India (MNN) ― In spite of Orissa State's 1999 anti-conversion law, there are still evangelistic projects going on in this hostile part of India. The Freedom of Religion Act of 1967 was amended in 1999 to narrow its focus.
Following that, it became known that people could be punished for not informing the state about their plans to convert. But that got taken further by enforcing punishment for those involved in conversions.
A 'Chilling effect' was feared to follow, but instead, the opposite phenomenon occurred. The church, according to many evangelical groups, grew. Coupled with the timing of the Dalit's rejecting Hinduism and embracing other faiths, the pace of church growth quickened.
World Bible Translation Center's Gary Bishop says they're excited about their newest undertaking. "We're going to have the first mass distribution of Bibles this year, in 2007. This is going to be kind of an historic thing because we're going to do 30-thousand Oriya Bibles in the Orissa State."
Bishop says there's a high population of poor people who are not well-educated. That's the perfect place for them to bring in Easy-to-Read Version Bibles. It's available in 13 of the most spoken languages of India.
With the Scriptures aimed at a third grade reading level, more people can understand the gospel and respond. By the year 2010, they want to distribute 1 million Bibles, 2 million New Testaments and 5 million Scripture portions worldwide.
Working in this part of India will likely prove a difficult challenge, and they're asking for help. "We, first of all, need to have people praying for our team there. We have 400 volunteers that have agreed to help distribute these texts through 30 districts. So, we need to pray for their safety, for them to have courage in the face of certain opposition."
If things stay on track, Bishop notes, they could begin the distribution as early as mid-2007. Before that, the text, which was completed in 2005, has to be printed, bound and shipped. Funding becomes a issue at this stage in the project. If you want to help, click here.