India's more than 1 billion people are hurting...they are seeking...and they are responding to Jesus in record numbers. (Photo courtesy of Mission India)
India (MNN) ― Hopeful excitement is building in India as the new government, which has already taken steps to protect Christians from persecution, begins its administration.
"Everyone is now anticipating five years not only of political stability, but also 5 years of having a government that wants to protect minorities," said Dave Stravers, president of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India.
Parliament passed new directives for law enforcement about a week ago for the protection of minorities, Stravers said.
"You can substitute the word 'Christians' there for 'minorities,' because it was a direct response to what happened last year in the state of Orissa and other places where Christians are being attacked," he explained. "So this is really a very significant transition."
Many believe the transition is occurring not only in the political world but also among the people of India.
"Even the secular and Hindu pundits in India are saying that this election shows a cultural shift happening," Stravers said. "People are tired of the politics of hate; they're tired of the religious extremism; they're tired of what they call 'casteism.' They don't want this kind of politics anymore. So this is very good news for the Gospel."
The Gospel has been spreading rapidly throughout India, and religious tolerance could open even more doors.
"India is so responsive to the Gospel right now," Stravers said. "We are hearing from virtually all the corners of India about openness, response, people being baptized by the thousands, even the tens of thousands...It just appears to us that all the conditions are right for a wonderful, massive, movement to Christ in India.
"Keep your eyes open, because you're going to be reading and hearing a lot more stories of what's happening in India."
On his last trip to India, Stravers learned one such story from a young man who had grown up as a very devout Hindu. A Christian had brought Scripture for his family, but later his family moved away.
"He said that from the age of 9, he felt the Lord had been pursuing him, and he had been resisting it," Stravers said. "Finally, God started giving him dreams, and these dreams in the night directed him to talk to certain people that he knew; he didn't know they were Christians."
Stravers met the man a few weeks after he and his wife were baptized.
"Even though the result was he lost his job and his family is opposing him, he's just very happy and telling everyone his story," Stravers said. He compared the way God pursued this young man to the way God is working in the nation of India.
"In this case He decided to pursue this man...for 20 years, till he came to Christ through a dream and a witnessing friend," he said. "From my perspective, God has decided to pursue India. And when God is pursuing you, something remarkable is going to happen."
The election could also benefit the lowest, most oppressed caste in Indian society -- the Dalits. Many Christians are Dalits, and Mission India is working hard to provide support and training for them.
"The Christians in India are among the poorest people in the country...the kind of people you saw in Slumdog Millionaire" Stravers said. "Those are the people who are coming to Christ in great numbers."
Stravers encouraged Christians to pray that God will provide for poor Christians, and that the government will continue to protect minority populations.
"Pray that it's really true that there will be some peace, some stability, and the doors will stay open," he said. "Also pray that extremists, whether they're Hindus or Muslims, will not be successful in intimidating or creating fear among believers."