Letter from an evangelism worker in Nepal, where such Christians are often misunderstood and not trusted by the officials. We are very sorry that these conditions make it ill advised to use the worker's actual name, place names and other details. But there is still enough left to give an idea of a difficult place.
Praise the Lord in the Name of Jesus Christ and greetings,
I am really thankful to our God that He has been using me to serve in Nepal. As I joined in this ministry, I came to learn so many things and still I am learning. It is my privilege to work here where God is blessing me through His people.
I have been doing different activities like to going to villages, to set up and participate in distribution of the tapes, making contacts for recordings making copies and other things. After some training, I have been able to work among several people groups, some in remote places not served by roads or electric power.
On a recent trip I tried to find out more about a tribal people called the I---. I would like to share all this information with you as it will to you about peoples "in the field" here. Please pray for my ministry and me. Thank you for all your help and support for me whether prayer or otherwise.
In Christ's service,
SURVEY OF THE I--- PEOPLES
Nepal is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual country, where many cultures have been developing within tribal people groups.
The small country is divided into three geographical areas (regions). First is the Mountain region, which is full of snow covered mountains. On this region Sherapa and Tibetan people. Second is the Hill region. More than 55 % of the land is covered with hills in this country, so there are many separated ethnic people and languages spoken in this region.
The Third is the Plain land (Tarai region). Mostly this land is used for the agriculture and it produces rice, wheat and vegetables. Tarai region is different by cultural, language and lifestyle compared to the other two regions in Nepal. In summer time this land gets very hot and humid and sun dictates that people wear light dresses.
I--- is one of the ethnic groups of Nepal. This tribal people live in central Tarai region and nowadays some of them start to migrate in hillsides (Damauli) as well. The largest town of the I--- group is less than 200 households. Their total population may be about 10,000.
The village I surveyed was a few more than a hundred buildings, each with five to 10 family members including the children and old men. Only one young man in the village had ever been to college.
There is a system of castes within the I---, although they don't usually express this among strangers. This makes it more difficult to know how to address each of them without making mistakes they would thing are rude or in bad taste.
From hard field work, the I--- appear dark and muscular. They are shy and provincial by nature. They are frightened of other people and do not want to expose themselves to others. They live in joint families with grandfather to grandsons. Some of them have a very big family about 20-50 people and they use one kitchen.
The grandfather or father will be the head of the family, who take care of them for everything. When they need to make any decision in the family, the father will take a decision. The using authority goes to the eldest son after death of head father. Mostly the men are work in the field and making money, provide foods and stuff in the family. But, women are mostly work in the house but they help to men as well when the time for planting rice and other things.
They make their small house like cottage. Making a house, they just use clay, straw and bamboo. They mix clay and bamboo together for the wall. They use straw - wheat straw as for roof. Actually, they make very simple and small house to live. But, one thing is very interesting of them to know that, while making the house they make kitchen as well which is build separately near the same house. But nowadays, many of them have been changing their culture, tradition and lifestyle. Even they stay with nuclear family they do not go to live far from their other family members and relatives. They live as in a small groups around same villages.
The language of the I--- is unclassified into Indo-European, Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan. This language does not have written form. They say that they feel very proud of their language, but they speak a regional (trade) language and Nepali as well. I did find one book referring to the I--- history, but was printed in the trade language's alphabet.
The I--- language is important to them, and it is getting more use due to being broadcast on a small local radio outlet.
This people says that they follow Hinduism and they are all believes in Hinduism. When some one dies in their house, they have to worship his/her soul. If they do not worship to the death-soul, their belief says that the death-soul will come to scare them, give trouble in the home and people will get sick. That's why they go to river and jungle to please or worship the death soul. The belief is that the appeased death-soul will go to heaven and then it will not come to give any trouble again.
Sacrifice is also one of the main parts of this people's tradition. When they get sick, they go to a witchdoctor and make sacrifices as witchdoctor says. Chicken, pigeon and duck are sacrificed to the devil spirit. After doing this kind of sacrifice, the devil will leave the man and people will get well from the sickness. This is how I--- people believe in their religion and follow the tradition.
(Here follows a description of the local Baptist church which was started in an I--- village, but we must omit this for the believers' protection. Most of the population shunned, if not abused, the Christians and call theirs a religion of the untouchable castes.)