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Persecution of Christians is on the rise throughout South Asia, as radical Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists seek to “purify” their countries of religious minorities.
Despite this persecution, Christianity is rapidly growing in this region. Today in India, between 15,000 and 20,000 people are baptized every day. Northern India still contains the world’s largest number of unreached people groups, however. India’s Christian leaders are beginning to collaborate on how to reach these groups.
In the Islamic country of Pakistan, radical Muslim groups flourish. Many Christians are falsely accused of violating Pakistan’s “blasphemy laws” and imprisoned. Islamic extremism has significantly increased during the last 10 to 15 years due in large part to Islamic education centers where 40 million children are taught to persecute religious minorities like Christians.
Christians comprise less than 2 percent of Pakistan’s population and are at the bottom of the socio-economic strata. Likewise, Christians are typically the poorest members of society in India, where the gospel is taking root among the low-caste populations. Though India is the world’s largest democracy, more than 300 million people in India still live below the poverty line.
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Evangelism & Discipleship
Workers with one Christian Aid Mission-assisted ministry South Asia have planted a total of 600 churches, which are attended by approximately 24,000 people. The ministry’s theological institute trains and equips native believers for Christian service. Church-planting missionaries settle in urban and rural communities, establishing relationships to win souls to Christ. This ministry has established a church in every major city inside of its country. GIVE NOW to help evangelistic and discipleship ministries like this one in South Asia.
Since 1974, a Christian hospital has provided medical care, along with the gospel message, to poverty-stricken people suffering from ailments such as leprosy, tuberculosis, blindness, and malnutrition. The staff conducts free eye camps in the villages surrounding the hospital, performing simple surgeries to restore sight to thousands of people who would otherwise be severely limited in their ability to earn a modest living. Every year, the medical team screens approximately 10,000 patients at the eye camps and performs around 2,000 surgeries, mainly for cataracts. A hospital chaplain shares the gospel with patients and 30 gospel workers have established fellowships in several outlying villages. The hospital has helped construct church buildings in many small communities. GIVE NOW to help community engagement ministries like this one in South Asia.
Human trafficking runs rampant in India. Every hour, four girls enter prostitution, three of them against their will. Girls as young as 10 years are trafficked from economically depressed neighborhoods to major prostitution centers. An indigenous ministry is successfully rehabilitating survivors of forced prostitution back into the community as self-sustaining citizens who love the Lord Jesus. Through basic life skills, education, vocational training, counseling, and help with housing, survivors of trafficking are finding healing and restoration. GIVE NOW to help compassion ministries like this one in South Asia.
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A native ministry that provides Bible correspondence courses also distributes a magazine as a follow-up tool to address issues for those exploring Christianity. Evangelists, Sunday school teachers, and other church leaders also use the magazine to bring people closer to Christ. “We work for church enrichment and spiritual growth,” the ministry leader said.
As economic and political crises led to medicine shortages, native missionaries invited many sick people to worship services where they received healing prayer. One woman who had suffered for six months with chest pain received healing and is now testifying of the Lord’s power to other villagers. “Some villages were strongly against the Good News of Jesus, but now the people have changed, as they know we are helping poor people and children,” the ministry leader said.
Native missionaries took great joy in seeing how 60 needy children at their hostel advanced in mind and spirit as they provided them food, lodging, and schooling. “We taught them Bible verses and stories,” the ministry leader said. “They participated in worship singing, playing musical instruments, ushering, and cleaning inside and outside the church premise.”
Despite increasing opposition and persecution, a ministry reached over 56,000 people with the gospel for the first time in 45 villages within a six-month span. Of the thousands who accepted Christ, one of the new believers comes from a family who worships false gods and had spent all their money on sacrifices to alleviate their many problems to no avail. After she accepted Christ, her family kicked her out, and she lives in a hut on the outskirts of her village where local believers disciple and take care of her.
The chief priest of a local tribe’s religion persecuted churches for many years, but when he faced a life-threatening illness, he requested that his family take him to Christians for prayer. Local missionaries and other church members prayed for him for three days, and he was healed.
New Christians at a local ministry leader’s church are growing in their faith as they pray during worship every Sunday and lead their families in evening meetings at their homes. Workers are discipling fledgling Christians even as they visit new villages to distribute Bibles and begin forming relationships; over one six-month stretch, they proclaimed Christ to 1,200 people of other religions, and 12 churches were planted.