INDIA – 1,3 billion people. 330 Million ‘gods’. The Hindu influence on Indian life is easy recognizable as I disembark the local Indian airline in a warm tropical Visikapatnam with the more than 850 million Hindu’s across India.
The heat of the day follows me as we travel through the over congested city of Andhra Pradesh. Temples and ‘monkey gods’ towers 20m into the blue skies – every corner on every street brings glory to foreign gods. The 2,3 % Christians in India has very little or no influence in India as new laws were just introduced across India announcing strict regulations that would seriously limit the work of Christians in the country – with the emphasis on foreign missionaries.
In the meantime our taxi driver drives at a manic speed trying to get us to our appointments on times – we survive the ordeal only just. We pass a memorial of the Apostle Thomas who labored in India 64 AD. He gave his life for India and died in the south of India.
It is with this background that we were invited to Visikapatnam and Chenai to introduce the Harvesters Church Planting model which we have used with great success in Africa planting thousands of churches. We arrived in Vizianagaram and I was amazed to see many pastors show up in a Hindu stronghold. After our second day of training a pastor walked over to me – frowned and said: “Pastor if you believe what you have just shared about the Gospel and Church Planting I want to invite you and the team to a Hindu village. They are forgotten people and for hundreds of years were never introduced to Jesus! Will you come?” It was a risk to go and preach with a tourist visa but we didn’t hesitate as pastor Abraham was not taking no for an answer.
Friday morning late ….. we were on our way to one of the more than 870 villages in the area where you will not find any churches or any Christians. The villages were poor but heavily populated as the rest of India. Very little infrastructure was available . Even more noticeable were holy cows grazing peacefully undeterred by our visit. To eat cow meat is prohibited in India as all cows has been declared as holy gods. Entering the village it was clear that little hope existed. It was dirty …. run down and many deformed people watched us as we found a lady of peace. A group of aggressive young mean watched our movements carefully. But it was the sad and lost eyes of the children that drew my attention. We get to work quickly as a group of ladies were waiting. From all over the village people slowly gathered under a tree to see what we were up to. Pastor Abraham and Pastor Sion started off with the story of the Heart of Man chart. People were gripped by the truth of the Gospel as we shared in a culturally relevant way that Jesus is the Son of God ….. the true and only God that loves and brings salvation.
Pastor Sion calls me over and asks me to make a personal salvation and lead the group to Christ. I was amazed to see that the Holy Spirit already prepared the soil for His message. In a place where reincarnation and idols are the primary forms of belief nothing could stand between the truth of a GOD that gave his only Son Jesus so we could believe. 12 Ladies gave their lives to Christ. Immediately. Right there! I invited them to become the first church of the village ……
One lady grabbed me by the arm and dragged us into her small grass hut. “Please”, she said. “Is my house big enough for the first church?”. I laughed …. nodded and prayed. And we planted our first church ever in a Hindu village in the middle of Satan’s stronghold. Pastor Abraham smiled from ear to ear and said: “Does that mean we just planted a church?” “Yes”, I said …… “and you have 12 members already!” God is great – making disciples is more than just a command – it’s a reality and carries just as much power as it did 2000 years ago.