What happens when an ancient, remote Ugandan tribe hears the message of Jesus for the first time in centuries? They launch into baptisms and celebration, of course!
The Batwa Pygmies are a remote tribe living in the Ugandan rain forest and were once a largely unreached people group. Jovanis Nyirakayanje, a Batwa Pygmy himself, told CBN News that before they heard the Gospel message, “we smoked; we drank; we performed witchcraft. We were devil worshippers.”
Nyirakayanje said “It was the first time anyone had ever told us about Jesus. We were servants of the devil, but then we heard Christ died for our sins and that changed our lives!”
“We used to live like animals in the jungle,” Nyirakayanje said.
The story of how the message of Jesus made it all the way to a remote African rain forest is remarkable. More from CBN:
The Batwa were known as the “keepers of the forest.” But that all changed in 1992 when the government in the Ugandan capital city of Kampala decided to turn their habitat into a national park and World Heritage site for endangered mountain gorillas.
There are about 750 mountain gorillas in the world and 350 live within the Bwindi forest.
“The result was that the Batwa were evicted from the forest,” said Kellermann.
After centuries of living in caves and trees, the Batwa became conservation refugees — with no title to land, no food, no clothing, and no shelter.
Thousands of them walked out of the jungle to a world that turned against them.
Tugume Gerald and his wife, Barbara, decided to step in and help some of the homeless and destitute Batwa.
“People could not even give them work to do because they thought maybe these pygmies are like animals,” Gerald explained.
Couple Brings Gospel to the Batwa
The couple moved from their home in Uganda’s capital to the small village of Kisoro, located on the edge of the Equatorial jungle, to begin a ministry among the Pygmies.
“I began by preaching the message of hope to the hopeless,” Gerald said.
The result, Gerald says, was transformational. Hundreds of Batwa Pygmies heard about Jesus for the first time.
Nyirakayanje was one of Gerald’s first converts.
While they’ve managed to witness to many in the tribe, there are still tens of thousands Batwa who have yet to be contacted.
No one knows for sure, but it’s estimated that there are still tens of thousands of Batwa who have yet to hear the name of Jesus Christ.
“Just as Christ did for me, I believe His message of salvation is going to change the lives of my tribe,” Nyirakayanje said.
In the meantime, Tugume Gerald is welcoming Christians from around the world to join him in the adventure of reaching one of the most un-reached people groups in the world.
“We need people to stand with us in prayer so that God may use us more to reach as many pygmies as possible,” he said.
Watch the full report via CBN: