. According to the Kutia tradition, in the past women who attended the sacrifices were all dead within a few days. As a result, it is strictly prohibited for women to enter the area.

Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group
Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group
Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group

In India, there is believed to be over 30 million gods that are worshiped. The Kutia are no exception with the stone god, Dharni Penu, being most revered. In the middle of each Kutia village are three stones, which are worshipped as a symbolic form of Dharni Penu. They also worship Soru Penu (mountain god) and Jenna Penu (village god), Ilu Penu (household god), Malanga Penu (family god), Gonggi Penu (spring water god), and Bura Penu (sky god). Traditionally, it is crucial that each god be worshipped, as they control an important aspect of life.

What can you do to help the Kutia people? First and foremost, would you please dedicate time to pray for the 80,000 Kutia people that are living in daily fear of these evil spirits that torment their lives? Pray that their eyes would be opened to see Jesus as the one and only true God.

Second, would you prayerfully consider making a generous donation to the ministry of New Beginning Gospel Ministry International, and their efforts to reach the unreached indigenous people groups in India? Rarely have I seen such a fruitful light shining so brightly for the Lord in such a dark place. The ministry of New Beginning is a very impactful place for you to sow your generous Kingdom seed!

Thank you for opening your hearts to what God is doing amongst the Kutia in India. Together, we can make a difference in bringing the hope of the gospel to the outer reaches of this world!

Blessings!

Modern Day | Blog | The Kutia (India) Unreached People Group

Elias Reyes
President,
Modern Day

The Road to 400 Field Workers

By | Missions Articles | One Comment

It never ceases to amaze me how prospective field workers find out about Modern Day. We don’t do any traditional advertising, so people tend to find out about us in one of two ways: word of mouth from other missionaries on the field and from our partnerships with churches and other missionary organizations. As a result, Modern Day now has 400 field workers serving in 54 countries! Read More

Hawi – An Ethiopian Girl

By | Missions Articles

An amazing story from Elias Reyes, Founder and President of Modern Day

The evening before I had received an email from Michelle. The first leg of her return flight to Brazil had been cancelled. She would be stranded in Dallas for the night. I was scheduled to fly to Ethiopia the next day, and now our time at the airport would overlap for over an hour.

While waiting in an airline lounge, I received a frantic text from Michelle asking if I would come to the ticketing area to help with a problem. Because English is not her native tongue, I walked out to help. She had taken off the baggage tags, and the airline had threatened to make her pay to recheck the bags. We worked it all out, but not without tears and emotion.

In the midst of this upheaval, Michelle handed me an envelope and relayed a dream she had the night before—she had seen a young Ethiopian girl crying out for help. Michelle wanted to help, so she handed me an envelope of money with a question—could I give it to the girl in the dream?

How was I ever going to find her among millions of Ethiopian girls?

When I arrived in Ethiopia, I placed the envelope securely in the hotel room safe. Hopefully, I would know when to use it. If nothing else, I would give it to a faithful Ethiopian pastor and ask him to bless a needy, young girl.

As the trip wound down, I had almost forgotten the envelope. There it lay in the hotel safe, but I had not “found” this girl. Early that morning, I prepared for a day-trip to the south to visit one of the schools of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Woliso among the Gafat, who are Ethiopian Jews. I was eager for the trip and opened the locked-box to retrieve the envelope. Although my faith was low, my attitude remained faithful to be available to God’s purposes.

The journey to Woliso was truly outback Africa—green, mountainous, and rugged. We passed miles of native teff— the grain used to make Ethiopian bread—the staple called, injera. I sensed a kind of lonely isolation as we drove, watching the barefooted children play in the fields and the colorfully dressed women balance heavy loads on their heads or backs. I felt drawn to the beauty of this place and its people. I imagined the life before me, drained of strength and maybe even purpose because of decades of poverty and persecution.

Dotted along the way, I saw many traditional Ethiopian huts made of mud and thatched roofs. Curiously, I yearned to see one inside. But not this time, our day brimmed with many different obligations.

After two hours, we made a pit stop. As I waited, sheaves of grain mesmerized me as the wind gently waved them in the Ethiopian sunshine. I snapped a picture, amazed at the stunning beauty… And suddenly, so unexpectedly, a young girl ran out of the field about twenty feet from me. She stopped to pose for a picture with a schoolbook in her hands. Gladly, I lifted the camera and caught the moment!

A simple cow herder, she scampered back to her five cows. I wondered why she approached me with her cattle so far away? I followed her to say hi, and to my great surprise—she answered in English!

Could this be the young Ethiopian girl?

It turned out her that her mother tongue was Oromo, native to that region. Fortunately, our van driver spoke her language. Hawi was her name, and she was tending the cattle with her brother.

I had a deep sense that I had “found” the young girl of Michelle’s dream. We asked about her family, and Hawi returned soon with her father, Haylu Eshete.

Weathered and aged by years of laboring in the sun, he began sharing how he and his wife had tried to conceive five times. They cried out to God. Later, Hawi was born. Her name means, “I asked the Lord, and He answered me. He granted me the desire of my heart.”

Haylu shared that he had led a hard life working in the fields, but his desire was for his children to do better. He dreamed of Hawi becoming a doctor! We handed him the providential envelope that suddenly became so precious, and explained it was for Hawi’s and her brother’s education.

He invited us into his home where we met Meseret, Hawi’s mother. I was delighted to grab that unexpected opportunity I had longed for—to glimpse inside those mysterious, mud huts scattered along the countryside. While entering the dirt-floored room, I was amazed at how clean and spacious it was—with separate huts for sleeping, cooking, and entertaining—even wallpapered with English newspapers.

After visiting for a few minutes, time drew near to return to Woliso. As we said our goodbyes, I noted that Hawi lived near mile marker 91. Dr. Wayne Wilks, director of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, said that he had read Psalm 91 that morning and felt it was a confirmation of God’s plans for Hawi. That Psalm reveals God’s protection for us as we face the perils of life. Hawi may be hidden in the rural outposts of Ethiopia, but God saw her plight and became her refuge and shelter.

As we drove away, I was amazed at the chain of events the Lord had orchestrated. These happenings reminded me that God doesn’t need my assistance, just my availability. God’s heart had ached for Hawi and her family for all these years. God had sent us as His ambassadors to visit their home.

What plans does God have for Hawi?

In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I couldn’t help but feel that God has a special destiny for Hawi. Perhaps one day she will be a spokesperson for the rural people of Ethiopia.

Let Hawi be a reminder for us all. If He can cause a Brazilian to dream a dream, an American to stop in the middle of nowhere, and a young Ethiopian girl to pose in front of a stranger, imagine what He can do for you? God’s incredible plans for us are combined with His extraordinary ability to fulfill them!

As we headed back to the capital, Addis Ababa, I asked Pastor Deresa about the education of the children in his Woliso congregation. Sadly, he said that he had conducted a census and only 50% of the children were in school. Many parents either couldn’t afford the school fees or needed the children to work to supplement the family’s income. Please pray for these young boys and girls who desperately need to know that God has not forsaken them. If you would like to contribute toward Hawi’s education or for other Ethiopian children, please go to www.modernday.org and donate today to the Hawi Education Fund.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to the Hawi Education Fund, please click here.

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