India (MNN) — Last year, 120 people were killed in anti-Christian violence that gripped India. Believers were targeted and attacked for their faith, and hundreds of churches were vandalized or burnt to the ground. Thousands took shelter in refugee camps, where they've sent request after request to Audio Scripture Ministries.
"Instead of requesting food and blankets and things like that, which they desperately need," says ASM's Executive Director Tom Dudenhofer, "they've requested God's Word so they can listen to the Scriptures."
Next week, ASM teams will distribute 1,000 audio players in Orissa state. Most of the believers requesting ASM materials are unable to read the written Word of God. Having Scripture in audio provides them with encouragement and hope.
"They realize that if there's going to be any joy in anything that comes into their lives, it will come through God's Word," Dudenhofer says. "That really gets us excited, to see the power of God's Word demonstrated in the requests of these believers…who want to listen to God's Word right in the middle of these tough times."
In the 2008 violence, people were targeted for their faith in Christ. ASM is taking steps to prevent any further violence when materials are distributed next week. ASM spoke with local pastors to develop a plan that will prevent further disruption. The initial meeting will take place publicly, where political reasoning prevents any outside interference.
"We don't have any fears at all about the initial distribution," said Dudenhofer. "Then the local churches take over, and they discreetly handle all the details that are involved in this process."
ASM further protects believers by charging a small fee for the audio players. This may seem harsh, but Dudenhofer says the fee is actually another form of defense. If materials were given out, he explains, people could be accused of converting to Christianity simply because the players were free.
"This provides them with a sense of personal ownership," Dudenhofer says. "It also demonstrates that they are investing their own money into this, that nobody is bribing them."
Each person who purchases an audio player agrees to form a listening group of around 10 people; this group gathers to hear Scripture readings daily. Dudenhofer says this will hopefully result in a large movement of God in India.
Audio players cost ASM $50 apiece to produce. If you'd like to help provide God's Word in India, click here.