Introduction / History The Ashéninka Pajonal are an indigenous people group living in the grassy plateaus of the eastern Andean foothills. Historically, they have had tense interactions with outsiders suffering enslavement and devastating epidemics during the 20th century rubber boom and defending themselves from terrorist groups in the early 1990s.
The Ashéninka Pajonal have had some exposure to the gospel through various churches and mission agencies including translating the New Testament into the Ashéninka Pajonal dialect. In the last 10 years evangelical ministries have begun church planting movements and leadership training. Among the 100+ communities, there are now four to five indigenous evangelical churches in the beginning stages of development.
Where are they located? The Ashéninka Pajonal live in the central grasslands of Peru between Atalaya and Puerto Bermudez.
What are their lives like? The Ashéninka Pajonal live a daily subsistence lifestyle connected to the land, collecting enough food for 1-2 days and continually working hard to produce new food supplies. Their primary crops are manioc and maize, and some also raise coffee to sell. Since the Pajonal grasslands have few rivers and little game, the local diet centers on manioc, and food is often in short supply.
In spite of great cultural changes, they have maintained their language and traditional dress to the present day. They prefer small family units to large communities and live in simple homes with a thatch roof, no walls, and a dirt floor. Their traditional clothing is a long cotton dress with vertical stripes for men and horizontal stripes for women, and red face paint from achiote fruit is common.
What are their beliefs? The people hold to animistic views that seek to discover spiritual causes for life problems and resolve them through shamanistic rituals. In their worldview, shamans are specialists gifted at helping people understand the spirit world and heal sicknesses. The Ashéninka Pajonal believe inanimate objects and animals can have spirits that affect daily life. They fear their dead relatives, whom they believe could cause them sickness or death.
What are their needs? Animism presents a strong challenge to church planting, as new believers often mix their previous worldview with Christianity and attempt to live out both realities. The Ashéninka Pajonal need continued teaching and discipleship to develop a biblical worldview and to avoid division and broken relationships among believers.
The Ashéninka Pajonal have a strong need for better medical facilities, an improved educational system, and ethical teachers with a commitment to students’ success.
Prayer Points * Please pray that God will raise up faithful church leaders and examples who will lead their people to Christ.
* Pray for restoration and reconciliation between believers. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.