Reach The Unreached


We have never seen a wedding like this

“We have never seen a wedding like this,” said the smiling cousin of the groom as he greeted Dany (not his real name), a church planter among his own Wadar people.

The Wadar are some of the poorest people in Maharashtra, India.  For many, the main livelihood is cutting rocks.

It was the wedding of Shankar, one of the first believers in a church planting work in Pune, India.  Shankar grew up as a neglected orphan, yet somehow tied an influential extended family.  The family had been happy when he had quite school to start earning a meager living as a digger.  When he accepted Jesus, he eagerly began to learn about God and obey Him.  His family pressured him to marry a Hindu girl of their choice and when he refused, they disinherited him.

When he later announced his engagement to another believing Wadar girl, a relative of Shankar’s named Hanuman showed up to confront the church planter Dany at his home, with a gun and a gang of thugs.

Dany, a former gang leader, had grown up not knowing anything about Jesus or Christianity, except that Christians were bad.  When he was a young adult he started to persecute Christians.  Eventually when he was away in another city looking for work, he learned of God and acknowledged Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and made Him lord of his life.  As a result, Dany could not go back to his home town as people there wanted to persecute him.

Later after getting married, Dany wanted to reach his own people group.  He and his wife Noel (not her real name) moved to Pune in 2001 and began a work among the Wadar.  At that time, there were over 2 million Wadar with no church or organization working among them.  They had no written language, no Bible, no Christian literature, or worship songs in their language.

“We do not want to fight,” said Dany, a veteran of many such fights, as he calmly and deliberately reasoned with Hanuman and the gang.

Five weeks later a smiling Hanuman and his family were among the few relatives that showed up for Shankar’s wedding, bringing a generous gift. Wadar weddings are often marked by loud drunken brawls, usually over the value of the gifts or the quality of food.  But this wedding was different – peaceful and full of goodwill for the bridal couple.

Shankar and his wife to be received pre-marital counseling to help them truly partner together in life, as well as in ministry.  Such an approach is important among the Wadar as the Gospel begins to penetrate the foundation of human relationships.  Helping Shankar to leave behind the model of dominating, violent, and alcoholic men, and to genuinely love his new wife is huge.

Shankar is now one of the leading elders, and in charge of one of the 4 house churches planted in the city. He is still unable to read or write but he learns and teaches through story telling.

The work among the Wadar continues to grow with more churches, a shortwave radio broadcast in Wadari and the first Wadari worship CD.  Now with 600-800 known believers, the Wadari are being reached and transformed by the Gospel.

Dany, Noel and their two daughters live in a one bedroom apartment. They are quite happy there, but all the rents in Pune are going up and they need more monthly support to help pay for the apartment and not have to move.