Behind her sombre eyes and exotic beauty lies a story whose ending is yet to be written. Her name is India, one of the oldest nations on earth. Her children, young and old are born to destinies determined by man-made castes. The fortunate inherit immense wealth, privilege and the highest social standing. The lesser, through no fault of their own, are doomed with the curse of “social lepers,” sentenced in most cases to a life of severe poverty.
Second only to China in size, India’s population of 1.2 billion is a mixed conglomeration. Polarizing social and economic ranking, diverse languages and religions—feed varying degrees of hostility. These challenges, coupled with the sheer size of this giant nation, make India one of the most difficult areas of the world to evangelise.
This year, EHC celebrates 50 years of ministry in India. The work has been rewarding and sometimes difficult for our more than 436 missionaries and staff, intent on bringing the light of Christ to their nation.
Much prayer and fasting cover their efforts as they boldly take the Gospel door to door. It’s not unusual for them to travel many miles by foot or bicycle in the extreme tripledigit heat to reach rural villages where no roads exist.Often, they’re met with hostility from angry mobs who chase them out of their villages, tearing up the Gospel literature they came to share, sometimes beating them before running off. One EHC team recently had such an experience. Though they’d been told that several years ago a gospel team was brutally beaten by anti-Christians in a remote village, they felt strongly about reaching this area for Christ. After leaving gospel literature at a couple of homes, they observed a group of angry men watching them. “Who gave you permission to distribute Christian material in this village?” they shouted.“Don’t you know this is a Hindu village?” Snatching all the literature from the hands of the missionaries, they tore it up and threw it on the roadside. With threats to their lives, the volunteers were run out of the village, quickly realizing they were being followed by men on motorbikes. As one of them took off his shoe to beat the group, the missionaries cried out to God for protection.
Fortunately, they were able to escape— manhandled, but not seriously injured. Such incidences only fuel the fire that burns in the hearts of EHC workers as they trust God for their protection and ask the Holy Spirit to penetrate the darkness of their nation. Undeterred, EHC workers are continually striving toward reaching every person in this vast nation.More than 275 million homes have been visited, one at a time, by EHC workers and volunteers whose hearts beat to transform their nation with the Gospel of Christ. They know full well that the bondage of centuries of idol worship is not easily broken in a nation where 80 percent of the people practice Hinduism. Of those home visits, 9,439,221 people have responded to Christ. What drives these workers? A passion to reach a new generation in India for Christ—it will be the youth of their nation who courageously break away from the religion of their ancestors, that will transform their nation. Though India is an open nation according to the law, persecution often accompanies the work of the Gospel. More and more Christian families are being targeted with beatings and destruction of their property. Recently, in one such attack several Christian families lost all their possessions, including one EHC worker. Another such attack sent hundreds of Indian Christians fleeing into the jungles as their homes were being destroyed by angry extremists. In the face of persecution, EHC India continues to go home to home with the Gospel seeing as many as 158,967 responses each year. The Regional Director of EHC India says, “It is because of God’s grace and guidance, with the prayers and support of God’s people, that we can share the Gospel of salvation to those who are seeking the truth. The ministry faces challenges and hardships, but God ‘turns them into opportunities for us to pray more and to serve even more passionately in hard times! We praise God that in spite of challenges, opposition, and persecution, EHC workers in all Indian states continue to serve.” Amid these enormous challenges,the winds of’ change are blowing. A glimpse of a “new India” is emerging from the rubble. Partly due to advanced opportunities for education and technology, and partly due to a growing hunger for truth, more and more young people are rejecting the gods of their ancestors and embracing the love of Christ. Among a population where more than half are under the age of 35, a bold new generation of believers is emerging.
Now with more than 71 million Indians claiming Christianity, the number of those claiming the Christian faith in recent years increased to 2.2 percent. These new believers and the EHC workers who minister to them need your prayers. Pray for the courageous young people who have defected from their ancestral faith and have been ostracised from their families. Pray for churches and most of all, pray for God to continue to pour out His Spirit on India, a nation deeply in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the India Every Home for Christ 50th Anniversary Eric & Lorraine Leach meet with a family they have personally supported financially and prayerfully for14 years. The father, Ramanjaneya, is on the India Every Home Crusade staff. It was a great joy to meet with Ramanjeya and his family. In the last year Ramanjaneya visited 1,052 houses and shared the Gospel with 2,465 people. He also organised the distribution of 10,000 tracts and 148 people came to the Lord with 25 ready for baptism and 3 Christ Groups were formed. At Christmas 600 people were expected at his church.
Another family Eric & Lorraine enjoyed meeting and who they have known for some 30 years is Brother Meshach Emmanuel and his wife Esther, and now their children, Sam and Sweety. Meshach is the EHC Director for Tamil Nadu and God has used him mightily to lead a large team of EHC workers and build many churches. It was a great joy to celebrate 50 years of India EHC with so many people who did so much!