by CS Riggs
The Hindi language is one of the top five most spoken languages in the world! It is estimated that close to half a billion people in the world can speak and understand Hindi or Urdu, the related language that we will cover next month. Although the majority of Hindi speaking people are found in northern India, there are approximately eight million Hindi speakers living in Nepal and close to 400,000 living in South Africa. Most of the Hindi speakers in northern India live in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Delhi.
This region is also known as “the Hindi Belt,” and Hindi is the official state language of the area. Hindi is the mother tongue of many of the people living there or a secondary language for those who speak Hindi dialects in the region. The Hindi Belt has close to one-third of India’s population, even though it consists of just one quarter of India’s land mass. The cluster of people living in the Hindi Belt contains over 350 different people groups.
People often confuse the Hindi language with the Hindu religion. Though most people that speak Hindi are of the Hindu faith, there is no definite connection between the two. The Hindi language developed from ancient Sanskrit which was used in writing the Hindu Vedas thousands of years ago. The Vedas are a collection of writings that the Hindus consider to be holy.
Over the centuries Sanskrit began developing different dialects. One of the more prominent dialects was eventually called Hindustani which today breaks down into the Hindi and Urdu.
The British colonialists invented the word “Hindu” as a generic term. They applied it to all the philosophies and animistic religions found east of the “Indus” River in northern India. “Stan” means land, and when put together with the word Hindu, becomes Hindustan which means, “Land of the Hindus,” a name often given to India. The Hindustani language later developed into multiple dialects. When Pakistan and India separated in 1947, the Hindi language became an official language of India. Today the word “Hindi” in itself means one of two things: a cluster of dialects, or a language that developed from one of these particular dialects.
Today Hindi is a very strategic and influential language. As was stated earlier, Hindi is spoken and recognized as one of the main official languages of the Republic of India and is used in many governmental affairs. Many Indians consider Hindi the official language of the entire nation. One can easily say that Hindi is the most influential language in India, the second most populous nation in the world.
Most of the 350 plus people groups within this Hindi Belt are unreached with the gospel. Because of the many dialects in the region, it is very difficult to communicate the gospel to all Hindi speakers. The majority of Hindi-speaking peoples in this region are devout Hindus, taking much pride in their allegiance to their many gods. Historically, there has never been a major people group movement to Christ among Hindi-speaking peoples.
When I personally visited the Hindi Belt, devout Hindus told me that they took much pride in the fact that there had never been a movement to Christ in their region as had occurred in many other areas of India. They believed that they must preserve their culture by staying Hindu. They felt strongly that Christianity was a Western religion that could not be a part of Indian culture. This feeling was strengthened during the rule of the British colonialists (1858-1947) whom they linked with Christianity. They associated Christianity with British colonial abuses, so many had a distorted view of Christianity and the character of the God of the Bible. Hinduism had become their identity; it was a major part of their culture. They believed that becoming a Christian or believing in Jesus would be the same as rejecting their ethnic identity. They would no longer be Indian, but Western.
In sum, they had rejected Western style Christianity, but not Christ. There is a major difference. They had rejected the trappings of Christianity as a religion without rejecting the Christ of the Bible.
God has a great plan for these peoples. There are many qualities within the culture that could possibly be used to introduce the people to Christ. Creative art is one of these qualities. It is a God-given gift to the Hindi-speaking peoples. Their natural gifting in music, the beauty of their language, and the creativity of the people is something that can glorify God and touch other nations in Asia. But at this time the gospel is seldom being presented to Hindi speakers using their styles of music and art forms. Therefore, Jesus appears to be a “foreign” God.
With the Hindi Belt being one of the most unreached areas, not only of India, but of the entire globe, it is pivotal that we pray for these people. With the Hindi language’s vast influence in India, if there is a people movement among the Hindi-speaking peoples, we could see a mass move of God throughout this great nation of 1.2 billion people. Such a movement would reach hundreds of unreached people groups.
There are many needs among this Hindi-speaking region. When one looks at all of the unreached peoples in India and the small, but rapidly growing indigenous church, one can see the greatest need is simply for more laborers. In Matthew 9 we see Jesus looking at the multitudes as they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus’ answer to this was, “Pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest field.”
by Keith Carey, editor, GPD
Dear Praying Friends,
This month we will pray for the Hindi-speaking peoples of South Asia, and next month we will pray for peoples in South Asia who speak Urdu, a related language. The two languages are so similar that they can be mutually understood. However, Hindi is strongly influenced by the Hindu religion, and Islam influences the Urdu language. There are almost half a billion people who speak one of these two languages. Within the Hindi-speaking community itself, there are 350 unreached people groups; we will only cover 27 of them in this month’s issue of GPD.
The total number of unreached people groups on earth is dwindling. But we need help as we try to fulfill the Great Commission during these final days before the Lord returns. Both the GPD office in Pasadena and the Joshua Project office in Colorado need volunteers to do web searches, write people group profiles, and develop web sites. With your help we will be able to continue to reach Christians all over the world and enable them to pray in concert each day for a particular unreached people group. God has blessed our endeavor for 32 years. The number of unreached people groups has decreased from 17,000 in the 1986 to about 7,000 today. Would you like to take a bigger part in seeing these numbers decrease even more? You can make a big difference by volunteering a couple of hours of your time each month. To volunteer contact the Joshua Project at: email@example.com. or contact GPD at: firstname.lastname@example.org, (626) 398-2241.
Join a special 10 Days of prayer, Sept. 24 - Oct. 4, 2014. Uniting the Church with Jesus at the center unto global harvest. www.10days.net