Banjara Tribal Ministries (BTM) works exclusively among the Banjaras, a tribe of millions of gypsies spread over many states of India. The Banjara are one of the least evangelized and most neglected people groups in the world. Most Banjaras live in abject poverty, with the adult illiteracy rate at a staggering 88%. Fewer than 1% are Christian. Considered untouchables, the bottom of the caste system, most live in remote rural villages or city slums, finding only menial labor open to them.
Into this seemingly hopeless situation, God called Christopher Boda and his wife, Rambai. Both are Banjaras, as are the gospel workers who now labor with them. Literally born in the mud, and one of ten children, Christopher was taught to worship Hindu gods.
When Boda was four, a kindly Anglican priest brought him to live in a Christian boarding school. In his teens Boda suffered a serious leg injury. It seemed it would be necessary to amputate his leg. A Christian doctor prayed for healing and shared the gospel with the young patient. Hearing of God’s love for him for the first time, Boda accepted the Lord. His leg healed as well as his soul.
Returning home some time later to share his new faith, Boda came up against his angry Hindu father and relatives. They beat him unmercifully in an attempt to make him turn away from his new faith. Fleeing home, Boda later attended Bible school. After graduation he began Banjara Tribal Ministries. “The Lord has blessed us and is using us to bring many Banjaras to Himself,” Boda said.
Banjara Tribal Ministries is located in the state of Andhra Pradesh near the city of Hyderabad. The primary focus of the orphanage is the Banjara children also know as “The Untouchables.” Many of these low caste children have been abandoned, orphaned or simply turned over to the BTM staff because parents lack the ability to care for them. These children come to the orphanage naked, hungry, and in great need. The BTM staff is committed to providing care, education, and biblical instruction to each of the children.
The orphanage provides government recognized schooling which the children attend six days a week. Along with education and biblical training, each child is involved in a very structured daily schedule. From washing clothing to daily chores, each child is responsible to be clean and on time for all activities. Many of these children have never experienced any type of structure or order in daily living prior to their enrollment in the orphanage.