Nestled inside the Indian state of Odisha, the district of Rayagada is like a step back in time. Though the region boasts some of India’s most scenic landscapes and ancient relics, it has remained untouched by the industrialization that characterizes India’s bustling cities. More than two-thirds of the population belong to indigenous tribes such as the Khonds and the Soras. And the tragic murder of a Christian missionary in the rural mountains of Rayagada years ago has left many believers wary of venturing into the community.
But Haggai leader Ramachandran Periasamy is undeterred.
Ramachandran attended the Haggai Leader Experience in 2006, and it was there that God gave him a vision to plant churches and equip church planters across India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, and Myanmar.
In the 15 years since, Ramachandran has helped plant churches in rural, underdeveloped areas and has helped plant more than 300 churches/house churches in Odisha alone. His experiences building relationships with these communities have uniquely prepared him for his team’s most recent undertaking to reach the Dongoriakondh Tribal people group in the Rayagada district. Poor and illiterate, this people group holds to a form of spiritism and worships “the mountain god.”
In 2021, after much prayer, fasting, and preparation, Ramachandran’s team headed for one of the 22 villages, Utesi. Around 100 people live in this village, accessible only by foot.
Ramachandran’s team arrived in March and, to their surprise, were warmly welcomed. They prepared chicken curry for villagers and established connections with a few families. They were able to speak to the leader of the village who invited them back and has permitted them to implement valuable social programs.
“We are so excited that now we have an opportunity to share the Gospel with this unreached tribal people. I am so excited at what God is doing in remote places. We are planning to set up a tuition center and conduct medical camps there to establish more contact and eventually share the Gospel.”
For Ramachandran and his team, their warm reception in Utesi has opened a door to minister to the other villages in the locality, and years of church planting have taught them to win the favor of the people through relationship building if they want to credibly share the Gospel.
With this in mind, Ramachandran and his team are sending an equipped couple to set up a tuition center for the children in Utesi. This couple will live in the village and will partner with the village leaders. With no educational program or toilets, this couple will provide basic education and hygiene courses, breakfast, and toiletries. Ramachandran and his team are also beginning a partnership with a Christian hospital in the neighboring town of Bissam Cuttack to send a team of doctors to take care of the people’s medical needs once a month.
Please pray for Ramachandran and his team as they equip leaders, meet real needs, and reach those living in Gospel poverty in the remote regions of Asia.