The Shin of India
India is a complex mosaic of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and social groupings. Because of this diversity, it is extremely difficult to adequately describe any single people group. Ranking second only to China among the world's most populous nations, India has a population of more than 935,000,000. The overall population density is about 762 people per square mile.
India may be divided into four main regions: the Himalayas, the northern river-plains region, the Deccan, and the Eastern and Western Ghats Mountains. Because of numerous geographical features, climatic conditions vary greatly on a seasonal and regional basis, ranging from tropical to temperate extremes.
In the midst of this complexity can be found the 12,700 Shin. They are located mainly in the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir. Their language, Shina, is a member of the Indo-Aryan language family. Little is known about their specific lifestyle and culture.
What Are Their Lives Like
About 73% of India's population lives in rural areas and is engaged in some form of agricultural activity. Many are farmers barely growing enough to survive. Farms are extremely small in size and often very fragmented. The raising of livestock, particularly horned cattle, buffalo, horses, and mules, is a central feature of the economy. Because of Hindu influence, however, these animals are used almost exclusively as beasts of burden rather than sources of meat.
Indian culture is primarily Hindu-oriented. Many Hindu institutions, including the rigid caste (social class) system, have wide-ranging effects on Indian secular society. The word "caste" basically means breed, race, or kind. Indian society is divided into hierarchical castes that are usually endogamous (marriage only within the caste). Castes may be defined by occupation or by kinship and lineage, although there are exceptions. Nevertheless, caste is so fundamental to the social organization of India that it prevails in all parts, except some of the tribal populations.
The Buddhist groups in India today have either migrated from neighboring Buddhist countries or live along the borders with those countries. However, their basic lifestyle is not very different from the Hindu population. Only their religious practices differ.
Little is known about the specific lifestyle and culture of the Shin in India. Further research is needed to clearly identify their needs and to develop strategies for seeing them reached with the Gospel.
What Are Their Belief?
The Shin are 35% Buddhist in their religious practices. Buddhism is a religion focused on suffering and how to escape it. The world view of Buddhism (especially Theravada Buddhism) is based on the belief that life is unpleasant. Like Hindus, Buddhists believe in reincarnation, or a continuous cycle of death and rebirth. The amount of suffering a person experiences in this life is thought to be based on their behavior in the last life. The goal of life is to avoid practices that will lead to a lower position in the next life. As ties to this world weaken, Buddhists hope to achieve "enlightenment" and to enter a state of perfect peace and bliss known as nirvana. This is the ultimate goal for Buddhists, as all existence is regarded as a burden.
There are four main Buddhist "paths." Theravada Buddhism is known as the "narrow path," and devotees see themselves as the keepers of Buddha's teaching. Mahayana Buddhism is known as the "wide path" and is much more liberal in its belief system. Vajrayana, or Lamaistic, Buddhism is practiced mainly in Tibet and is known as the "bright path." The fourth path is Zen Buddhism, the "quiet path," and is the dominant form of Buddhism in Japan.
What Are Their Needs?
The Shin have portions of the Bible available in their own language, and there is one missions agency currently targeting them. Intercession and missions efforts, however, are still necessities if a strong, local church is to be planted among the Shin.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into India who can minister to the Shin in culturally relevant ways.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to anoint the efforts of the missions agency that is working among the Shin.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, the Jesus film, and evangelical literature will be made available to the Shin.
- Ask the Lord Jesus to reveal Himself as the "true path" to the Buddhist Shin.
- Pray that key leaders among the Shin would make decisions for Christ and boldly witness to their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Shin bound.
- Ask God to raise up intercessors who will faithfully stand in the gap for the Shin.
- Pray that strong local churches will be established among the Shin by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Shin
- Country: India
- Their language: Shina (Gurezi)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 3
- Scriptures in their own language: Poritions
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 1
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 1,700 (14%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 11,000 (86%)
- Country: India
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 8
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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