India (MNN) — On October 21, there was hope that a judge would throw
out a Karnataka case that has been hanging over the heads of eight Grand
Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India
partners in India.
However, Mission India's Dave
Stravers says that was not what happened. "More than a year later, the trial dates have been postponed time after
time. In the meantime, these eight
workers have to report monthly to the court," until the next trial date,
It's frustrating and
disappointing because it means travel, lodging and food overnight each
time their team has to report to court until December. "It's not so unusual in India for trials to
be postponed," Stravers notes, "but in this case, where the charges are
obviously without any factual basis, we're pretty confident that the charges
will be dismissed. But it's like: ‘Let's
make as much trouble for these Christians as we can while we can.'"
Last August, the ministry informed MNN of an attack by Hindu extremists
on an 80-person training session for Children's Bible Clubs. Eight of Mission India's partners are charged
with "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings
of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs."
Even with the harassment following
the ministry partners, Stravers says, rather than frighten new partners away,
the ministry is faced with the opposite problem. "We have a long waiting
list of workers in this particular area who want to do this kind of ministry
and want to receive training. So it's like they all know the stories, they
know the problems, they know the suffering that's going to happen."
The people are very open to the Gospel,
but the Hindu leaders are very hostile because of the rapid growth amongst
Christians. It often means a shift in power for the Hindus.
For those coming to Christ, it's about
something much bigger. Stravers relates
the story of a young man named Jamal who was orphaned at 13. Relatives took him in, but soon his
grandmother fell ill, and there was little relief for her.
Jamal heard there was a Christian
pastor who was working in his village, and that this man prayed for the sick, so he
called this man in. The pastor came,
prayed for Jamal's grandmother, and she was miraculously healed.
Stravers says, "This young
teenager was so struck by the power of Jesus and also the love of this Christian
man, he gave his life to the Lord.
Today, a few years later, he is a church planter."
There are hundreds more like
Jamal–passionate for Christ and in need of the training and resources that Mission India can provide. Stravers explains, "It costs about a-dollar-a-child to train workers to reach the children that we're bringing to
the Lord in India."
Staff is currently meeting with
potential partners, and interviews for Church Planter trainees will soon follow.
New classes for this one-year program are slated to begin in January. Pray. There
are many challenges facing Mission India and their partners. "There's great religious fervor,
there's great response to the Gospel, and there's also great persecution–all
happening all at the same time."