India (MNN) — Christians in India are increasingly becoming the targets of oppression and even attacks. India currently sits at 11th on the Open Doors World Watch List — a list ranking countries where it is the most dangerous to be a Christian. Last year, India ranked lower on the World Watch List in 15th place.
However, believers in India are persevering in their Christian witness. And Global Disciples helps encourage these believers in ministry.
Global Disciples trains and equips indigenous Christian leaders (known as directors) around the world who then train local church planters to fulfill the Great Commission. These directors may occasionally go into church planting themselves, but they are primarily trainers for church planting, small business development, and leadership.
In India, Global Disciples recently had an Annual Equipping Event (AEE) to encourage and support the directors. Jon* with Global Disciples says these men and women have witnessed the increasing persecution in India. “Many of them know churches that have been closed down or pastors that have been imprisoned…. It’s something they live with on a daily basis and face the reality that they could be the next…church that’s closed down or pastor that’s imprisoned.”
However, he reports, “I would say they encourage us! The conversations that I had with people there said, ‘Yes, persecution is increasing,’ and their response is sort of, ‘Bring it on. It will strengthen the Church. It will help us be more united as leaders. It will help us to focus more clearly on the mission of the Church and it will purify the Church.’
“So it is astounding to me. I would shrink from persecution or run backward. They seem to be presenting…a message they have for the Church in the West, and that is not to fear persecution. If God allows persecution, embrace it and know that God’s Kingdom will continue on in spite of man’s attempt to stop it.”
As Christian leaders who are then training and supporting Indian church planters in the face of increasing persecution, these indigenous directors need spiritual encouragement. That’s where Global Disciples’ AEE comes in.
Jon explains, “Our Annual Equipping Event is a time that we bring the persons that we are working with in different locations together for three days [for] a time of sharing with them, re-envisioning the work God has called us to do, building relationships — it’s an exciting time. I describe these as a cross between a family reunion and a conference because it’s really a time of coming together as friends, as brothers.”
Many of the training directors Global Disciples work with live in remote regions of India. The AEE may be the only chance they get to meet face-to-face and hear about the advance of the Gospel to the least-reached in their country.
“Again and again, directors tell us, ‘I was just about to give up. I was discouraged and tired, and I came here and I’m re-energized. I’m ready to go again and I’m ready to keep preaching the Gospel,’” shares Jon.
“Several of the people that I talked with in India said, ‘Global Disciples gave our church a vision for the unreached. Before we were connected with Global Disciples, we were pretty much doing our own thing — you know, painting the church building and making a nice choir — but now we have a vision for reaching the least-reached.’”
Besides refueling a vision for the Great Commission in India, the AEE is also a time for directors to grow in their connection with God.
“One of the things we do in our AEEs is just give them personal time with God. Every morning after our devotional session, we send them out for 30 minutes just to be alone and listen to God. Then they come back and share what God has spoken to them and very often those words are confirmation to an individual of either God’s love for them, God’s care for their family, God’s call to them in mission, and they are encouraged and strengthened to carry on.”
Ultimately, Global Disciples values an ongoing relationship with the directors they train. And over the next several years that relationship is continued and deepened at AEEs.
“They go back then to their local churches and continue training and sending out workers or church planters. The leadership training that’s being done also through Global and the small business training all fuel the planting of churches in least-reached areas.”
Please be in prayer for these directors to continue throughout the rest of the year in the Holy Spirit’s encouragement and strength. Pray that the church planters they train will be effective witnesses for the Gospel to the least-reached in India.
*Full name not given for security purposes.