Public Transportation Hinders Outreach
by Pat Humes
There are several cities located in northern India having a population of more than two million people. Within these cities are pockets of Urdu-speaking communities, where a native missionary* and his wife began their ministry. But this has not been an easy mission field. Religious tensions persist, so Muslim minorities are fearful of entering the mainstream of society. They rarely leave their own neighborhood, except for reasons of business, health or other necessities.
Jeeps are especially useful because they can travel over rough roads, carrying necessary equipment and supplies.
Ministry can only be done by entering into these closed districts and establishing relationships. In addition to religious tensions, they must deal with typical slum conditions: Many live in shanties covered with plastic; unsanitary conditions are everywhere, due to inadequate sewage disposal and water contamination, and an insidious oppression can be seen in every facet of life. Crime in the streets also makes travel dangerous.
Cities like this are very large, so the husband and wife missionary team began their ministry traveling by bus. After waiting several minutes for the bus to come, they rode for 10 to 15 minutes, and then got off to transfer to another bus. Sometimes they had to wait a half hour for the next bus to come. This kind of travel continued, using four or five buses and walking a lot, before reaching their destination. A trip like this takes 2 to 3 hours. By car, it takes about 45 minutes.
Millions of people, such as this Muslim lady, have never heard the gospel.
Travel became even more difficult when they began taking along items, such as medicine, personal hygiene products, and clothing. Eventually some families became interested in the Lord and wanted a Bible to study on their own. So their bags kept getting heavier, as they added Bibles, tapes, and other tools of their outreach.
Women responded quickly to the missionary's wife and her coworkers, asking them to come more often. But even going with the other women was not safe. Many times the missionary husband had to visit ministries in other cities, and was not available to accompany them. This situation not only hinders effective follow-up, it prevents their ability to reach new areas of the city.
The missionary made this appeal to Christian Aid: "There are 80 million Urdu-speaking Muslims scattered throughout northern India. But to cover such a large geographical area with systematic sowing, we need a jeep for travel – from one city to another and within the cities themselves. Please continue to pray with us for the ability to buy a good second-hand jeep from a believer who is offering it at a very low price. Besides passengers, it can carry a good amount of literature and other ministry materials on top."
*name not revealed for protection