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Entering the Land of High Passes

The Guinness World record for the highest altitude road belongs to the "Umling La" pass in Ladakh, India (1). At its highest point, this road sits 19,024 feet above sea level (that's almost as high as Mt. Kilimanjaro, which, at 19,340 feet, is the tallest mountain in Africa)(2).

Ladakh, the land of high passes, is also the location of many more of the world's highest-elevation roads, and its capital, Leh, at around 11,500 feet above sea level, is higher than any city in the U.S. (3)(4).

Ladakh is located in the northernmost part of India, along the western Himalayas. India surrounds it to the south and west, Pakistan and Kashmir to the north, and China, including part of the Tibet Autonomous Region, to the east. Because of border tension with Pakistan and China, Ladakh has a high military concentration.

The church leaders of the North India Section, which includes Punjab, Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh sent us a request for five Bible Workers to serve in Leh, and we recently approved their request. The church leaders are currently reviewing the applicants for the positions. We are thrilled about this opportunity because there are few-to-no Seventh-day Adventists in Ladakh. These Bible Workers will be serving in unentered areas, and by the grace of God, many people will hear the Gospel for the first time because of their willingness to serve in an unfamiliar place. Serving in Ladakh will not be easy, and these Bible Workers will need a lot of prayers. Here are a few of the challenges the Bible Workers will face.

  1. Culture and language – Because these Bible Workers will be serving in unentered areas, they are being chosen from applicants in Punjab and Kashmir. Although they are close geographically, their culture and languages are very different. The majority of residents of Ladakh come from Indo-Aryan or Tibetan roots (5). The two primary languages: Ladakhi and Purkhi, originate from Tibet (6). Because Ladakh was part of Jammu and Kashmir until 2019, the Kashmiri people share more in common with those from Ladakh. The church leaders plan to send Kashmiri Bible Workers with the Punjabi Workers to help them connect and adjust to the culture.

  2. Religion – The dominant religions in Ladakh are Shia Islam (46.8%) and Tibetan Buddhism (44.1%) (7). The people have been traditionally closed off to other religious influences. The Bible workers will need to use creative methods to make friends and witness to people, such as literacy classes and health education.

  3. The weather – As you might guess from the elevation, Ladakh can get extremely cold, with temperatures reaching as low as -7 F. In the winter, the territory gets a lot of snow, and the high mountain roads to Leh are closed five to seven months out of the year (8). Many locals leave the city during the chilliest months. Because the Bible Workers are not used to such cold, they cannot stay in Leh year round. When they are not there in person, they will continue ministering to the people they have met over the phone and through other media outlets.

Despite these challenges, the church leadership is enthusiastic about sending out these Bible Workers. They hope that as a few people get to know the God of Heaven, they will be excited to share what they have learned with their families and friends and thus expand the spread of the Gospel.

Please join us in praying for Ladakh. Here are some ways you can pray:

  • For the final selection of the Bible Workers

  • For spiritual preparation for these Bible Workers as they enter new territory

  • For God to prepare the hearts of the people in Ladakh and create divine appointments for the Bible Workers once they arrive

  • For God to remove barriers for people to accept Christ

  • For the health and safety of the Bible Workers as they enter a new climate and culture

  • For God to raise up believers with a strong desire to share the Gospel with their people

If God is leading you to support the ministries of our Bible Workers in India, please click the button below.

- Contributed by Jesus for Asia


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