Introduction / History
Unfortunately the history of the Tangkhul tribe is not written in the early days. Still then, history can be read and understood through oral conversation, songs and cultures of the people. The Tangkhul people belong to the Mongoloid race that came from the East and this has been agreed by all the Tangkhul.
Where Are they Located?
The arrival of Missionaries in the hills of Manipur to 'civilize the savage' marked the beginning of profound changes in their ways of life. Tangkhul's speak more than a hundred dialects among themselves, one readily intelligible to those of the neighboring areas but may not be to others further in geographic spread.
Most of them live in Manipur's Ukhrul district in North East India. These days many Tangkhul youngsters are staying in different cities of India where they study or work. They may be far away of their hometown but they love their people, its culture, food and language! In most of the cities you can find a Tangkhul church!
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Tangkhul are basically agriculturists, but they do run small scale industries in the village level. Their limited sources of income and resources could not meet both ends and sooner they were reduced to a people living below poverty line. Even to this day, they have yet to pick-up with the trends of modern economy. The main sources of income of the people can be broadly divided into agriculture, industries, forest wealth, river wealth and a very primitive animal husbandry method. Tangkhul's are music lovers and their songs are soft and melodious.
What Are Their Beliefs?
There are also thousands and thousands of Tangkhul's outside of Manipur. Almost every family has at least one of their children who is staying in places like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Dehradun, Calcutta, Chennai or one of the other major cities of India where they are studying or do have a job. Many of them are working in call-centers. The Gospel brought education and as they are quite well educated, smart, good looking, have good moral and often speak good English they have the opportunity to have well paid jobs what gives them the opportunity to support their families back home. This is one of the fruits of the Gospel coming to them as education was introduced to them by Alice Pettigrew, William Pettigrew's wife, the first missionary to them, but very few young people will give the glory to God! Christianity became for many of them not more as a part of their tradition.
Ukhrul district is the birthplace of Christianity and Western education in Manipur State, brought as early as 1896. Those days the Tangkhul's were known to be head hunters but the Gospel brought an amazing transformation. William and Alice Pettigrew established the Mission School in Ukhrul, translated the Bible into the Tangkhul language and baptized the first 12 Tangkhul. In less than half a century almost 99% of the Tangkhul's were converted to Christianity and many of the other tribes living in the North-East of India have embraced Christianity as a result of this. There are different denominations but most of the Tangkhul's are Baptist or Roman Catholic.
What Are Their Needs?
Majority may have embraced Christianity but Christ and His commands became for many Tangkhul's more a tradition as a reality to live for.
In India Manipur is the state with the highest percentage of drug and alcohol addicts and HIV and aids affected and inside Manipur Ukhrul district has the highest percentage. This is a result of 'giving freedom' and of not having (or giving) time to the children and of lack of discipleship in the church. Mainly we can say that this is understandable as life is very hard. Most of the things are still done by hand. Getting water out of a well, washing clothes, cooking on a wood fire, cutting wood … it keeps people busy and keeps them away from caring for the heart of the children and to disciple them.
Most of the church leaders have a good Bible knowledge but sadly have more zeal for their church programs than for the unreached that still have to be reached. Most of them show little or no interest in missionary activities among the unreached and therefore also fail in training youngster to do so.
Many Tangkhul's still go to church but also many take it for granted and therefore also many children don't go to church or Sunday school anymore. If we are not going to take discipleship and ministry to the children belonging to the 4-14 Window (ages 4 to 14) serious the Tangkhul's will be on the list of unreached people in about 40 or 50 years!!!
* For a revelation of God's heart for the unreached.
* Biblical discipleship and church leadership.
* For God's Spirit to influence and transform the community in all 7 spheres of society. (Family, government, religion, education, celebration (arts, sports and entertainment), media, business and economics)
* For Christian social workers to work among the drug and alcohol addicted people.
* Divine comfort for the victims of AIDS.
* For the children and youth (4/14 Window) to be reached, revived and released into Kingdom ministries