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.

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 2½ to 3 hours. By car, it takes about 45 minutes.

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