The phenomenon termed ‘Church Planting’ is a concentrated exercise of Evangelical Missionaries from the US and UK focusing on spreading the beliefs of the Christian faith in India.
Most Christian missionary organizations from the US and UK have put the map of India on their mission chart for spreading the Christian faith and bringing the Indian locals into accepting the teachings of the Evangelists.
GoaChronicle investigations team has mapped over 110 Evangelical organizations with a ‘Church Planting’ mission on and in India. The mission is robust and fervent.
Just like a gardener plants seeds across a garden in hope of seeing a seed grow into a tree and bear fruit; Evangelists have over the years focused on India as a garden to sow the Christian faith through the planting of Churches across India.
In the words on the website of a prominent missionaries organization – Mission India
“Nearly 265 million people live on less than $1.90 per day, left powerless in poverty. Nearly one in four Indians cannot read or write, hindering day-to-day activities.
When they face life’s greatest challenges, millions of Indians are left hopeless and in desperate need of the Savior. More than those in any other nation, the helpless poor of India stand in need of the hope and life that Christ offers.
Why India? Because God loves this nation. And He has called us to bring His light to spiritually dark places.
Though 400 million people in India have never heard the name of Jesus, hearts are open to the Good News like never before! “
The Gospel for India – Reach The Unreached At Any Cost, states, “The purpose of this ministry by Gospel for India is to reach new generations and new people groups with the Word of God and establish congregations with strong traditional values with Biblical foundation. These new churches are also a field to surface efficient and strong spiritual leaders with deep gospel orientation.
It is with this vision that Gospel for India has trained and sent out 502 native missionaries in various parts of India and planted about 200 churches plus over 700 home groups”
Glad Tidings India opines on India, “India, a land of contrasts, has many millionaires, billionaires, and some of the most gold in the world. But India is also the land of :
* Most number of destitute, illiterate people
* Most malnourished people, especially children
* Most people living in modern slavery
* Most unreached people groups, over 2,000 out of 2,295 (90.5%) people groups in India are unreached
* Most discarded people on earth
* Most number of people on earth
* Most number of people without access to clean water
India is also:
* One of the most difficult places on earth to be born a woman, due in part to infanticide, child marriages, and girls being married at an early age and dying during childbirth
* On the list of 5 nations having the world’s poorest people
The unreached people groups we work with have never heard of the Living God, are slaves to depravity, and have no hope in this life or for eternity.”
Here is what Christ for India states, “There are now over 215 congregations established throughout the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, Orissa, and Chattisghar, with more than 22,200 members. NTC supports the pastors in the field until the congregation grows large enough to be self-supporting. Many pastors are praying for a permanent place of worship. Would you consider helping build a church in India? Your gift can help us build a simple, sturdy church building that can be used for worship, discipleship, and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the unreached areas of India.”
The ‘Dalit’ Focus
The main community focus of the ‘Church Planting’ organization is the ‘Dalit’ community in India.
The Jordan Lewis Ministries are of the view, “More than 160 million people in India are considered “Untouchable”—people, tainted by their birth into a caste system that deems them impure and less than human. Human rights abuses against these people, known as Dalits, are legion. A random sampling of headlines in mainstream Indian newspapers tells their story: “Dalit boy beaten to death for plucking flowers”; “Dalit tortured by cops for three days.”
OM another evangelical organization claims it needed to respond to the hundreds of millions of poor and marginalized in the country, specifically the lowest caste of Indian society: the Dalit-Bahujan people, or ‘untouchables’.
“The cry of the Dalits and other poor, marginalized people of India is for freedom,” said Joseph D’souza, Moderator Bishop of Good Shepherd Church of India. “This earnest plea is an appeal for massive social, moral, and spiritual change. It is a call to rid their world of the oppression of caste ideology. It is a demand for simple human dignity in response to the current realities of modern slavery, the oppression of women, economic discrimination, and rampant poverty.”
Global Outreach Mission elucidates on its portal, “In the near future, it is our goal to have a Christian school for Dalit families who have come to know the Lord. If they convert to Christianity, they are no longer considered Dalits and are not eligible for government help. These are the poorest of the poor in India already and when they lose the government’s help they become even poorer still. We desperately need a Christian school where we can give free education and a midday meal for them, as well as books to provide these children with a quality education.”
Yesupadam, the founder of Love-n-Care Ministries International, was himself an ‘untouchable’ Dalit and most of those they help are from the low castes, the ‘untouchables’ and also the tribal people who are lower than untouchables.
Love-n-Care Ministries claim that the ‘untouchables’ are vulnerable to harsh religious and socio-economic discrimination.
Nearly 90 percent of all the poor Indians and 95 percent of all the illiterate Indians are Dalits. These children are brought to Rev. Yesupadam’s Love-n-Care (LNC)
The main ministry of LNC is to church plant in the poor untouchable villages and tribal mountain areas, which involves constructing buildings to serve as meeting places for the believers.
Here is what Advancing Native Missions has to say about their Dalit focus, “According to the Hindu scriptures, humans are divided into four groups. Those who originally came from God’s head, arms, or thighs—the three “upper castes” which make up 15% of the population—get the good jobs in life (priesthood, medicine, law, politics, business). Those who originally came from God’s feet—the slave caste making up 50% of the population—deserve to work only as common laborers. And those who supposedly never came from God’s body at all—25 percent of the population—are branded as Untouchable.
It further states, that they are routinely shunned, raped, abused, banned from temples and higher caste homes, and forced to eat and drink from separate dishes. (In the not-to-distant past, many had to wear bells to warn others of their approach and were beaten if their shadow accidentally touched an upper-caste Hindu.) Although officially outlawed by India’s constitution, the practice of untouchability is alive and well throughout India today.
Educate to become a Planter
Church planters provide education to young Indians in the US, UK or in India itself.
Most of this education focuses on Theology. These educated and converted Indians with a foreign education come back to plant more Churches in India in their villages and states.
Andrew P. (Pen name used by Heart Cry Missionary Society for security reasons) was called by God to pastor a church in North India after getting a couple of seminary degrees and taking part of an internship program. In this internship, he was able to experience ministry in a healthy church, biblical elders, and expository preaching. It prepared him for the pastoral work ahead.
According to the missionary group Reach All Nations, “RAN receives students from various parts of India for receiving theological education. Upon the completion of the training, they go back to their own communities. In collaboration with their local churches they are placed in the mission field for church planting work. While they are in the field we support them in two ways. Helping them with monthly financial gifts until they are self-supported and providing ongoing biblical training in the field. Once a month we meet with them for a full day of prayer, fellowship, and teaching. We do this until the fledgling church is fully launched.”
Pastor Suresh of Mission Forefront states, “I have been attending these training for the past 15 years. Every time I find my vision, zeal, and love for the Kingdom getting refreshed. It allows me to hear the testimonies and enjoy the fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the Harvest. Because of these trainings, our church alone has been instrumental to plant more than 30 churches and over 40 leaders have been sent to the mission fields.”
The ‘Donation’ Plea
Most Church Planting organizations seek donations from their foreign donors for the Church Planting missions.
The donations asked for range from as low as USD $10 to as high as over USD $5000 to plant Churches across India.
From asking donations for Mini Crusades to asking for donations to educate Church planters, Evangelical organizations look to foreign funding and donations to spread their religious beliefs and mission of Church Planting.
Empower Ministries on its website states for Mini Crusades and Church Planters, “Pastors and church planters reaching out to the unreached villages in India exist on very little, their sacrifice very real. This vital monthly support provides food, housing, clothing and some transportation money for a church planting family enabling them to have their basic needs provided while taking the Gospel to new areas and planting churches.
A church planting family can be supported for only $100 per month.
The cost to hold a Mini Crusade is only $100 and provides speaker transportation, a sound system, New Testaments, and evangelistic and discipleship books to reach a village for Christ. “
The Christ for India states, “The New Testament Church of India is a church pioneering ministry that was established in December 1982. There are now over 215 congregations established throughout the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, Orissa, and Chattisgarh, with more than 22,200 members. NTC supports the pastors in the field until the congregation grows large enough to be self-supporting. Many pastors are praying for a permanent place of worship. Would you consider helping build a church in India? Your gift can help us build a simple, sturdy church building that can be used for worship, discipleship, and spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the unreached areas of India.”
Central India Christian Mission plea reads as follows, “Since 1982, through God’s will and hand of provision CICM has planted over 1,600 churches where on any given Sunday, over 360,000 people gather to worship. CICM has a growing team of dedicated church planters who regularly start new ministries in unreached regions. Many of CICM’s church planters were trained at CICM’s Bible Academies. Others earned ministry and theology degrees from colleges and seminaries in India and come to be a part of the work God is doing through CICM. Most church planters serve more than one congregation. Throughout the week they share the Gospel and help provide for the needs of the people in the villages and areas they serve. These church planters also help identify children who may need to be rescued or enter CICM’s sponsorship program. There are many ways you can send out a church planter. Just $250/month or $3,000/year supports a church planter full-time. As a result of each of their efforts, we are seeing hundreds of people per year immersed into Christ.”
Temple Planting to combat Church Planting
Church Planting is a well-planned mission in India. Most Church planters believe that India needs to be liberated from the darkness and be brought into the light of the Christian faith.
To combat the surge in Church Planting efforts in India by Evangelists of the Christian faith, followers of Sanatan Dharma and the Hindu faith must work on ‘Temple Planting’ across India. Temples were abode of learning and knowledge in India. It was the energy in Temples that held steadfast the principles of Sanatan Dharma. Temples were the abode for those that did were poor, ill, or even distraught with life.
Followers of Sanatan Dharma must rekindle this thirst for knowledge in our culture, sciences, and spirituality. Temples must be planted in our communities. Temples must become the abodes for the people of Sanatan Dharma to uplift the lives of each other.